Recent Posts

New SSL features for Nginx

1 minute read

As a Puppet Mongrel Nginx user, I’m really ashamed about the convoluted nginx configuration needed (two server blocks listening on different ports, you need to direct your clients CA interactions to the second port with –ca_port), and the lack of support of proper CRL verification.

If you are like me, then there is some hope in this blog post.

Last week-end, I did some intense Puppet hacking (certainly more news about this soon), and part of this work is two Nginx patch:

  • The first one adds support for ssl_client_verify optional. In this mode nginx accepts a client without a certificate, and of course accepts a client as long as it verifies against the CA certificate.
  • The second patch adds support for CRL PEM files (the one we usually deploy in Puppet).


First, download both patches:

Then apply them to Nginx (tested on 0.7.59):

$ cd nginx-0.7.59
$ patch -p1 < ../0001-Support-ssl_client_verify-optional-and-ssl_client_v.patch
$ patch -p1 < ../0002-Add-SSL-CRL-verifications.patch

Then build Nginx as usual.


Here is a revised Puppet Nginx Mongrel configuration:

upstream puppet-production {

server {
  listen 8140;

  ssl                     on;
  ssl_session_timeout     5m;
  ssl_certificate         /var/lib/puppet/ssl/certs/puppetmaster.pem;
  ssl_certificate_key     /var/lib/puppet/ssl/private_keys/puppetmaster.pem;
  ssl_client_certificate  /var/lib/puppet/ssl/ca/ca_crt.pem;
  ssl_ciphers             SSLv2:-LOW:-EXPORT:RC4+RSA;
  # allow authenticated and client without certs
  ssl_verify_client       optional;
  # obey to the Puppet CRL
  ssl_crl /var/lib/puppet/ssl/ca/ca_crl.pem;
  root                    /var/tmp;

  location / {
    proxy_pass              http://puppet-production;
    proxy_redirect         off;
    proxy_set_header    Host             $host;
    proxy_set_header    X-Real-IP        $remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header    X-Forwarded-For  $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
    proxy_set_header    X-Client-Verify  $ssl_client_verify;
    proxy_set_header    X-SSL-Subject    $ssl_client_s_dn;
    proxy_set_header    X-SSL-Issuer     $ssl_client_i_dn;
    proxy_read_timeout  65;

Reload nginx, and enjoy :-)

Nginx secure link module with TTL

2 minute read

It’s been a long time since my last post… which just means I was really busy both privately, on the Puppet side and at work (I’ll talk about the Puppet side soon, for the private life you’re on the wrong blog :-)).

For a project I’m working on at Days of Wonder, I had to use the nginx secure link module. This module allows a client to access to the pointed resource only if the given MD5 HashMAC matches the arguments.

To use it, it’s as simple as:

  1. have your protected resources in /var/www/protected
  2. have your back-end generate the correct url (see below)
  3. use the following nginx config

location /protected/ {
secure_link "this is my secret";
root /var/www/downloads;

if ($secure_link = "") {
return 403;

rewrite ^ /$secure_link break;

To generate an URL, use the following PHP snippet:

<?php $prefix = "";

$protected_resource = "my-super-secret-resource.jpg";

$secret = "this is my secret";

$hashmac = md5( $protected_resource . $secret );

$url = $prefix . "/" . $hashmac . "/" . $protected_resource;


I want my protected URL to expire

But that wasn’t enough for our usage. We needed the url to expire automatically after some time. So I crafted a small patch against Nginx 0.7.59.

How does it work?

It just extends the nginx secure link module with a TTL. The time at which the resource expires is embedded in the url, and the HMAC. If the server finds that the current time is greater than the embedded time, then it denies access to the resource.

The timeout can’t be tampered as it is used in the HMAC.


The usage is the same as the current nginx secure link module, except:

  1. you need to embed the timeout into the URL
  2. you need to tell nginx about the TTL.

On the back-end site

You need to use the following (sorry only PHP) code:

define(URL_TIMEOUT, 3600) # one hour timeout
$prefix = "";
$protected_resource = "my-super-secret-resource.jpg";
$secret = "this is my secret";
$time = pack('N', time() + URL_TIMEOUT);
$timeout = bin2hex($time);

$hashmac = md5( $protected_resource . $time . $secret );

$url = $prefix . "/" . $hashmac . $timeout . "/" . $protected_resource;

On Nginx side

location /protected/ {
secure_link "this is my secret";
secure_link_ttl on;
root /var/www/protected;

if ($secure_link = "") {
return 403;

rewrite ^ /$secure_link break;


The server generating the url and hashmac and the one delivering the protected resource must have synchronized clocks.

There is no support. If it eats your server, then I or Days of Wonder can’t be

I want it!

It’s simple:

  1. download the nginx secure link ttl patch
  2. apply it to nginx-0.7.59 source tree (patch -p0 < nginx-secure-link-ttl.patch)
  3. configure nginx with –with-http_secure_link_module
  4. use and abuse

Puppet and JRuby a love story!

2 minute read

As announced in my last edit of my yesterday post Puppet and JRuby a love and hate story, I finally managed to run a webrick puppetmaster under JRuby with a MRI client connecting and fetching it’s config.

The Recipe

Puppet side

Unfortunately Puppet creates its first certificate with a serial number of 0, which JRuby-OpenSSL finds invalid (in fact that’s Bouncy Castle JCE Provider). So the first thing is to check if you already have some certificate generated with a serial of 0. If you have none, then everything is great you can skip this.

You can see a certificate content with openssl:

% openssl x509 -text -in /path/to/my/puppet/ssl/ca/ca_cert.pem

Version: 3 (0x2)
Serial Number: 1 (0x1)
Signature Algorithm: sha1WithRSAEncryption
Issuer: CN=ca
Not Before: May 23 18:38:19 2009 GMT
Not After : May 22 18:38:19 2014 GMT
Subject: CN=ca

If no certificate has a serial of 0, then it’s OK, otherwise I’m afraid you’ll have to start the PKI from scratch (which means rm -rf $vardir/ssl and authenticate clients again), after applying the following Puppet patch:

JRuby fix: make sure certificate serial > 0

JRuby OpenSSL implementation is more strict than real ruby one and
requires certificate serial number to be strictly positive.

Signed-off-by: Brice Figureau <>

diff --git a/lib/puppet/ssl/certificate_authority.rb b/lib/puppet/ssl/certificate_authority.rb
index 08feff0..4a7d461 100644
--- a/lib/puppet/ssl/certificate_authority.rb
+++ b/lib/puppet/ssl/certificate_authority.rb
@@ -184,7 +184,7 @@ class Puppet::SSL::CertificateAuthority
# it, but with a mode we can't actually read in some cases.  So, use
# a default before the lock.
unless FileTest.exist?(Puppet[:serial])
-            serial = 0x0
+            serial = 0x1

Puppet.settings.readwritelock(:serial) { |f|

I’ll post this patch to puppet-dev soon, so I hope it’ll eventually get merged soon in mainline.


You need the freshest JRuby available at this time. My test were conducted with latest JRuby as of commit “3aadd8a”. The best is to clone the github jruby repository, and build it (it requires of course a JDK and Ant, but that’s pretty much all).

Then install jruby in your path (if you need assistance for this, I’m not sure this blog post is for you :-))


As I explained in my previous blog post about the same subject, Puppet exercises a lot the Ruby OpenSSL subsystem. During this experiment, I found a few shortcomings in the current JRuby-OpenSSL 0.5, including missing methods, or missing behaviors needed by Puppet to run fine.

So to get a fully Puppet enabled JRuby-OpenSSL you need either to get the very latest JRuby-OpenSSL from its own github repository (or checkout the puppet-fixes branch of my fork of said repository on github) and or apply manually the following patches on top of the 0.5 source tarballs:

  • JRUBY-3689: OpenSSL::X509::CRL can’t be created with PEM content

  • JRUBY-3690: OpenSSL::X509::Request can’t be created from PEM content

  • JRUBY-3691: Implement OpenSSL::X509::Request#to_pem

  • JRUBY-3692: Implement OpenSSL::X509::Store#add_file

  • JRUBY-3693: OpenSSL::X509::Certificate#check_private_key is not implemented

  • JRUBY-3556: Webrick doesn’t start in https

  • JRUBY-3694: Webrick HTTPS produces some SSL stack trace

Then rebuild JRuby-OpenSSL which is a straightforward process (copy to, adjust jruby.jar path, and then issue ant jar to build the jopenssl.jar).

Once done, install the 0.5 JRuby-OpenSSL gem in your jruby install, and copy other the built jar in lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/jruby-openssl-0.5/lib.

Let’s try it!

Then it’s time to run your puppetmaster, just start it with jruby instead of ruby. Of course you need the puppet dependencies installed (Facter).

My next try will be to run Puppet on Jruby and mongrel (or what replaces it in JRuby world), then try with storeconfig on…

Hope that helps, and for any question, please post in the puppet-dev list.