OpenWifi status report before 2nd evaluation

Hello everyone,
this is the second milestone blog post about OpenWifi. In this blog post I want to talk a little more about the authorization in detail and give an update on what has been done in the last weeks.


Authentication was enhanced with possibility to use a client side certificate or apikey (which can be send to the server with a HTTP-GET like ?key=MY_API_KEY). It uses groups to distinguish between the authentication methods and if you login with username/password it is also possible to mark a user as an admin.

Username/password login uses cookies and client side certificates have to validated by a proxy (like nginx for example) and added to the header. It is you can find the code for authentication and groups.


The basic principle of authorization in pyramid is a ACL based authorization that gets principals (basically strings) from authentication. These ACLs are given by so called factories (if a view doesn’t use a custom factory the so called root factory is used).

I decided that it would make sense to have two strategies for authorization – coarse grained and fine grained. I’ll talk about the two in the next part.

Coarse grained authorization

Coarse grained authorization is based on specific views and access to a node. Access to specific views is managed by the root factory which is just a simple ACL that stores which groups have access to which views (like only admins can manage users and access objects, admins and client side certificate can add nodes).

Access to nodes is managed via access objects which are attached to a user or apikey and also attached to a list of nodes. (There is also a special setting that gives access to all nodes) To protect views that operate on a single node (like settings, status, etc.) there is the node context factory which generates an ACL that requests access to the specific node. (a user/apikey is given principals that match their accessible nodes)

To protect views that list nodes there is the get_nodes function that returns all nodes accessible by a user.

It might be a good idea to extend the node access that it can define what can be done with the node (to allow/disable luci access or ssh key access for example).

Fine grained authorization

Fine grained authorization is used in conjunction with the graph-based DB model. It is still WIP and I use a separate branch for it.This uses the data portion of the access object. Since access to the model is given as a rest API provided by cornice I’m using cornice validators give access. Since it shall be possible to share the same master configuration across different nodes it has to determine what are the maximum access for all nodes using the config for this user is.

Access can be granted in two ways – either by specifying a “path string” and an access (like rw, ro or none) or by just a allowing one specific query to the db. A path string has the following format: ConfigName (ConfigType).LinkName.Config2Name (Config2Type) etc. I want that it is possible to use regular expression for matching these names.

To make things easier I started by just comparing the levels of the “path string” to see if they refer to the same string when trying to figure out the maximum rights for a given node set.


Julius, Arne and me started thinking if it is a good a idea to make it a little bit easier for external software to just update nodes with specific configuration options. So that this software doesn’t need to use queries for all the options it wants to modify. (And therefor use polling to update new nodes etc.) After thinking a bit about it I decided it would be a good idea to add something like services a service can register to. This service contains a shell-script and a compare value to determine if the node is desired to be modified by this service and also a list of queries that should be applied to this config.

Arne is using this to set a ONOS Server for the nodes via OpenWifi.

Discovery Script

The discovery script was updated to use client side certificates and advertise if the node is able to communicate via TLS.

Graph-Based DB Model

The GUI for the graph based DB model was updated a bit – now it is sorted with a different algorithm (based on the direction) and also displays information about the vertices (there for the is a small rest API for the vertices).

Also a lot of the code was refactored which will make it easier to add new features here.


It was evaluated how a github page could be used to add more documentation for OpenWifi. Some small things in the docker image were fixed as well. (for example discovery not working with nginx image or wrong file system rights)

What is going to be done in the next weeks

Fine grained access proved to be more complicated than I thought. But I want to finish it soon and start working on the communication abstraction. I also hope that there is enough time to improve the graph based db model (since the code is now refactored it should be not to hard).

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