X2Go Bug report logs - #1229
x2go rejects usernames starting with digits, incorrectly

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Package: x2goserver; Maintainer for x2goserver is X2Go Developers <x2go-dev@lists.x2go.org>; Source for x2goserver is src:x2goserver.

Reported by: "Norman Gray" <gray@nxg.name>

Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2017 17:00:02 UTC

Severity: normal

Tags: pending

Found in version

Fixed in version

Done: X2Go Release Manager X2Go Release Manager <git-admin@x2go.org>

Bug is archived. No further changes may be made.

Full log

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From: "Norman Gray" <gray@nxg.name>
To: "Mihai Moldovan" <ionic@ionic.de>
Cc: 1229@bugs.x2go.org
Subject: Re: [X2Go-Dev] x2go rejects usernames starting with digits,
Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2017 12:11:51 +0000
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Mihai, hello.

On 28 Oct 2017, at 9:09, Mihai Moldovan wrote:

> On 10/27/2017 06:51 PM, Norman Gray wrote:
>> At present, x2goserver sanitises usernames with a regexp in 
>> x2goutils.pm
>> and in x2gosqlitewrapper.pl (same in both places). [...]
> Just to make it clear - we're not really "validating user names". I 
> couldn't
> care less about the user name as such - it's the system's 
> responsibility to deal
> with user names and if users managed to login, we can assume the user 
> name is
> valid, like you've already written on the -dev mailing list and here.
> What we really do in this part of code is validating a session ID, 
> which happens
> to contain a user name. Sadly, as such, what we see as a user name 
> must be
> correctly represented in order to check the session ID.
> Generally, a session ID should look like that:
>   <username>-<DISPLAY number>-<UNIX timestamp denoting session 
> creation
> time>_st<string representation of session type>_dp<DISPLAY bit depth>

Righto -- that makes perfect sense: there did look like there was more 
going on there than mere validation.

Parenthetically (because it would imply changes well beyond the scope of 
this bug report), something like u<uid>-... would be easy to assemble at 
this point, and be totally bomb-proof (but obviously doesn't help if 
it's the user _name_ you need later on).

But returning to your points...

>> Note that the test may in fact be redundant, since if this code is 
>> being
>> run, then the corresponding user has already logged on to the system, 
>> so
>> that the username has already been verified as valid and existing.
> In theory it's redundant. But there is a possibility that we are 
> reading garbage
> data, where ever that might come from. Any bug (including our scripts 
> messing up
> splitting up something, or inserting something invalid into the 
> database and
> reading it again later) could trigger such a situation, so IMHO 
> validation of
> input strings is really not redundant.

Sanity checks are good!

>>    * POSIX/Single Unix says of the username simply "To be portable
>> across systems conforming to POSIX.1-2008, the value is composed of
>> characters from the portable filename character set. The 
>> <hyphen-minus>
>> character should not be used as the first character of a portable 
>> user
>> name." (see <http://pubs.opengroup.org/onlinepubs/9699919799/>,
>> paragraph 3.437)
> So, hyphen is prohibited as the first character. Also, SUS recommends 
> (but does
> not enforce) using the portable filename character set[0] only for 
> portability,
> which is restricted to [A-Za-z0-9._-]. Specifically, this does not 
> include any
> special characters like umlauts, accented characters or generally any 
> other
> Unicode character.
>>    * The Debian useradd(8) page recommends something matching
>> /^[a-z_][a-z0-9_-]*$/, but goes on to say "On Debian, the only
>> constraints are that usernames must neither start with a dash ('-') 
>> nor
>> contain a colon (':') or a whitespace (space: ' ', end of line: '\n',
>> tabulation: '\t', etc.). Note that using a slash ('/') may break the
>> default algorithm for the definition of the user's home directory." 
>> (see
>> eg <https://www.unix.com/man-page/linux/8/useradd/>)
> This is a bit stricter than the SUS definition (ignoring the 
> portability
> recommendation). If taken at face value, Debian allows any Unicode 
> character but
> the restricted ones. Interestingly, the recommended matching regexp 
> doesn't
> include uppercase characters and, arguably more interestingly, doesn't 
> allow a
> user name to start with a digit (which would be problematic for you).
>>    * The corresponding RedHat/CentOS manpage doesn't even include 
>> that,
>> and instead says only "Usernames may only be up to 32 characters 
>> long."
>> FreeBSD is similarly laid-back about the username.
> This is interesting as well, since it's the first document that 
> mentions a
> maximum length. If interpreted directly, the previous documents did 
> not restrict
> the length (unless you haven't pasted some information relating to the 
> string
> length).

I wouldn't be at all astonished to see unicode usernames before long.  
It's the sort of thing Apple or RedHat would do, and which it appears 
Debian might already do in principle (if not much in practice); and 
since IRIs, for example, can now at least indirectly support all of 
Unicode in the DNS, the idea of a non-ASCII üsernamé is less 
outlandish than it might once have been.  It would go beyond SUS, and so 
would be a big deal, but it might be worth having x2go aim for a 
solution which is robust against that, and so which would solve the 
issue once and for all.

Hmm: one possibility would be to put the uid in the session string 
(though I appreciate, as above, that may not work for x2go for other 

Another would be to run the username through a punycode converter 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punycode> as with IRIs: any characters in 
[a-zA-Z0-9-] would come through that unchanged, but others would be 
normalised.  This would be an invisible change for most usernames.  As a 
normalisation, it also has the advantage that it's reversible if need 
be.  I can't remember -- and that Wikipedia page doesn't refresh my 
memory -- exactly what subset of characters comes through a punycode 
conversion unchanged, so this would require a little further thought.

But again, these go beyond the immediate scope of this present issue.

> The @ character indeed has been added to allow email-address-like user 
> names as
> part of https://bugs.x2go.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=573
> Allowing $ as trailing characters has been part from the start, though 
> I
> honestly don't understand why.

I share your puzzlement with that one.  Is it possible this was the 
end-of-string pattern in the regexp, which got in to the allowable 
trailing characters by mistake?

> In theory, /^[A-Za-z0-9._][A-Za-z0-9._-@]*/ should be more liberal, 
> not restrict
> the length, allow portable user names and expand on that by allowing
> domain-based user names as well. I'd drop the trailing $.

That looks very plausible to me.

Best wishes,


Norman Gray  :  https://nxg.me.uk
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