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Version 6 (modified by Antoine Martin, 4 years ago) (diff)

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Proxy Server

Introduction

This new feature in version 0.11 (see #426) allows a single xpra server to provide access to many xpra sessions through a single entry point, without using SSH for transport/authentication.

This can be very useful for hosts that have a limited number of publicly accessible ports, or for clients accessing servers through firewalls with outbound port filtering. (ie: you can put the server on port 80 or 443)

Depending on the Authentication module configured, the proxy server can expose:

  • all local xpra sessions after user authentication
  • a custom list of sessions configured through the "file-auth" mechanism

Usage

To start the proxy server, simply run:

xpra proxy :20 --auth=sys --bind-tcp=0.0.0.0:443

Notes:

  • if you run this command as root, all the user sessions will be exposed
  • if you run it a normal user, only this user's session will be exposed
  • once authenticated, the proxy server spawns a new process and no longer runs as root
  • the display number chosen for the proxy server is only used for identifying the proxy server and interacting with it using the regular tools ("xpra info", etc)


When attaching, the client usually needs to specify its password using the --password-file switch, and if there is more than one live session for that user, it will also need to specify which display it wishes to connect to, using one of those two switches:

  • the "--display=:N" switch
  • the attach syntax: "tcp:SERVER:PORT:DISPLAY

ie:

xpra attach tcp:127.0.0.1:443 --password-file=./password.txt --display=:100

File Authentication

When used with the proxy server, the password file (see Authentication Modules) should contain one user per line using the format:

USERNAME|PASSWORD|UID|GID|SESSION_URI|ENV_VARS|SESSION_OPTIONS

Details:

  • USERNAME and PASSWORD are used for authentication
  • UID and GID are used for the new proxy process (and can be set to nobody)
  • SESSION_URI is the usual xpra connection string of the actual target session, ie:
    tcp:HOST:PORT
    
    or
    ssh:HOST:DISPLAY
    
  • ENV_VARS is an optional attribute which can contain ";" separated name-value pairs which will affect the environment of the new process spawned after authentication.
  • SESSION_OPTIONS is an optional attribute which can contain ";" separated name-value pairs which will override the client's connection settings and apply to the connection between the proxy and the real server only.

File Authentication Example

  • Start a proxy server on port 443 using file authentication (we will call this server PROXYHOST):
    xpra proxy :100 --bind-tcp=0.0.0.0:443 --auth=file --password-file=./xpra-auth
    
  • Start the session we wish to access via the PROXYHOST (we call this TARGETHOST - for testing, this can be the same host as PROXYHOST):
    xpra start :10 --bind-tcp=0.0.0.0:10000
    
  • on PROXYHOST, add a user to the auth file pointing to TARGETHOST (ie: 192.168.1.200 should be TARGETHOST's IP):
    echo "john|secretpassword|1000|1000|tcp:192.168.1.200:10000|EXAMPLE_ENV=VALUE|compression=0" >> ./xpra-auth
    
  • create the password file on the client:
    echo "secretpassword" >> password.txt
    
  • connect from the client:
    xpra attach --username=myusername --password-file=./password.txt $PROXYHOST:20000
    

What happens:

  • the client connects to the proxy server
  • the proxy server asks the client to authenticate and sends it a challenge
  • the client responds to the challenge (see wiki/Authentication)
  • the proxy server verifies the challenge (and disconnects the user if needed)
  • the proxy server identifies the session desired (ie: the one on TARGETHOST)
  • the proxy server creates a new connection to the real server (TARGETHOST), applying any options specified (ie: "compression=0" will disable compression between the proxy and server)
  • the proxy server spawns a new process
  • the new proxy process changes its uid and gid to non-root (if needed)
  • the packets should now flow through between the client and the real server

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