Jan 29, 2017

Proxying ssh user connections to gitolite host transparently

Recently bumped into apparently not well-supported scenario of accessing gitolite instance transparently on a host that is only accessible through some other gateway (often called "bastion" in ssh context) host.

Something like this:

+---------------+
|               |   git@myhost.net:myrepo
|  dev-machine  ---------------------------+
|               |                          |
+---------------+                          |
                              +------------v------+
      git@gitolite:myrepo     |                   |
  +----------------------------  myhost.net (gw)  |
  |                           |                   |
+-v-------------------+       +-------------------+
|                     |
|    gitolite (gl)    |
|  host/container/vm  |
|                     |
+---------------------+

Here gitolite instance might be running on a separate machine, or on the same "myhost.net", but inside a container or vm with separate sshd daemon.

From any dev-machine you want to simply use git@myhost.net:myrepo to access repositories, but naturally that won't work because in normal configuration you'd hit sshd on gw host (myhost.net) and not on gl host.

There are quite a few common options to work around this:

  • Use separate public host/IP for gitolite, e.g. git.myhost.net (!= myhost.net).

  • TCP port forwarding or similar tricks.

    E.g. simply forward ssh port connections in a "gw:22 -> gl:22" fashion, and have gw-specific sshd listen on some other port, if necessary.

    This can be fairly easy to use with something like this for odd-port sshd in ~/.ssh/config:

    Host myhost.net
      Port 1234
    Host git.myhost.net
      Port 1235
    

    Can also be configured in git via remote urls like ssh://git@myhost.net:1235/myrepo.

  • Use ssh port forwarding to essentially do same thing as above, but with resulting git port accessible on localhost.

  • Configure ssh to use ProxyCommand, which will login to gw host and setup forwarding through it.

All of these, while suitable for some scenarios, are still nowhere near what I'd call "transparent", and require some additional configuration for each git client beyond just git add remote origin git@myhost.net:myrepo.

One advantage of such lower-level forwarding is that ssh authentication to gitolite is only handled on gitolite host, gw host has no clue about that.

If dropping this is not a big deal (e.g. because gw host has root access to everything in gl container anyway), there is a rather easy way to forward only git@myhost.net connections from gw to gl host, authenticating them only on gw instead, described below.


Gitolite works by building ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file with essentially command="gitolite-shell gl-key-id" <gl-key> for each public key pushed to gitolite-admin repository.

Hence to proxy connections from gw, similar key-list should be available there, with key-commands ssh'ing into gitolite user/host and running above commands there (with original git commands also passed through SSH_ORIGINAL_COMMAND env-var).

To keep such list up-to-date, post-update trigger/hook for gitolite-admin repo is needed, which can use same git@gw login (with special "gl auth admin" key) to update key-list on gw host.

Steps to implement/deploy whole thing:

  • useradd -m git on gw and run ssh-keygen -t ed25519 on both gw and gl hosts for git/gitolite user.

  • Setup all connections for git@gw to be processed via single "gitolite proxy" command, disallowing anything else, exactly like gitolite does for its users on gl host.

    gitolite-proxy.py script (python3) that I came up with for this purpose can be found here: https://github.com/mk-fg/gitolite-ssh-user-proxy/

    It's rather simple and does two things:

    • When run with --auth-update argument, receives gitolite authorized_keys list, and builds local ~/.ssh/authorized_keys from it and authorized_keys.base file.

    • Similar to gitolite-shell, when run as gitolite-proxy key-id, ssh'es into gl host, passing key-id and git command to it.

      This is done in a straightforward os.execlp('ssh', 'ssh', '-qT', ...) manner, no extra processing or any error-prone stuff like that.

    When installing it (to e.g. /usr/local/bin/gitolite-proxy as used below), be sure to set/update "gl_host_login = ..." line at the top there.

    For --auth-update, ~/.ssh/authorized_keys.base (note .base) file on gw should have this single line (split over two lines for readability, must be all on one line for ssh!):

    command="/usr/local/bin/gitolite-proxy --auth-update",no-port-forwarding
      ,no-X11-forwarding,no-agent-forwarding,no-pty ssh-ed25519 AAA...4u3FI git@gl
    

    Here ssh-ed25519 AAA...4u3FI git@gl is the key from ~git/.ssh/id_ed25519.pub on gitolite host.

    Also run:

    # install -m0600 -o git -g git ~git/.ssh/authorized_keys{.base,}
    # install -m0600 -o git -g git ~git/.ssh/authorized_keys{.base,.old}
    
    To have initial auth-file, not yet populated with gitolite-specific keys/commands.
    Note that only these two files need to be writable for git user on gw host.
  • From gitolite (gl) host and user, run: ssh -qT git@gw < ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

    This is to test gitolite-proxy setup above - should populate ~git/.ssh/authorized_keys on gw host and print back gw host key and proxy script to run as command="..." for it (ignore them, will be installed by trigger).

  • Add trigger that'd run after gitolite-admin repository updates on gl host.

    • On gl host, put this to ~git/.gitolite.rc right before ENABLE line:

      LOCAL_CODE => "$rc{GL_ADMIN_BASE}/local",
      POST_COMPILE => ['push-authkeys'],
      
    • Commit/push push-authkeys trigger script (also from gitolite-ssh-user-proxy repo) to gitolite-admin repo as local/triggers/push-authkeys, updating gw_proxy_login line in there.

    gitolite docs on adding triggers: http://gitolite.com/gitolite/gitolite.html#triggers

Once proxy-command is in place on gw and gitolite-admin hook runs at least once (to setup gw->gl access and proxy-command), git@gw (git@myhost.net) ssh login spec can be used in exactly same way as git@gl.

That is, fully transparent access to gitolite on a different host through that one user, while otherwise allowing to use sshd on a gw host, without any forwarding tricks necessary for git clients.

Whole project, with maybe a bit more refined process description and/or whatever fixes can be found on github here: https://github.com/mk-fg/gitolite-ssh-user-proxy/

Huge thanks to sitaramc (gitolite author) for suggesting how to best setup gitolite triggers for this purpose on the ML.

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