[Grok-dev] security notifications in grokui.admin

Uli Fouquet uli at gnufix.de
Tue Dec 23 07:09:04 EST 2008

Hi there,

there is now an implementation of the security notifier feature
available in `grokui.admin` trunk (not released yet, of course).

It works as follows:

 - on startup it installs (if not done yet) and registers a persistent 
   SecurityNotifier utility in the root folder (its site manager to be 

 - By default it is disabled. If it is disabled, no lookups are done.

 - A message (viewlet) is displayed on all admin UI pages giving the 
   current security status fetched by this utility.

 - If the `SecurityNotifier` is disabled, the message is something like 
   ``Security notifications are disabled.``.

 - The security notifier can be enabled/disabled on the ``server`` page 
   of the admin UI.

 - If the `SecurityNotifier` is enabled, it looks up 
   http:grok.zope.org/releaseinfo/ for a file named like


   and displays its content literally if any. If no such file is found, 
   nothing is displayed.

Some side notes:

 - If enabled, lookups are done not more often than every hour. This way
   we make sure, that not every request to the admin UI also leads to a 
   request to the grok server.

 - There is support for setting a different lookup URL. This way you 
   can maintain a private copy of the grok releaseinfo directory which 
   is asked instead of the grok site. Might improve privacy.

   As messages are not restricted to security stuff, it is also 
   possible for providers etc. to set up messages for there customers 

 - I also added support for some 'Info Views' (thanks to Tonis 
   suggestions) which can easily be retrieved with `curl` and similar 
   tools. Currently you can get the grok version used in background and 
   any security notification this way. Just fetch


   to get the current grok version used in plain text and


   to get the current security notification. Here the same restrictions 
   apply as above: if the security notifier is disabled, you will only 
   get 'Security notifications are disabled.' and will have to enable 
   them manually on the server page. Furthermore real lookups are done 
   not more often than once every hour. Triggering this view more often 
   therefore makes no sense.

 - The security notifier is looked up from the admin UI by usual 
   getUtility calls asking for 
   `grokui.admin.interfaces.ISecurityNotifier`. This means, that you 
   can also override the standard security notifier and implement your 
   own if you like. Every notifier that proper implements the interface 
   is usable by the admin UI.

 - Looking up HTTP messages is done using a specialized HTTP handler 
   that aborts after a connection timeout of two seconds. This way no 
   serious hangs should occur when working without internet 

 - Any lookup URL works that is supported by urllib2, which includes 
   also 'file://...' URLS. This means, that you can even create a 
   private directory on your server, where you place copies of the 
   grok.zope.org/releaseinfo messages or your own messages.

 - The `SecurityNotifier` keeps a version number, so that it can be 
   updated automatically in upcoming releases.

 - The notifications are fetched and displayed 'as-is'. No format 
   conversions or special parsing happens.

As you can see, I tried to incorporate some of the suggestions on the
list (many thanks for that) while others are (yet) not implemented.

I am yet undecided about Brandon's suggestion to keep one file for all
versions instead of several files for different versions on the grok
site. If we prefer the 'one-file'-approach, then we should have an
agreement about the format, so that also multiline notifications can be
held in such a file.

Anyway, this is the point where you can give you input.

Best regards,


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