HTAccess Authentication
Tutorial

This tutorial covers web-based user authentication using HTAccess. Web-based authentication denies web access to visitors who do not give a valid username and password. This feature allows webmasters to restrict access to certain directories. The usernames and encrypted passwords are kept in a webmaster-maintained file. This is not the same as ordering another Clever Telnet/FTP Account. Visitors need not have a Clever Account to use Web-based access -- the mechanisms are separate and unique.

Difficulty: Easy to Medium

You will need the following basic skills:

Here we go!

The following is an example use of the .htaccess file. Let's assume that it resides at /mnt/web/guide/somewhere/somepath/.htaccess

AuthUserFile /mnt/web/guide/somewhere/somepath/.htpasswd
AuthGroupFile /dev/null
AuthName Somewhere.com's Secret Section
AuthType Basic

<Limit GET POST>
require valid-user
</Limit>

Authentication Dialog BoxThe .htaccess file affects the directory in which it is placed, so in this example, any visitor requesting <URL:http://somewhere.com/somepath/> would be presented with an authentication request.

The .htaccess file also affects directories recursively below it. Therefore, requesting <URL:http://somewhere.com/somepath/evenmore/> would yeild the same authentication request unless ~/somepath/evenmore had a .htaccess file of its own.

The first line, starting with AuthUserFile, tells the webserver where to find your username/password file. We'll create that file in a minute. For now, change the AuthUserFile line as necessary for your use.

Notice that the AuthName in the example, "Somewhere.com's Secret Section," is used in the authentication request.

Using your favorite text editor, create a file similar to the example, replacing AuthUserFile and AuthName with values for your situation. Be sure to name the file .htaccess.

Now that we understand the basic .htaccess model, how can we specify who is allowed? We'll create an .htpasswd file named in the AuthUserFile line above.

To create an .htpasswd file, go to the directory you specified in AuthUserFile. In the example, this is /mnt/web/guide/somewhere/somepath. Then use the htpasswd program with the -c switch to create your .htpasswd in the current directory.

Type htpasswd -c .htpasswd username to create the file and add "username" as the first user. The program will prompt you for a password, then verify by asking again. You will not see the password when entering it here:

wwwX:/mnt/web/guide/somewhere/somepath#
htpasswd -c .htpasswd username
Adding password for username.
New password:
password
Re-type new password:
password



To add more users in the future, use the same command without the -c switch: htpasswd .htpasswd bob will add username "bob" to your .htpasswd file.

To delete users, open the .htpasswd file in a text editor and delete the appropriatelines:

username:v3l0KWx6v8mQM
bob:x4DtaLTqsElC2