Skip to main content

Rails: authlogic and acl_system2 under Rails 2.3.2

Updated: Documented my migration.

I got authlogic and acl_system2 to work together under Rails 2.3.2. authlogic provides authentication. acl_system2 provide authorization, i.e. ACLs. authlogic is very up-to-date, but acl_system2 is a bit dated. That's okay, though, because it's not the sort of thing that should need to change much.

Let me cover some of the stumbling blocks I encountered after I followed the authlogic tutorial and the acl_system2 documentation.

acl_system2 is not available as a gem. Hence, you need to install it via:
script/plugin install git://
If you followed the authlogic tutorial, you'll end up with the ApplicationController#current_user method being private. To work with acl_system2, it should instead be protected. Otherwise, you'll end up with this:
You have a nil object when you didn't expect it!
The error occurred while evaluating nil.roles (NoMethodError)
.../vendor/plugins/acl_system2/lib/caboose/role_handler.rb:15:in `check'
.../vendor/plugins/acl_system2/lib/caboose/logic_parser.rb:43:in `process'
.../vendor/plugins/acl_system2/lib/caboose/access_control.rb:101:in `allowed?'
.../vendor/plugins/acl_system2/lib/caboose/access_control.rb:28:in `access_control'
Here's what my migration looks like:
class CreateRoles < ActiveRecord::Migration
def self.up
create_table :roles do |t|
t.string :title, :null => false


add_index :roles, :title, :unique => true

create_table :roles_users, :id => false do |t|
t.integer :role_id, :null => false, :options => "CONSTRAINT fk_role_id_roles REFERENCES roles(id)"
t.integer :user_id, :null => false, :options => "CONSTRAINT fk_user_id_users REFERENCES users(id)"

Role.create :title => "admin"

def self.down
drop_table :roles_users
drop_table :roles
Each of my controllers has something like:
before_filter :require_user
access_control :DEFAULT => 'admin'
I decided to add the following to ApplicationController as protected methods:
def permission_denied
render :text => "Forbidden", :status => "403 Forbidden"

def permission_granted
That way the HTTP status gets set for "Permission denied".

In order to test the above using Cucumber and Webrat, I added a feature step like:
And the HTTP status should be "403 Forbidden"
Then, I added a step definition:
Then /^the HTTP status should be "([^\"]*)"$/ do |status|
response.status.should == status
So far, I'm pleased :)


Unknown said…
There is also something else that caused me to spend some time debugging, and that is that acl_system2 makes the assumption that there is a method called "current_user". In access_control.rb:

@default_access_context[:user] = send(:current_user) if respond_to?(:current_user)

Now that is fine and dandy but my method was not called current_user, and because of this it was throwing the nil.roles error (and there was no obvious stack trace).

The reason I had to change the (I guess "standard") naming of current_user is very non-obvious (and I also spent a long time debugging this). I use ActiveScaffold and that is also defining its own version (and for different purposes) of "current_user".

I hope to be able to patch acl_system2 in a way that makes this naming convention more obvious.

Thanks for your post, as it helped me determine the problem.
jjinux said…
Good luck with that.

Popular posts from this blog

Ubuntu 20.04 on a 2015 15" MacBook Pro

I decided to give Ubuntu 20.04 a try on my 2015 15" MacBook Pro. I didn't actually install it; I just live booted from a USB thumb drive which was enough to try out everything I wanted. In summary, it's not perfect, and issues with my camera would prevent me from switching, but given the right hardware, I think it's a really viable option. The first thing I wanted to try was what would happen if I plugged in a non-HiDPI screen given that my laptop has a HiDPI screen. Without sub-pixel scaling, whatever scale rate I picked for one screen would apply to the other. However, once I turned on sub-pixel scaling, I was able to pick different scale rates for the internal and external displays. That looked ok. I tried plugging in and unplugging multiple times, and it didn't crash. I doubt it'd work with my Thunderbolt display at work, but it worked fine for my HDMI displays at home. I even plugged it into my TV, and it stuck to the 100% scaling I picked for the othe

ERNOS: Erlang Networked Operating System

I've been reading Dreaming in Code lately, and I really like it. If you're not a dreamer, you may safely skip the rest of this post ;) In Chapter 10, "Engineers and Artists", Alan Kay, John Backus, and Jaron Lanier really got me thinking. I've also been thinking a lot about Minix 3 , Erlang , and the original Lisp machine . The ideas are beginning to synthesize into something cohesive--more than just the sum of their parts. Now, I'm sure that many of these ideas have already been envisioned within , LLVM , Microsoft's Singularity project, or in some other place that I haven't managed to discover or fully read, but I'm going to blog them anyway. Rather than wax philosophical, let me just dump out some ideas: Start with Minix 3. It's a new microkernel, and it's meant for real use, unlike the original Minix. "This new OS is extremely small, with the part that runs in kernel mode under 4000 lines of executable code.&quo

Drawing Sierpinski's Triangle in Minecraft Using Python

In his keynote at PyCon, Eben Upton, the Executive Director of the Rasberry Pi Foundation, mentioned that not only has Minecraft been ported to the Rasberry Pi, but you can even control it with Python . Since four of my kids are avid Minecraft fans, I figured this might be a good time to teach them to program using Python. So I started yesterday with the goal of programming something cool for Minecraft and then showing it off at the San Francisco Python Meetup in the evening. The first problem that I faced was that I didn't have a Rasberry Pi. You can't hack Minecraft by just installing the Minecraft client. Speaking of which, I didn't have the Minecraft client installed either ;) My kids always play it on their Nexus 7s. I found an open source Minecraft server called Bukkit that "provides the means to extend the popular Minecraft multiplayer server." Then I found a plugin called RaspberryJuice that implements a subset of the Minecraft Pi modding API for B