How does TeamForge authenticate CVS users?

CVS is treated as a special case when managed by a TeamForge site. It is not authenticated in the same way as SOAP API clients.

CVS relies on the Linux operating system to provide access and security. This includes permissions on individual repositories and access to the server itself. To add users, change passwords, create repositories, etc., the TeamForge integration simply changes the appropriate settings in the Linux operating system.

Users access CVS via an encrypted SSH session. To support this, TeamForge creates accounts on the Linux server that hosts the CVS repository. A typical CVS repository is created in the /cvsroot directory and is owned by root, with a group assigned by TeamForge. To gain access to a repository, TeamForge will add a user to the appropriate system group.

When TeamForge detects that a user's password has changed, it changes the password for that user on the Linux server too.

Users also have the option to use SSH keys or Kerberos tickets.

When a user is added to the Linux server, the login shell is cvssh, which limits their activities to CVS commands.

Important: Do not expose cvspserver (the TCP protocol over port 2401) either internally or to the Internet if there is any way you can avoid it.

Password changes under internal authentication

To set the password for the user at the operating system level, TeamForge needs to have the clear-text version of the users password. The only time TeamForge has this is when the user uses the Change Password form in the Web UI. This is because the database-stored version, as an MD5 Password Hash, is a one-way encryption and can't be decrypted.

On a successful password update, TeamForge makes a SOAP call to the integration server that manages CVS. For this reason, the integration server must be SSL-enabled.

Password changes under external authentication

When a password change happens in an external authentication system, TeamForge does not immediately know that the password has changed. TeamForge needs a way to detect that the password has changed.

To accomplish this it keeps a copy of the last password the user successfully logged in with as an MD5 Password Hash in the same database table and field that it normally uses for Internal Authentication.

Now that TeamForge has a reference point, it still needs a clear-text copy of the password to make the change at the Linux operating system level. The only time this is available is when the user logs into TeamForge via the Web UI or SOAP API. So upon a successful login TeamForge compares the password to the encrypted one. If it is different it tells the Linux operating system to change the users password and then saves it in the database (as an MD5 Password hash).

Until the user logs into TeamForge, the CVS server will still have and accept the old password. There is no CVS server-side way to trigger a password update, unless an alternative method is used, such as LDAP or Kerberos.

Alternative Authentication

Because users use SSH to access a TeamForge-managed CVS server, it is possible to configure SSH to accept other authentication features such as SSH keys and Kerberos tickets. It is even possible to disable the use of passwords and require the use of other alternative methods.


Linux supports LDAP as an authentication source. If TeamForge is using External Authentication and the source is LDAP, then SSH can also use that same source. When you do this, passwords and user account status are observed in real time instead of as a mirror of TeamForge.