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By Date: February 2020

Domino Administration Back to Basics (Part 2) - Networking


In Part 1 we learned about the marvelous world of Notes Names, X400 and the perils of messing with certificates. One big difference to X509 is the (almost) absence of certificate Command Line tools that can be so much fun.

Domino Networking - protocols as you like it

Domino predates the rise of TCP/IP and the internet. To no surprise it has its own idea about networking. Starting with protocol support:

  • Netbios using NDIS (doesn't route) and
  • IPX/SPX A protocol from days long past, when red boxes weren't Redhat but Novell
  • X.PC DialUp - Yes. A modem or something that takes modem commands and will establish a serial connection, no longer ships with Notes
  • A few more obscure protocols: Vines, SPXII
  • last not least TCP/IP

Having this zoo of protocols, Notes needs its own version of name resolution. That version is called Notes Named Network

One step back: What makes a Notes Domain?

A Notes Domain consists out of one or more server that use a Domino directory (a.k.a Public Name & Addressbook a.k.a names.nsf) with the same replica id (a story for another time) as the other member servers and have the same Domain name in their server document (that's where most of the server's setting are stored).

A popular point of confusion: Notes Names (from Part1) and Notes Domains: It is quite common to name your Domain after your orgID, but not mandatory. SO you could have HeavyRock/Acme@Acme or Sandstone/Acme@ToonsInc or Machine/Blowup@Acme The first and the last would be in the same Domain, while the first and second share the Org certifier. Anything goes, but to keep it simple, keep OrgId and Domain the same - unless you have 5 good reasons not to.

Another one: NEVER name your Notes Domain so it could be mistaken for an internet Domain. So no . in the name. Spaces interestingly are OK!


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Posted by on 05 February 2020 | Comments (2) | categories: Domino Networking

Domino Administration - Back to Basics (Part 1) - Certificates


Domino is different, a lot of its concepts predate the internet and quite often inspired the standards. This is not an step-by-step instruction, but an introduction into concepts. The "step by step" approach is another story for another time.

In the beginning was the Certificate

Notes and Domino run using ID files. This are not merly files that can arbitrarily reconstructed, but cryptographically created Public Private key pairs. To avoid naming collisions the key names are hierarchical (Since R2), so anyone can call their server Server1 without confusion (sort of). This hierarchy is achieved using X400 naming conventions, an early competitor to DNS naming. A X400 name can consist out of multiple parts, these are the ones Domino is using:

X500 Name

So the minimum is a common name and an Org. The starting point of each Domino journey is the creation of the OrgID. All other parts depend on it. Note: there isn't a country ID, even if country mentioned after the Org. When you create your OrgID (while setting up the very first server), you can specify the country and it becomes part of the OrgID.

In practise however I haven't seen many OrgIDs that would carry a country code in them. So you can skip that part.

Signing Ids

Using the OrgID as signing certificat, one can go and create server and user certificates. E.g using the OrgID /O=Acme one can create /CN=Coyotee/O=Acme. For convenience the qualifiers are usually omitted, their meaning results from the position (and the fact that country is 2 letter if present and Orgs have 3 or more). So instead of /CN=Coyotee/O=Acme one can write Coyotee/Acme.

In practise however more enlightened organisation use their OrgCert as cautiously as root certificates in the X509 world and only register/sign Organizational Unit (/OU=) Ids which then can be used to sign server and user certificates.

Trust between certificate is hierarchical, similar to Internet certificates, so IDs having the same root (/O) certifier recognizse each other. The hierachy can be used in Access Control (another story for another time) to grant access to all IDs at a given level e.g. /OU=Management/O=Acme


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Posted by on 04 February 2020 | Comments (3) | categories: Domino

Generating JWT tokens for tests


There are many options for Authentication and Authorisation. I'm fond of Json Web Tokens (JWT), implementing RFC7519. Mostly because they are like LTPA ~~for grownups~~, but standard compliant

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

JWT contains information that is digitally signed (and optional encrypted), so a receiving end can verify that the information is correct. The key elements here are:

  • the JWT contains a claim, at least the subject that is tamper resistant by being digitally signed
  • JWT issuer and JWT consumer trust each other, by either having a shared secret (bad idea) or using a public/private key pair. The issuer signs the information with a private key. The consumer (your application server) verifies the signature using the public key

So besides protecting the private key of the issuer, you also want to be clear who's keys you trust. The one who holds your identity can impersonate you at any time (so you might rethink if "Login with Facebook" is such a brilliant idea after all).

However when testing systems, you develop local, you want to be able to have any user at your disposal, so you can generate the claim that is the Open Sesame to your test regime

Building a claim

We start by building the raw claim template.json file:

{
  "iss": "Alibaba Caves",
  "aud": "40Thiefs",
  "expSeconds": 300
}

It contains an issuer, an audience and the duration in seconds. The later one is for my convenience. The receiving system might or might not check issuer (iss) and/or audience (aud).

Next step is to create a public/private key pair


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Posted by on 01 February 2020 | Comments (0) | categories: JavaScript WebDevelopment

Running a CalDAV server on Ubuntu (2020 edition)


When playing with calDAV it makes sense to have a reference implementation to refer to. The GOLD standard ist Apple's CalendarServer with its lovely Open Source Repository.

Getting it to work on Linux (Ubuntu in my case), isn't for the faint of heart. Here is what you need to do.

File system preparation

Calendar server needs extended attributes. The default Ext4 file system does support them out of the box, but you want to check first (you might have a different file system after all):

Check if file system supports extended attributes

Check using this command:

touch test.txt
setfattr -n user.test -v "hello" test.txt
getfattr test.txt

Expected output: user.test

If the command setfattr is not available, install with sudo install attr

Enable extended atttributes if required

Important if the previous command worked, skip this step. Don't mess with fstab! Make a backup copy if required and have your emergency boot stick ready. A messed up fstab will prevent your machine from booting!

Edit /etc/fstab. In the 4th colum of the file system add user_xattr. There might be values like noatime or defaults. Add user_xattr separated by a comma. Reboot.

Install calendar server

Execute sudo apt install calendarserver postgresql.

The server wants a postgresql database, so you need to be sure to have that installed too. Apple loves Python, so there ill be quite some phython packages installed, as well as a new user caldavd Since this is a system user, its home directory is /var/spool/caldav


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Posted by on 01 February 2020 | Comments (1) | categories: calDAV WebDevelopment