Configuring WebDAV and Digest Authentication for Ubuntu

I'm looking at using WPKG as a mechanism for distributing software updates to client workstations. WPKG appears to be a pretty nice system, but it has one big downside: one has to set up a WebDAV-enabled server if the updates are to be pulled from the Internet instead of from a local shared directory. So I've spent a few hours learning the intricacies of setting up WebDAV on my Ubuntu-based Internet server and accessing it from Windows machines. Here's what I learned.

I started by following the steps here: How To Set Up WebDAV With Apache2 On Ubuntu 9.04.

That seemed to get me working: I could access the webdav directory without any problem using web browsers, Mac OS X, or Linux. However, it didn't work when I tried to connect from Windows, which is unfortunate, because Windows is the one platform where I need it to work.

After a couple of hours of Googling and hair-pulling, I discovered that the problem is that Windows Vista and Windows 7 don't support Basic HTTP authentication for WebDAV. One needs to either use Digest authentication, or make registry changes to enable Basic authentication.

I didn't want to force registry changes on all the client machines, and Digest authentication is The Right Thing anyway, so I changed my Apache configuration to do it.

Here are the new lines that ended up in my /etc/apache2/sites-available/default file:

    <Directory /var/www/webdav/>
            Options Indexes MultiViews
            AllowOverride None
            Order allow,deny
            allow from all

    Alias /webdav /var/www/webdav

    <Location /webdav/>
            DAV On
            AuthType Digest
            AuthName "webdav"
            AuthDigestDomain /webdav/
            AuthDigestProvider file
            AuthUserFile /var/www/webdav/.digest_passwd.dav
            Require valid-user

I had to enable the auth_digest module:

sudo a2enmod auth_digest

Then I had to create the digest authentication file, adding the user test:

sudo htdigest -c /var/www/webdav/.digest_passwd.dav webdav test
sudo chown root:www-data /var/www/webdav/.digest_passwd.dav
sudo chmod 640 /var/www/webdav/.digest_passwd.dav

With all those changes made, I did this

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

And then I verified that I could do the following from my Windows box:

net use \\\webdav MYPASSWORD /user:test
dir \\\webdav

With that done, I then set up WPKG and everything was easy and smooth!

(Not really, but the problems weren't due to WebDAV.)