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From André Warnier>
Subject Re: [users@httpd] Setting cookies from proxied backend
Date Sat, 19 Jul 2008 18:17:58 GMT wrote:
> On 7/19/08, André Warnier <> wrote:
>> jamanbo jamanbo wrote:
>>> If I go to which is proxying then I expect that
>>> a good browser will refuse to accept cookies in the domain.
>>> But if it were possibly to configure the proxy so that the browser
>>> thought it was in the domain even though the url was
>>> (which is what I thought a proxy essentially did) then the
>>> cookies would be accepted, and people keep _suggesting_ to me that
>>> this is possible (although nobody ever goes so far as to tell me what
>>> I need to do with my config to achieve this!).
>>> Can you put this question to rest for me once and for all?
>>  Being sorry to stay in the domain of generalities, and not giving you a
>> receipe, I would nevertheless think that if a proxy were to not pass
>> unchanged the cookie headers from sites it proxies, then all these corporate
>> users sitting behind proxying systems would never be able to buy a book from
>> Amazon, would they ?  But I believe they can, can't they ?
>>  (In fact, I am quite sure of that, because our own applications rely on
>> cookies, and they are used constantly by corporate users sitting behind
>> proxies).
>>  So I would think that the *normal* behaviour of a browser and of a proxy
>> server, should be to *not* play around with cookies.
>>  Contrarily to what you say above, I would thus imagine that a browser that
>> accesses, even through a proxy, should accept a response (even
>> physically from the proxy) containing a cookie for "" or
>> "", if such was the URL it requested in the first place.
>>  If it does not in some cases, then there must be some non-default parameter
>> somewhere that prevents it.
>>  In other words also, this would tend to indicate that server responses
>> containing "Set-Cookie" headers should not be cacheable by proxies, because
>> the cookie header may be different each time, even accessing the same URL.
>> (Or, maybe the content is cached, but the HTTP headers cannot be).
>>  Or maybe there is some sophisticated and obscure logic behind this stuff
>> that I fail to grasp.
> I think the confusion is between an network proxy server and a Web
> "reverse" proxy server.
> A network proxy server handles NAT (Network Address Translation).  A
> company internally uses private IP addresses (e.g. 10.*.*.*).  All
> Internet traffic from these internal addresses use a network proxy
> server to reach the Internet.  The proxy server changes the
> originating IP Addresses on the outbound packets from the internal
> network IP address to the proxy's Internet IP address.  Responses from
> the Internet server are received by the proxy server and changed again
> to be sent to the originating computer on the internal network.  The
> browser uses the Internet domain name so Cookies are not affected.
> A Web "reverse" proxy server handles multiple software applications
> appearing as a single server.  The applications can be found on
> multiple ports on one server or on multiple hardware servers.  Visitor
> traffic to several applications goes to one IP Address.  The Web
> server at that IP Address decides where the request should be sent
> distinguishing based on the server name (using Virtual Servers) or the
> path (using Rewrites).  If the applications use Cookies, the
> application Cookies must be rewritten by the Web proxy server because
> the browsers use the server name of the Web proxy server, not the
> application servers.
> 1. The browser requests
> 2. The Web proxy server sends the request to
> 3. The sends a response with a
> Cookie for to the Web proxy
> server.
> 4. The Web proxy server changes the Cookie from
> to
> 5. The browser receives the Cookie for and send the
> Cookie with future requests to the Web proxy server.
> 6. The Web proxy server sends the incoming Cookies with the request to
> the application server as in #2.  (Depending on security, the incoming
> Cookies may need to be changed to match the receiving server.)
> 7. GOTO #3.
> Deciding the type of proxy server being used may be confusing.  An
> Internet request for an internal server can be handled with either
> type depending on the gateway server.
> - Network proxy: The gateway uses firewall software for NAT -- all
> requests for the internal server are sent to the internal server.  The
> internal server sends Cookies using its Internet name.
> - Web proxy: The gateway is a Web server.  Internal application
> servers do not use Internet names so the gateway must translate URLs
> and Cookies.
> --
> The specification in the OP was how to Web proxy requests:
> 1. Server receives request for
> 2. Server passes request to
> 3. Server translates response from amazon so the visitor receives
> Cookies from
> 4. Future requests are translated so the Web proxy server
> ( sends the requests including Cookies to
> Read
> Read the sections applying to "reverse" proxies.  Ignore "forward"
> proxying because that process is not transparent -- the client
> computer must be configured to use a forward proxy.
> I once had difficulty with ProxyPass and switched to using Rewrites so
> I would handle this with something like:
>         RewriteEngine On
>         RewriteRule ^/amazon/(.*)$$1 [P]
>         ProxyPassReverseCookieDomain
>         ProxyPassReverse /amazon/
> This should handle Cookies and handle removing/adding "/amazon" in the path.
> We have not discussed changing links in pages from to use
>  This simple often-needed functionality has been ignored
> by the Apache httpd project.  (This functionality was included in a
> servlet I wrote in 1999.) Research "mod_proxy_html".
> Does this answer your question?
> solprovider
I am not the original OP, but for me that's a great summary, many 
thanks.  I think I'll need a while to digest it, but maybe I'll finally 
understand proxies, and mod_rewrite to boot.

But there is still a third case, no ?
I will pick this up in another thread, not to totally clobber the OP's 
question though.


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