Trac is super crap

A couple of projects I work on use Trac (0.12.1, the latest at time of writing) for bug/issue tracking. I recently got an email from a user of our Trac system, saying that she couldn’t seem to reset her password – that is, the system told her that it had reset her password and sent her an email with the new password, but in fact the email with the new password never arrived.

I went to scan the trac logs, but it turns out they were disabled by default (first problem). I enabled the logs and reset my own password, but no joy – nothing untoward appears in the logs. I checked and double-checked the mail settings, but they all looked ok. I then altered the configuration, switching from SMTP to sendmail and specifying a freshly-crafted wrapper script which logs when it’s called as the “sendmail” executable. With this I can verify that the mail is not sent – the script doesn’t appear to be being executed, and the mail server logs show no activity.

Finally I stumble on another setting:

acct_mgr.notification.accountchangelistener = enabled

And with this, finally, finally, Trac starts sending the new password emails when I do a password reset. Now, this is a documented setting, but really, I mean really, couldn’t there have been some warning in the logs? Or could maybe the setting to allow users to reset their password also enable the “account change listener” (whatever that is)? Is it too much to ask that an obviously broken configuration be either made redundant or at least identified as such by the software?

Well, I’ve solved the original problem. It’s at this point, though, that I realise a much more significant problem exists: The Trac AccountManagerPlugin password reset functionality allows anyone to reset anyone else’s password, and, get this, this is where it gets good, they can have the new password sent to any email address. [Update: no, this is wrong; once you actually enable the acountchangelistener setting as described above, you get an error if the specified email address doesn’t match the account. However, if you don’t enable that setting, then anyone can reset your password; however they won’t receive the new password at the email address they specify].

When the password reset functionality is enabled, if you register as a new Trac user you will see text telling you that providing your email address is optional, but if you do provide it you will be able to “reset your password if you ever forget it”. That’s clearly bollocks [if accountmanagerlistener isn’t enabled], since the password reset function doesn’t verify that the email address is correct for the user [in that case].

The real problem, I guess, is that Trac doesn’t provide any decent built-in account management. I mean, should the account manager – a most basic piece of functionality – really be a plugin? I don’t think so. (Worse than that, to use the plugin with Trac 0.12, you have to use a subversion pull of the plugin rather than a released version!).

And that is why Trac is super crap.


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