Authentication Settings


Many different authentication policies can be described in the authentication.conf file but a particular user should need only a few definitions to cover his needs without having to specify a user and a password for every branch he uses.

The definitions found in this file are used to find the credentials to use for a given url. The same credentials can generally be used for as many branches as possible by grouping their declaration around the remote servers that need them. It’s even possible to declare credentials that will be used by different servers.

The intent is to make this file as small as possible to minimize maintenance.

Once the relevant credentials are declared in this file you may use branch urls without embedding passwords (security hazard) or even users (enabling sharing of your urls with others).

Instead of using:

bzr branch

you simply use:

bzr branch

provided you have created the following authentication.conf file:


Authentication definitions

There are two kinds of authentication used by the various schemes supported by bzr:

  1. user and password

FTP needs a (user, password) to authenticate against a host SFTP can use either a password or a host key to authenticate. However, ssh agents are a better, more secure solution. So we have chosen to not provide our own less secure method.

  1. user, realm and password

HTTP and HTTPS needs a (user, realm, password) to authenticate against a host. But, by using .htaccess files, for example, it is possible to define several (user, realm, password) for a given host. So what is really needed is (user, password, host, path). The realm is not taken into account in the definitions, but will displayed if bzr prompts you for a password.

HTTP proxy can be handled as HTTP (or HTTPS) by explicitly specifying the appropriate port.

To take all schemes into account, the password will be deduced from a set of authentication definitions (scheme, host, port, path, user, password).

  • scheme: can be empty (meaning the rest of the definition can be used for any scheme), SFTP and bzr+ssh should not be used here, ssh should be used instead since this is the real scheme regarding authentication,
  • host: can be empty (to act as a default for any host),
  • port can be empty (useful when an host provides several servers for the same scheme), only numerical values are allowed, this should be used only when the server uses a port different than the scheme standard port,
  • path: can be empty (FTP or SFTP will never user it),
  • user: can be empty (bzr will defaults to python’s getpass.get_user()),
  • password: can be empty if you prefer to always be prompted for your password.

Multiple definitions can be provided and, for a given URL, bzr will select a (user [, password]) based on the following rules :

  1. the first match wins,
  2. empty fields match everything,
  3. scheme matches even if decorators are used in the requested URL,
  4. host matches exactly or act as a domain if it starts with ‘.’ ( will match but will not match
  5. port matches if included in the requested URL (exact matches only)
  6. path matches if included in the requested URL (and by rule #2 above, empty paths will match any provided path).

File format

The general rules for configuration files apply except for the variable policies.

Each section describes an authentication definition.

The section name is an arbitrary string, only the DEFAULT value is reserved and should appear as the last section.

Each section should define:

  • user: the login to be used,

Each section could define:

  • host: the remote server,
  • port: the port the server is listening,
  • path: the branch location,
  • password: the password.


Personal projects hosted outside

All connections are done with the same user (the remote one for which the default bzr one is not appropriate) and the password is always prompted with some exceptions:

# Pet projects on

# Home server

# Our local user is barbaz, on all remote sites we're known as foobar

Source hosting provider

In the (fictitious) domain, each project has its own site:

[shpnet domain]
# we use sftp, but ssh is the scheme used for authentication
# The leading '.' ensures that '' alone doesn't match
# bzr don't support supplying a password for sftp,
# consider using an ssh agent if you don't want to supply
# a password interactively. (pageant, ssh-agent, etc)

HTTPS, SFTP servers and their proxy

At, the server hosting release and integration branches is behind a proxy, and the two branches use different authentication policies:

[reference code]

# development branches on dev server
scheme=ssh # bzr+ssh and sftp are available here

# proxy

Planned enhancements

The following are not yet implemented but planned as parts of a work in progress:

  • add a password_encoding field allowing:
    • storing the passwords in various obfuscating encodings (base64 for one),
    • delegate password storage to plugins (.netrc for example).
  • update the credentials when the user is prompted for user or password,
  • add a verify_certificates field for HTTPS.

The password_encoding and verify_certificates fields are recognized but ignored in the actual implementation.