I installed a server for Redmine, running with Nginx/Passenger. The server also hosts Gitlab and it goes well.

I put some kind of SSO plugin for Redmine (which I found and installed) and it needs an environment variable to be filled with the user name : this is where it is getting tricky. So far I can separately :

  • get the username from the X-Forwarded-User header
  • auto connect to Redmine passing the username as a constant value
  • auto connect to Redmine passing the right username as a constant value after testing the current forwarded value => that IS ugly and requires to do a test for each existing user

But I cannot directly set the username with the forwarded value, it looks like the $http_x_forwarded_user variable is not being evaluated...

Is there a neat solution ? My current Nginx/Passenger config :

upstream gitlab-workhorse {
  server unix:/var/opt/gitlab/gitlab-workhorse/socket fail_timeout=0;

server {
  listen [::]:80 ipv6only=on default_server;
  server_name server.example.com
  server_tokens off; ## Don't show the nginx version number, a security best practice

  root /opt/gitlab/embedded/service/gitlab-rails/public;

  location / {
    proxy_read_timeout 300;
    proxy_connect_timeout 300;
    proxy_redirect off;
    proxy_http_version 1.1;
    proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
    proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
    proxy_pass http://gitlab-workhorse;
    access_log /var/log/nginx/gitlab_access.log;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/gitlab_error.log;

  location ~ ^/redmine(/.*|$) {
        alias /opt/redmine/public$1;
        passenger_base_uri /redmine;
        passenger_app_root /opt/redmine;
        passenger_document_root /opt/redmine/public;
        passenger_enabled on;
        access_log /var/log/nginx/redmine_access.log;
        error_log /var/log/nginx/redmine_error.log;

        # returns "dave", who is the connected user => great !
        return 200 $http_x_forwarded_user;

        # connects on Redmine as Dave => marvelous !
        passenger_env_var REMOTE_USER dave;

        # working but ugly solution
        if ($http_x_forwarded_user = "dave") {
            passenger_env_var REMOTE_USER dave;
        if ($http_x_forwarded_user = "john") {
            passenger_env_var REMOTE_USER john;
#       ... and so on for every single user having an account...

        # fails : "user does not exist in database" => $http_x_forwarded_user not being evaluated ??
        passenger_env_var REMOTE_USER $http_x_forwarded_user;

1 Answer 1


According to this bug report, this is currently broken:

passenger_env_var VAR $nginx_var; sets VAR to $nginx_var, not its value.

Possible workaround:

  • Drop passenger (but keep Nginx)
  • Setup redmine via uwsgi, which

aims at developing a full stack for building hosting services.

Application servers (for various programming languages and protocols), proxies, process managers and monitors are all implemented using a common api and a common configuration style.

Thanks to its pluggable architecture it can be extended to support more platforms and languages.

Currently, you can write plugins in C, C++ and Objective-C.

The “WSGI” part in the name is a tribute to the namesake Python standard, as it has been the first developed plugin for the project.

Versatility, performance, low-resource usage and reliability are the strengths of the project (and the only rules followed).

Using this myself in multiple production environments, highly recommend!

  • 1
    Thanks for pointing out the bug ! It seems like it will not be fixed shortly as it is labelled as 'enhancement' and was opened something like 18 months ago... This pushes me toward the workaround with uwsgi Oct 5, 2017 at 8:51

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