Fork me on GitHub

Permissions : The Default Implementation

General Notes

The default implementation of the PermissionProvider interface evaluates permissions based on the information stored in a dedicated part of the repository content call the permission store.

Characteristics of the Permission Evaluation

Regular Permission Evaluation

See section Permission Evaluation in Detail.

Readable Trees

Oak 1.0 comes with a configurable set of subtrees that are read-accessible to all subjects irrespective of other access control content taking effect. The original aim of these readable trees is to assert full acccess to namespace, nodetype and privilege information and the corresponding configuration therefore lists the following paths:

  • /jcr:system/rep:namespaces: stores all registered namespaces
  • /jcr:system/jcr:nodeTypes: stores all registered node types
  • /jcr:system/rep:privileges: stores all registered privileges

This default set can be changed or extended by setting the corresponding configuration option. However, it is important to note that many JCR API calls rely on the accessibility of the namespace, nodetype and privilege information. Removing the corresponding paths from the configuration will most probably have undesired effects.

Administrative Access

In the default implementation following principals always have full access to the whole content repository (except for hidden items that are not exposed on the Oak API) irrespective of the access control content:

  • SystemPrincipal
  • All instances of AdminPrincipal
  • All principals whose name matches the configured administrative principal names (see Configuration section below). This configuration only applies to the permission evaluation and is currently not reflected in other security models nor methods that deal with the administrator (i.e. User#isAdmin).

Permission Evaluation in Multiplexed Stores

See section Multiplexing support in the PermissionStore.

Representation in the Repository

Permission Store

The permission evaluation present with Oak 1.0 keeps a dedicated location where permissions are being stored for later evaluation. The store is kept in sync with the access control content by a separated PostValidationHook implementation ([PermissionHook]).

The location of the permission store is /jcr:system/rep:permissionStore; in accordance with other stores underneath jcr:system it is global to the whole repository keeping a separate entry for each workspace present with the repository.

The permission entries are grouped by principal and stored below the store root based on the hash value of the path of the access controlled node; hash collisions are handled by adding subnodes accordingly.

/jcr:system/rep:permissionStore/workspace-name [rep:PermissionStore]
    /principal-name [rep:PermissionStore]
        /1259237738 [rep:PermissionStore]
            /0     [rep:Permissions]
            /1     [rep:Permissions]
            /c0     [rep:PermissionStore]   # hash collision
                /0      [rep:Permissions]
                /1      [rep:Permissions]
                /2      [rep:Permissions]
            /c1     [rep:PermissionStore]   # hash collision
                /0      [rep:Permissions]
                /1      [rep:Permissions]
                /2      [rep:Permissions]
        /47    [rep:PermissionStore]
            /0     [rep:Permissions]
            /1     [rep:Permissions]

Each per path store looks as follows

"1259237738" {
    "jcr:primaryType": "rep:PermissionStore",
    "rep:accessControlledPath": "/content",
    "0": {
        "jcr:primaryType": "rep:Permissions",
        "rep:isAllow": false,
        "rep:privileges": [32],
        "rep:ntNames": ["nt:unstructured", "oak:Unstructured"]
        ... /* additional restrictions as present in the entry */

Accessing the Permission Store

It is important to understand that the permission store is a implementation specific structure that is maintained by the system itself. For this reason access to the permission store is additionally restricted superimposing the regular permissions being enforced for regular repository items.

In detail this means that the permission store cannot be written by JCR nor Oak API method calls. It's immutability is enforced by a dedicated FailingValidator that prevents any modifications underneath /jcr:system/rep:permissionStore. Similarly read access is not allowed except for system principals. In order to discover and display access control related information API consumers should use the regular JCR and Jackrabbit permission and access control management API as listed in the introduction and in section Using the Access Control Management API.

Node Type Definitions

For the permission store the following built-in node types have been defined:

  - rep:accessControlledPath (STRING) protected IGNORE
  - rep:numPermissions (LONG) protected IGNORE
  - rep:modCount (LONG) protected IGNORE
  + * (rep:PermissionStore) = rep:PermissionStore protected IGNORE
  + * (rep:Permissions) = rep:Permissions protected IGNORE

  - * (UNDEFINED) protected IGNORE
  - * (UNDEFINED) protected multiple IGNORE
  + * (rep:Permissions) = rep:Permissions protected IGNORE

In addition Oak 1.0 defines a specific mixin type that allows to store the path(s) of the versionable node with each version history. Adding this mixing and updating the versionable path information is taken care of by a dedicated commit hook implementation (VersionablePathHook).

  - * (PATH) protected ABORT


The consistency of this content structure is asserted by a dedicated PermissionValidator. The corresponding errors are all of type Access with the following codes:

Code Message
0000 Generic access violation
0021 Version storage: Node creation without version history
0022 Version storage: Removal of intermediate node


Configuration Parameters

The default implementation supports the following configuration parameters:

Parameter Type Default Description
PARAM_PERMISSIONS_JR2 String - Enables backwards compatible behavior for the permissions listed in the parameter value containing the permission names separated by ‘,’. Supported values are: USER_MANAGEMENT,REMOVE_NODE
PARAM_READ_PATHS Set<String> paths to namespace, nodetype and privilege root nodes Set of paths that are always readable to all principals irrespective of other permissions defined at that path or inherited from other nodes.
PARAM_ADMINISTRATIVE_PRINCIPALS String[] - The names of the additional principals that have full permission and for which the permission evaluation can be skipped altogether.

Supported Values for PARAM_PERMISSIONS_JR2

  • REMOVE_NODE: if present, the permission evaluation will traverse down the hierarchy upon node removal. This config flag is a best effort approach but doesn't guarantee an identical behavior.
  • USER_MANAGEMENT: if set permissions for user related items will be evaluated the same way as regular JCR items irrespective of their protection status.

Differences to Jackrabbit 2.x

The omit-default-permission configuration option present with the Jackrabbit's AccessControlProvider implementations is no longer supported with Oak. Since there are no permissions installed by default this flag has become superfluous.

Known Limitations

Isolated Access Control Properties

As reported in OAK-10269 the default permission evaluation will not enforce jcr:readAccessControl privilege being granted for isolated access control properties that are not located below a node that marks an access control policy.

All access control properties shipped with Oak are associated with an access control policy node. The issue therefore only applies to custom models that

  • define isolated access control properties (through custom Context.definesProperty implementation)
  • rely on the default authorization model to enforce READ_ACCESS_CONTROL permission