Enable HTTP Authentication on Dreamhost

Posted on 21 May 2010

If you are using Dreamhost, or other similar shared server host, and are having problems with HTTP authentication then this is something to try. In my case I had a RAILS application where I was positive I was sending the appropriate HTTP Basic Authorization header (from PHP) like so:

$urlNew = curl_init();
curl_setopt($urlNew, CURLOPT_USERPWD, $strAuth);

However the server would repeatedly reply with Not Authorized (401 error). It turned out that the Authorization header was not being passed from Apache to the FastCGI application. So where I had this rewrite rule in /public/.htaccess:

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ dispatch.fcgi [QSA,L]

I just changed it to this:

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ dispatch.fcgi [E=X-HTTP_AUTHORIZATION:%{HTTP:Authorization},QSA,L]

And all was well.