[Owncloud] 403 Forbidden: a better approach urgently needed

Stefan Vollmar vollmar at nf.mpg.de
Tue Oct 29 16:52:17 UTC 2013


sharing files or directories is pretty easy using the browser interface in OwnCloud 5. However, we have had several cases where users meant to share something "completely" (i.e. including all write permissions) but had configured the default "read only" settings. My point here is not that it might be less than obvious how to configure all kinds of permissions for a share with the OwnCloud browser interface but rather that normal users will find it difficult to diagnose this as a problem with OwnCloud's current error messages.

Here is our most common case: Alice wants to share data with Bob and configures the share as "read only" (so far unintentionally, but this is not the point). Bob syncs the share to his local disk. The data now "belongs" to him (this is at least what we observe with the Mac client but I doubt that this is Mac specific) and he is free to modify it. Bob then complains to the admins about a strange "403" error in his logs: OwnCloud (correctly) refuses to incorporate his changes in Alice's share on the server.

I can understand where a "Problem: 403 Forbidden" message in the desktop sync clients log originated technically. But this is of little use to most users - they need to be told that they are currently trying to modify data in a directory where they only have read permissions, something they might be able to fix by talking to the person who shared that directory with them. It is also not helpful for the administrators who want to distinguish between a possible malfunction of the server (webserver or webdav problem) in contrast to something which might be (just) an organizational problem at user level.

So I suggest that a more helpful error message should be found for this kind of permission errors - maybe with a link to a more detailed explanation of the problem on the OwnCloud doc pages.

Many thanks in advance.
Warm regards,
Dr. Stefan Vollmar, Dipl.-Phys.
Head of IT group
Max-Planck-Institut für neurologische Forschung
Gleueler Str. 50, 50931 Köln, Germany
Tel.: +49-221-4726-213  FAX +49-221-4726-298
Tel.: +49-221-478-5713  Mobile: 0160-93874279
E-Mail: vollmar at nf.mpg.de   http://www.nf.mpg.de

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