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Patrick Debois

Automating Sonatype Nexus with REST API

A lot of java developers make use of Maven to control dependency hell of external libraries. This pull out the libraries from internet repositories. From a configuration management point of view you want to control access to these external repositories. Sonatype Nexus is a tool that allows you to control this by:

  • proxying and/or caching internet packages/repositories
  • providing a repository for your own artefacts (no you don’t store jars and wars in your version control system like svn or git)

Download it (Manual, sorry)

There exist two version of Nexus (community and professional versions). The community edition is free for usage. The professional version works for a trial period of 30 days.

You can get it at http://www.sonatype.com/nexus-professional.html. Choose one of the package format and when you sign up, they will send you an email with a download link.

  • nexus-professional-webapp-1.8.0-bundle.tar.gz (31 MB)
  • nexus-professional-webapp-1.8.0-bundle.zip (31 MB)

Scripted Installation

$ mkdir nexus
$ cd nexus
$ NEXUS_HOME=`pwd`
$ wget http://www.sonatype.com/<your download link>/product-nexus-pro
$ mv product-nexus-pro nexus-professional-webapp-$NEXUS_VERSION-bundle.zip
$ unzip nexus-professional-webapp-$NEXUS_VERSION-bundle.zip

This create two directories

  • nexus-professional-web-app-$NEXUS_VERSION : this is where all the binaries are stored
  • sonatype-work : this is where all the actual instance information/configuration is stored

Initial configuration

The initial nexus configuration can be found in nexus-professional-webapp-$NEXUS_VERSION/conf/plexus.properties

Before we start it, we can change the configure like this:

  • the port nexus listens on: default is 8081, use application-port in plexus.properties to override
  • the IP address nexus listens on: defaults to , all interfaces . Use application-host in plexus.properties to override
  • the location where all the files are stored, the default is the sonatype-work directory. We can relocate it by setting nexus-work in the plexus.properties file or by using the environment variable PLEXUS_NEXUS_WORK.
$ cd $NEXUS_HOME/nexus-professional-webapp-$NEXUS_VERSION/conf
$ sed -i -e 's/^application-port=8081/application-port=$NEXUS_PORT/' plexus.properties

$ sed -i -e 's/^application-host=$NEXUS_IP/' plexus.properties

$ NEXUS_WORK=`pwd`/"sonatype-work"
$ echo "nexus-work=$NEXUS_WORK" >> plexus.properties

You can find more information at the documentation in the nexus book

Start the server

Now that we have configured the network setting we can start the server.

$ cd $NEXUS_HOME/nexus-professional-webapp-$NEXUS_VERSION
$ ./bin/jsw/macosx-universal-64/nexus start

About the REST support in Nexus

REST documentation for Nexus seems to be in a flux as indicated on the webpage https://docs.sonatype.com/display/NX/Nexus+Rest+API . This page lists the different REST commands including their GET, POST, PUT and DELETE options.

Simple GET requests to find out information

$ curl http://localhost:8081/nexus/service/local/status 
$ curl http://localhost:8081/nexus/service/local/repositories
    <appName>Sonatype Nexus Maven Repository Manager</appName>

Authenticated REST - GET requests

The default username & password is admin/admin123 . http://java.dzone.com/articles/working-custom-maven suggested that we can just use basic authentication. So to get a list of all the users we can do:

$ curl -X GET -u admin:admin123 http://localhost:8081/nexus/service/local/users

Authenticated REST - POST requests

The next thing I wanted to try is to change the default password of admin. I could have just update the security.xml in the sonatype-work/nexus/conf/ directory. But hey, the REST documentation mentioned it has an API for that (using /users_changepw) .

My first attempt was to send things in JSON format

cat <<EOF |curl -v -d @- -H "Accept: application/json" \
-H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST -u admin:admin123 \

But it kept complaining about Invalid XML format; weird as I was using JSON

<h3>Invalid XML, unable to parse using XStream</h3>
<p>You can get technical details
<a href="http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec10.html#sec10.4.1">here</a>.<br>
Please continue your visit at our <a href="/">home page</a></p>

From the error, I found that it used XStream library to marshal the XML requests into Java Object.

So my next attempt was to use XML instead of JSON:

cat <<THEEND |curl -v -d @- -H "Accept: application/xml" \
-H "Content-Type: application/xml" -X POST -u admin:admin123 \ http://localhost:8081/nexus/service/local/users_changepw

Still no luck, so the next step was to look in the nexus source code to see what was happening. I found some hints at :

It seems that xstream uses aliases to map the xml commands:

xstream.alias( "user-request", UserResourceRequest.class );
xstream.alias( "user-response", UserResourceResponse.class );
xstream.alias( "user-forgotpw", UserForgotPasswordRequest.class );
xstream.alias( "user-changepw", UserChangePasswordRequest.class );

So the XML has to include the correct tag first + data after it:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
$ cat <<EOF |curl -v -d @- -H "Accept: application/xml" \
-H "Content-Type: application/xml" -X POST -u admin:admin123 \
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

And finally this succeeded.

Final Thoughts

I really like the fact that you can script about anything on Nexus. The only things that I would suggest them to update is both the documentation. Also the http status codes are often not correct: I got 201 Created and nothing had happened. But then again, they mentioned things were under flux…