HTTP Cookies from VirtualBox are not sent back

VirtualBox is a great virualization solution. I use it to host my website and test it. It helps it me to set up the very same environment as I use in the server.  So I dont have to worry whether recent change in the web application will break it.  If you are a web developer and not using VirtualBox you should start right now.

Today I faced a weird problem. I could not log in to the web application in the vbox. But I could log in the live server. There was no difference between these two. One is physical server and other was virtual. After observing the http headers carefully I found that php session ids sent from virtual box was not preserved. But for live sever they get preserved. Session id is usually saved in cookie. Its the http clients responsibility to save the cookie and send it back along with successive request. I tested it in curl. it was not saving cooking. Google chrome was also not saving cookie. Only Firefox was saving.

At first I though its a problem of Google Chrome. I was almost submiting a bug to Chrome team. But then I tested in curl and it was not working. Two clients can not have same bug. So this should a problem of my host.  I compared all the headers sent by both live server and virtual box server side by side. And guess what I found?  The expires time for a cookie sent by virutal server was in past time. So this cookie was expired when generated.  It means my virtual box servers time was not in sync. I have to synchronize it with time server. The following command is enough for this.

ntpdate pool.ntp.org

After this everything was working smooth.  I always sync the time when i start the vbox server. If you boot your server time will be automatically synchronized. But if you save the state and later resume it you have to synchronise it manually. I never missed synchronizing. Today I forgot it. So I never think about it.  I checked last 30 revision from my svn repository to track down the problem.

My suggestion, Always synchronize the time of a vbox server if you resume it. Use the command above for this.

Now a new question arise. Why Firefox used a expired cookie?  I’ll verify it later.

Author: shiplu

The Lone Explorer.

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