What Magento's "Allow Symlinks" Setting Actually Does

Published: June 1, 2017


As a follow up to Peter O’Callaghan’s excellent post about SUPEE-9767 and symlinks, I wanted to quickly take a look at what, exactly, the “Allow Symlinks” setting in Magento does. Here we’ll dive into the core Magento code to get an understanding of the functionality…

If we search for dev/template/allow_symlink in the code base (using ripgrep) we’ll see it is only referenced in one place.

$ rg 'dev/template/allow_symlink' app 
39:    const XML_PATH_TEMPLATE_ALLOW_SYMLINK       = 'dev/template/allow_symlink';

Within that file we can see that constant is referenced in the_getAllowSymlinks method…

protected function _getAllowSymlinks()
    if (is_null($this->_allowSymlinks)) {
        $this->_allowSymlinks = Mage::getStoreConfigFlag(self::XML_PATH_TEMPLATE_ALLOW_SYMLINK);
    return $this->_allowSymlinks;

_getAllowSymlinks is called twice.

The first is in setScriptPath which as far as I can tell is completely unnecessary.

The next check is in fetchView. This is where the magic is.

Validating the View File Path

The code of interest in fetchView is as follows..

$includeFilePath = realpath($this->_viewDir . DS . $fileName);
if (strpos($includeFilePath, realpath($this->_viewDir)) === 0 || $this->_getAllowSymlinks()) {
    include $includeFilePath;
} else {
    Mage::log('Not valid template file:'.$fileName, Zend_Log::CRIT, null, null, true);

Notably it resolves the realpath to the template file and compares it against the realpath of the _viewDir (typically /path/to/webroot/app/design). If your file is symlink-ed from e.g. /path/to/webroot/.modman/module/template.phtml the check will fail. This is where the _getAllowSymlinks setting kicks in. It says that if that checks fails, just include the file, as long as the setting is set to yes.


I’m not going to make any of my own statements about this logic, but will say that I agree with the “What the Patch Should Have Done” section of Peter’s blog post.

Max Chadwick Hi, I'm Max!

I'm a software developer who mainly works in PHP, but loves dabbling in other languages like Go and Ruby. Technical topics that interest me are monitoring, security and performance. I'm also a stickler for good documentation and clear technical writing.

During the day I lead a team of developers and solve challenging technical problems at Something Digital where I mainly work with the Magento platform. I've also spoken at a number of events.

In my spare time I blog about tech, work on open source and participate in bug bounty programs.

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