running Neo4j 3.2 with APOC in Docker

Neo4j 3.2.0 was released last week at GraphConnect Europe. Among lots of cool new features, unfortunately it has one new “feature” making life of APOC users little bit harder, esp. if you run Neo4j from docker. 


Since 3.0 you can enrich Cypher with your own stored procedures. Those are written in Java (or any other JVM language) and get deployed to the /plugins folder. In 3.1 user defined functions were added, followed by aggregate functions in 3.2.

All of them use annotations like @Context GraphDatabaseService db to retrieve a reference to the database itself. For getting deeper into Neo4j’s machinery room one could have @Context GraphDatabaseAPI api allowing you full access. This full access can be abused to break out of the permissions system added in 3.1.

Therefore in 3.2. all procedures and functions run in a sandboxed environment disallowing potentially harmful dependencies like GraphDatabaseAPI from being injected. Using a config option<procedure names> you can deactivate the sandboxing for a given list of procedures. This config option also allows wildcards like *.

Couple of procedure/functions in APOC depend on using internal components and therefore need to be added as unrestricted procedures. This can be achieved by using apoc.* as value for this config option.

In a regular (aka non-docker) deployment you would just adopt conf/neo4j.conf with that setting.

And Docker?

When starting a Neo4j docker container you can dynamically amend config settings using -e. Everything starting with -e NEO4J_<configKey>=<convifgValue> will be amended to the config file. Be aware that dots need be rewritten with underscore. 

There is a gotcha: trying to use `-e NEO4J_dbms_security_procedures_unrestricted=apoc.*` does not work since the shell expands the wildcard * with all file in current directory. Even apoc.\* doesn’t help. I suspect docker internally tries another expansion. What I found finally working is using three backslashes: -e NEO4J_dbms_security_procedures_unrestricted=apoc.\\\*

My typical docker command for firing up a throw-away database to be used for demos and trainings typically looks like this:

docker run --rm -e NEO4J_AUTH=none \
   -e NEO4J_dbms_security_procedures_unrestricted=apoc.\\\* \
   -v $PWD/plugins:/plugins \
   -p 7474:7474  -p 7687:7687 neo4j:3.2.0-enterprise

Of course, the apoc jar file needs to reside in plugins folder of the directory where the command is fired from.