Common problem - you need to run up a service (e.g. an HTTP server) on a port <= 1024 (e.g. port 80). You don’t want to run it as root, because you’re not that stupid. You don’t want to run some quite complicated other thing you might misconfigure and whose features you don’t actually need (I’m looking at you, Apache HTTPD) as a proxy just to achieve this end. What to do?

Well, you can run up your service on an unrestricted port like 8080 as a user with restricted privileges, and then do NAT via IP Tables to redirect TCP traffic from a restricted port (e.g. 80) to that unrestricted one:

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-ports 8080

However, this isn’t quite complete - if you are on the host itself this rule will not apply, so you still can’t get to the service on the restricted port. To work around this I have so far found you need to add an OUTPUT rule. As it’s an OUTPUT rule it must be restricted to only the IP address of the local box - otherwise you’ll find requests apparently to other servers are being re-routed to localhost on the unrestricted port. For the loopback adapter this looks like this:

iptables -t nat -A OUTPUT -p tcp -d --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-ports 8080

If you want a comprehensive solution, you’ll have to add the same rule over and over for the IP addresses of all network adapters on the host. This can be done in Puppet as so:

define localiptablesredirect($to_port) {
  $local_ip_and_from_port = split($name,'-')
  $local_ip = $local_ip_and_from_port[0]
  $from_port = $local_ip_and_from_port[1]

  exec { "iptables-redirect-localport-${local_ip}-${from_port}":
    command => "/sbin/iptables -t nat -A OUTPUT -p tcp -d ${local_ip} --dport ${from_port} -j REDIRECT --to-ports ${to_port}; service iptables save",
    user    => 'root',
    group   => 'root',
    unless  => "/sbin/iptables -S -t nat | grep -q 'OUTPUT -d ${local_ip}/32 -p tcp -m tcp --dport ${from_port} -j REDIRECT --to-ports ${to_port}' 2>/dev/null"

define iptablesredirect($to_port) {
  $from_port = $name
  if ($from_port != $to_port) {
    exec { "iptables-redirect-port-${from_port}":
      command => "/sbin/iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp --dport ${from_port} -j REDIRECT --to-ports ${to_port}; service iptables save",
      user    => 'root',
      group   => 'root',
      unless  => "/sbin/iptables -S -t nat | grep -q 'PREROUTING -p tcp -m tcp --dport ${from_port} -j REDIRECT --to-ports ${to_port}' 2>/dev/null";

    $interface_names = split($::interfaces, ',')
    $interface_addresses_and_incoming_port = inline_template('<%={ |interface_name| scope.lookupvar("ipaddress_#{interface_name}") }.reject{ |ipaddress| ipaddress == :undefined }{ |ipaddress| "#{ipaddress}-#{incoming_port}" }.join(" ") %>')
    $interface_addr_and_incoming_port_array = split($interface_addresses_and_incoming_port, ' ')

    localiptablesredirect { $interface_addr_and_incoming_port_array:
      to_port    => $to_port

iptablesredirect { '80':
  to_port    => 8080