11 March 2016

Shibboleth enables to use Single Sign-on at your web servers. It is widely used at our university. Thus I decided to write some notes about process of deploying this system at web server. In theory it is possible to use shibboleth with any web server, but only Apache web server is officially supported and this tutorial will focus on configuring of combination Shibboleth plus Apache web server.

Installation of Shibboleth

First of all you need to install it. Despite it is open-source project you will probably will not find RPM/DEB package in your favorite Linux distribution. Never mind, there are repositories for most Linux distribution. When you use CentOS 7 like me, you can download configuration of repository using:

wget -q

Then copy/move downloaded file to /etc/yum.repos.d/shibboleth.repo

When you use different version of CentOS/RedHat, then you can find repository file at:

Install shibboleth using:

yum -y install shibboleth

Then you can try to enable, start and print status of shibboleth daemon:

systemctl enable shibd
systemctl start shibd
systemctl status shibd

Configuration of Shibboleth (SP)

You need to have Apache web server configured and running. It should be available at FQDN address using HTTPS protocol. Yes, you need certificate for your server and you can’t test shibboleth configuration at virtual machine with private address (e.g. When your organization is member of CESNET, then you can use CESNET CA for generating certificate for your server.

Example of apache configuration file (include simple Shibboleth configuration):

    DocumentRoot /var/www/html/fqdn_address_tul_cz/
    ErrorLog /var/log/httpd/fqdn_address_tul_cz.error_log
    CustomLog /var/log/httpd/fqdn_address_tul_cz.access_log common
    Redirect permanent /

    DocumentRoot /var/www/html/fqdn_address_tul_cz/
    ErrorLog /var/log/httpd/fqdn_address_tul_cz.ssl.error_log
    CustomLog /var/log/httpd/fqdn_address_tul_cz.ssl.access_log common
    # Security
    SSLEngine on
    SSLProtocol all -SSLv2 -SSLv3
    SSLCertificateFile /etc/pki/tls/certs/fqdn_address_tul_cz-cert.pem
    SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/pki/tls/private/fqdn_address_tul_cz-key.pem
    SSLCACertificateFile /etc/pki/tls/certs/chain_TERENA_SSL_CA_2.pem
    SetEnvIf User-Agent ".*MSIE.*" \
        nokeepalive ssl-unclean-shutdown \
        downgrade-1.0 force-response-1.0
    # Secure directory with Shibboleth
    <Location /secure/>
        AuthType shibboleth
        ShibRequireSession On
        ShibRequestSetting applicationId default
        require valid-user

You also need to synchronize system time of server with some NTP server. You can use chronyd service for this purpose. At CentOS 7 it configured and running by default. Check it using:

systemctl status chronyd

The most complicated thing is editing of shibboleth configuration files. You will probably need to edit two files:

  • /etc/shibboleth/shibboleth2.xml (configuration of SP and connection to your IdP)
  • /etc/shibboleth/attribute-map.xml (configuration of mapping data from IdP to SP)

It is recommended to use template /etc/shibboleth/example-shibboleth2.xml. The content of this file depends on your IdP configuration and you should cooperate with administrator of your IdP server.

File attribute-map.xml should contain probably only following change:

<Attribute name="urn:mace:dir:attribute-def:mail" id="mail"/>
<Attribute name="urn:oid:0.9.2342.19200300.100.1.3" id="mail"/>

You can add more attributes to attribute-map.xml, but you will have to know your administrator o IdP to send you these attributes in response from IdP.

When you are ready with your shibboleth2.xml file and other config files (e.g. attribute-map.xml, template-TUL.xml), then create following directory and allow group shibd to write to this directory:

mkdir /etc/shibboleth/metadata/
chgrp shibd /etc/shibboleth/metadata/
chmod g+w /etc/shibboleth/metadata/

Shibboleth daemon will also need to read your certification file and private key. It is necessary to grant access to key file:

chmod o-r /etc/pki/tls/private/fqdn_address_tul_cz-key.pem
chgrp shibd /etc/pki/tls/private/fqdn_address_tul_cz-key.pem
chmod g+r /etc/pki/tls/private/fqdn_address_tul_cz-key.pem

, then you have to restart shibboleth daemon and apache server:

systemctl restart shibd
systemctl restart httpd

Then you should be able to get metadata from URL. Of course you can use other web client, then wget :-):


Content of this file send to your IdP administrator and he or she will recreate and sign batch of metadata. It will be available at address defines in shibboleth2.xml file:

<!-- Example of remotely supplied batch of signed metadata. -->
<MetadataProvider type="XML" validate="true"
      backingFilePath="/etc/shibboleth/metadata/tul-metadata.xml" reloadInterval="7200">

When your server is listed in, then your server is ready for authentication using Shibboleth.

Testing of Shibboleth (SP)

Optionally you want to check configuration of your SP, then you have to white-list IP of your computer in shibboleth2.xml:

<!-- Status reporting service. -->
<Handler type="Status" Location="/Status" acl=" ::1 2001:718:1c01:17:92b1:1cff:fe9a:449f"/>

Then you can reach status report at address:


Information about session is available at URL:




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