Installing Shibboleth SP on RedHat based Linux


There is already a significant amount of documentation on installing a Shibboleth SP notably:

This page draws on the above documents and gives the series of steps to install a Shibboleth SP and get it working in the Tuakiri federation.

This documentation now covers Shibboleth SP 3.x - though it does not significantly differ from 2.x for which this documentation was originally written.

This documentation has been tested on RHEL/CentOS 6 and 7, but should work on other RedHat-based systems as well.

We recommend installing the most recent Shibboleth SP version. Version 3.4.1 is the latest version as of June 2023. We recommend updating existing deployments to the most recent version to get fixes for known vulnerabilities - please see the list of security advisories.

  1. Introduction
  2. Prerequisites
    1. Firewall settings
    2. Time synchronization
    3. Dependencies
    4. SELinux
  3. Installation
  4. Federation Membership
    1. ECP support
    2. Configuration
  5. Special considerations
    1. HTTP/HTTPS access
    2. RedHat Enterprise Linux 6 and 7
    3. ECP
  6. Logging
  7. Protecting a resource
  8. Finishing up
  9. Testing


Firewall settings

  • inbound traffic:
    • webserver: port 80 and/or 443 are used by any browser-user
  • outbound:
    • Shibboleth daemon (shibd): has to be able to connect to every remote IdP in the federation on port 8443 for back-channel communication.

Time synchronization

The host where Shibboleth SP is running must have time synchronized.  We recommend using NTP for doing so - and synchronizing with your local NTP server.  An example of configuring NTP can be found in the IdP Install Manual.


Before starting to build and configure the Shibboleth Sevice Provider, be sure that the dependent packages (Apache, and the mod_ssl module for Apache) are installed:

yum install httpd mod_ssl


Configuring SELinux to permit httpd-shibd communication

These steps are required on an RHEL6/CentOS6 system with SELinux running in Enforcing mode - otherwise, mod_shib running inside Apache would not be able to communicate with shibd.

On RHEL7/CentOS7, the default SELinux policy already permits these actions and the following step is not required.

Click here to expand the instructions to configure SELinux to permit httpd-shibd communication on a CentOS-6 system

To configure SELinux to allow Apache (where mod_shib is loaded) to connect to shibd:

  • Create a policy type enforcement file defining a policy module mod_shib-to-shibd - create mod_shib-to-shibd.te with the following contents:

    module mod_shib-to-shibd 1.0;
    require {
            type var_run_t;
            type httpd_t;
            type initrc_t;
            class sock_file write;
            class unix_stream_socket connectto;
    #============= httpd_t ==============
    allow httpd_t initrc_t:unix_stream_socket connectto;
    allow httpd_t var_run_t:sock_file write;
  • Compile, package and load the module with:

    checkmodule -m -M -o mod_shib-to-shibd.mod mod_shib-to-shibd.te 
    semodule_package -o mod_shib-to-shibd.pp -m mod_shib-to-shibd.mod
    semodule -i mod_shib-to-shibd.pp 


Shibboleth SP is available for RedHat and derivative distributions via yum repositories maintained by the Shibboleth Project.  The repository configuration files are generated by the download site based on the target Linux distribution.  You can either download the .repo  file directly by passing in the distribution name as per the examples below, or you can download it via a browser from and then copy it to the target system.

Federation Membership

In order to register a Service Provider with the Federation Registry, it is highly recommended that you are able to log in with a user account authorised by an IdP or Virtual Home already registered with the federation.

It is possible to add an SP to the federation without an account but to become the administrator of that SP or later review the SP registration entry or to make any changes (in the textual description or the technical details - endpoint URLs, certificates, attributes required, etc), you will need an account.

Navigate to the Tuakiri federation management site (or, for Tuakiri-TEST federation,

If you do not have an account with an IdP registered in the federation and you do not have an account with the Tuakiri VHO, start the SP registration (without logging in), by clicking the Create Service Provider link in the blue menu bar.

Otherwise, click Login and login using your IdP. Start the registration by clicking Subscribers > Service Providers > Create.

The registration form first displays a check-list of required information.  Please check that you have all the information the check-list asks for readily available, otherwise the registration form may time out while you gather missing information.

Please note that on the registration form, you’ll be asked to select the organization you are registering the SP under.  If you have not registered your organization into Tuakiri (or Tuakiri-TEST) yet, please complete that process first, following our instructions for Creating an Organization in the Tuakiri Federation.

  1. If you are filling this form without having logged in, you’ll have to enter your details: Given Name, Surname and Email (otherwise, these are prefilled). (Do not use a shared mailbox, alias or mailing list when entering an email address because the confirmation email contains a single-use link and may cause some confusion should more than one person attempt to use it.)

  2. Enter the information that describes the Service Provider being registered:
    • Select your Organization; if the organization you wish to host the Service Provider under does not exist, follow this procedure to create one. (Required)
    • Enter a Display Name and Description for your Service Provider. (Required)
    • Enter a Service URL for accessing your Service Provider in the form []( The service URL is typically the base URL for accessing the Service Provider. (Required)
    • Optionally enter a URL in the Service Logo URL to a image or logo representing the service the Service Provider is authenticating. (Optional)
  3. Enter the basic SAML configuration:
    • Choose the Shibboleth SP version that is installed on the Service Provider.
    • Enter the Service Provider’s base URL for the Host, without a trailing slash, just as **[](**. The Federation Registry will automatically create all of the SAML2 endpoints from this base URL.  You can skip over the Advanced SAML2 Registration section.
    • Alternatively, if your deployment does not fit the basic SAML configurator (either your implementation is not among the pre-configured ones, or you use custom endpoint URLs),  please fill in the entityID and the endpoint URLs in the Advanced SAML2 Registration section.
  4. Copy and paste in the back-channel certificate(s) generated when installing the Shibboleth SP software.

    For Shibboleth SP 2.x, the certificate is usually located in /etc/shibboleth/sp-cert.pem.

    Starting with Shibboleth 3.0, the two separate certificates are generated for encryption and signing.  These certificates are stored as /etc/shibboleth/sp-signing-cert.pem and /etc/shibboleth/sp-encrypt-cert.pem

    As of October 2018, Federation Registry supports including separate signing and encryption certificates on the registration form.  If you are registering an SP that has a single certificate used for both signing and encryption, copy the same certificate into both fields.  If your SP does not support encryption, leave the encryption certificate field blank (but a signing certificate is required).

    When pasting the certificate into the form, please take care that no line breaks, spaces or other characters are introduced during the cut-paste process.

    • Please note that it is highly recommended that the CN in the certificate matches the hostname the service provider is being registered under. If this is an alias and your system thinks of itself with a different hostname, we recommend you instead generate a new certificate with the correct hostname: run the following, substituting the externally visible hostname for

      cd /etc/shibboleth
      # for a Shibboleth 2.x system:
      ./ -f -u shibd -g shibd -y 20 -h -e
      # or for a Shibboleth 3.x system:
      ./ -f -n sp-signing -u shibd -g shibd -y 20 -h -e
      ./ -f -n sp-encrypt -u shibd -g shibd -y 20 -h -e 
  5. Select the attributes Requested and mark which are Required. For each attribute requested give a good explanation for why the attribute is requested. This information will later be displayed to users as justification for why the information is being released.

    Persistent NameID

    Please note that with the IdPv3 upgrade, Tuakiri is moving from passing Persistent NameIDs in the eduPersonTargetedID attribute to passing them as a Persistent SAML2 NameID.  When registering a new SP requesting a persistent NameID, please request both the eduPersonTargetedID attribute (for interoperability with existing V2 IdPs), as well as NameID of Persistent format.  You will be able to add the SAML 2.0 Persistent NameIDFormat after your SP registration is approved - or please get in touch with the Tuakiri Support.

    schac attributes

    Please note that as of 2.6.0, Shibboleth SP includes attributes from the schac schema in the default configuration.  The names used for the attributes there are slightly different from what has been used in the attribute-map.xml file provided by Tuakiri for use with earlier versions of Shibboleth SP.  For compatibility with 2.6.0, we have adjusted the names in attribute-map.xml to match the names used by the 2.6.0 default configuration.

    homeOrganization is becoming schacHomeOrganization
    homeOrganizationType is becoming schacHomeOrganizationType

    eduPersonEntitlement attribute

    Please note: if intending to request the eduPersonEntitlement attribute, you cannot add the attribute to the list of requested attributes on the registration page; you’ll have to add it separately later.

    Also, because of the nature of this attribute, you also have to include a specific requested value (or a regular expression matching a set of values), but an eduPersonEntitlement attribute request without specific values is not considered complete and will be ignored by the Federation Registry.

  6. Click Submit and wait for a confirmation email.

Please note: Once the registration is approved, the Federation Registry will send an email with an invite code to claim administrative rights over the SP being registered.

It is important to follow the instructions in the email to get the administrative privileges over the SP.  These privileges are required for making any subsequent changes to the SP registration.

Note that the invite code can only be used once - but once the original recipient has administrative privileges, these can be used to grant the same administrative privileges to additional users as required.

ECP support

If your SP should support ECP (access via non-browser clients), then also register support for ECP:

  • After your SP registration is complete, log into the Federation Registry again (in the same way as above)
  • Open the entry for your SP (under Subscribers -> Service Providers or directly from the Dashboard)
  • Under EndPoints -> Assertion Consumer Service, add a new Endpoint:
    • Select Binding: urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:bindings:PAOS
    • Enter Location: []( (substituting with your SP hostname)
    • Enter Index: 4 (value 4 matches the value in the Shibboleth SP internal metadata in the default configuration)
  • Remember to also configure support for ECP in your /etc/shibboleth/shibboleth2.xml file.


Edit /etc/shibboleth/shibboleth2.xml:

  • Replace all instances of with your hostname.

  • In the <Sessions> element:
    • Make session handler use SSL: set handlerSSL="true"
      Recommended: go even further and in the Sessions element, change the handlerURL from a relative one ("/Shibboleth.sso" to an absolute one - handlerURL="[](". In the URL, use the hostname used in the endpoint URLs registered in the Federation Registry. This makes sure the server is always issuing correct endpoint URLs in outgoing requests, even when users refer to the server with alternative names. This is in particular important when there are multiple hostnames resolving to your server (such as one prefixed with “www.” and one without).
    • We also strongly recommend to configure the SP to use secure  cookies that would only be sent over an encrypted (https) connection.  Unless you are also using plain HTTP to access your application in authenticated mode (which is dangerous - risk of cookie theft / session hijacking), change the cookieProps  setting to use secure cookies:

    • IMPORTANT: To prevent your server becoming an Open Redirect, restrict the URLs acceptable as redirect targets to the same base as your server by adding the following to the Sessions element (if not already present - included in new configuration files from Shibboleth SP 3.1 onwards).  For further details, see the Sessions element documentation.

    • Configure Session Initiator: locate the <SSO>element and:
      • Remove reference to default - delete the entityID attribute
      • Configure the Discovery Service URL in the discoveryURL attribute:

      • or, alternatively, if connecting to the Tuakiri TEST federation (Staging Environment), use:

  • In AttributeExtractor, set reloadChanges="true"

  • Shibboleth 2.x only: restrict cipherSuites:

    Click here to expand...

    In earlier versions (Shibboleth SP 2.x), we were recommending to configure the TLS protocols and cipher-suites acceptable on the back-channel - the default settings were overly permissive and insecure.

    Shibboleth 3.x now sets a new default, identical to our recommendation in terms of actual ciphers permitted.  So, this step is no longer needed on Shibboleth SP 3.x

    On Shibboleth SP 2.x, add the following XML attribute to the <ApplicationDefaults> element:


    This sets the protocols to TLSv1.2 only (banning SSLv2, SSLv3, TLSv1.0, TLSv1.1) and blocks all ciphers deemed insecure (as of October 2017).

  • Optionally, customize settings in the <Errors> element.  These settings configure the error handling pages that would be rendered to the users should an error occur.  At the very least, we recommend changing the supportContact attribute from root@localhost to your support service email address.  Documentation for advanced configuration of error handling is available at the Shibboleth SP Errors documentation page.

  • Download the metadata signing certificate for the federation metadata into /etc/shibboleth:
    • For Tuakiri, run:

      wget -O /etc/shibboleth/tuakiri-metadata-cert.pem
    • or for Tuakiri-TEST, run:

      wget -O /etc/shibboleth/tuakiri-test-metadata-cert.pem
  • Load the federation metadata: add the following (or equivalent) section into /etc/shibboleth/shibboleth2.xml just above the sample (commented-out) MetadataProviderelement.
    • For Tuakiri add:

              <MetadataProvider type="XML" url=""
                      backingFilePath="metadata.tuakiri.xml" reloadInterval="7200" validate="true">
                  <MetadataFilter type="RequireValidUntil" maxValidityInterval="2419200"/>
                  <MetadataFilter type="Signature" certificate="tuakiri-metadata-cert.pem" verifyBackup="false"/>
    • For Tuakiri-TEST, add instead:

              <MetadataProvider type="XML" url=""
                      backingFilePath="metadata.tuakiri-test.xml" reloadInterval="7200" validate="true">
                  <MetadataFilter type="RequireValidUntil" maxValidityInterval="2419200"/>
                  <MetadataFilter type="Signature" certificate="tuakiri-test-metadata-cert.pem" verifyBackup="false"/>
  • The Shibboleth SP installation needs to be configured to map attributes received from the IdP - in /etc/shibboleth/attribute-map.xml. Change the attribute mapping definition by either editing the file and uncommenting attributes to be accepted, or replace the file with the recommended Tuakiri attribute-map.xml file mapping all Tuakiri attributes (and optionally comment out those attributes not used by your SP). This can be conveniently done with

    wget -O /etc/shibboleth/attribute-map.xml

    In addition to mapping received attributes to local names (and thus accepting them), it is also possible to configure filtering rules in attribute-policy.xml.

    In most cases, this can be left as-is (the default rules do the filtering applicable to Tuakiri attributes), but additional rules can be added here.

    For further information, please see

  • With earlier versions of Shibboleth SP (2.x), it was necessary to work around issues with rotation of logs generated by the mod_shib  module running inside Apache.  In Shibboleth SP 3.x, this module logs via syslog and this is no longer an issue.  If deploying a 2.x installation or explicitly logging to file, expand this section (otherwise archived for historical purposes only).

    Click here to expand...

    Workaround : move the log rotation from the module to logrotate.

    • Otherwise, SELinux rules would not permit the log rotation (by design Apache is allowed to only append to logs, but cannot remove them – incl. renaming).
    • And there is also a race condition in the log rotation.  This has been reported upstream as SSPCPP-757 - and we recommend to move log rotation out of mod_shib to logrotate.

    • Edit /etc/shibboleth/native.logger  and:
      • replace RollingFileAppender with FileAppender
      • comment out log rotation-specific options: maxFileSize and maxBackupIndex
      • or just replace the file with our copy with exactly these customizations: native.logger
    • Install a new file into /etc/logrotate.d/shibboleth-www to rotate these files via logrotate (and reload Apache post-rotate): shibboleth-www containing:

      /var/log/shibboleth-www/*.log {
          rotate 10
          size 1000000
              /sbin/service httpd reload > /dev/null 2>/dev/null || true
    • These can be both installed with:

      wget -O /etc/shibboleth/native.logger
      wget -O /etc/logrotate.d/shibboleth-www

Special considerations


Normally, the Shibboleth endpoints are accessible only via HTTPS (also configured by the handlerSSL="true" setting above). Applications that make use of (plain) http for access to content using Shibboleth protection can run into issues if the client is using inconsistent proxy connection settings for http and https.

By default Shibboleth SP checks that the IP address stays the same - but in this case, the IP address for the http and https traffic appears to be different. The safety mechanisms then suspect the session has been hijacked and terminate the session. This can lead to the SP keeping the user in an infinite loop.

For such applications we recommend setting consistentAddress="false" on the <Sessions> element:


RedHat Enterprise Linux 6 and 7

Please note that RedHat Enterprise Linux 6 and 7 (and so also CentOS 6 and 7) come with CURL built against NSS, not OpenSSL. Using this version of the CURL libraries would break the SOAP calls Shibboleth SP is making to the IdP port 8443 (back-channel communication) for artifact resolution and attribute queries.  While initial approach taken by the Shibboleth SP project was to provide CURL version linked against OpenSSL that would “upgrade” (replace) the one that comes with the OS, this was later seen as having undesired consequences and the new approach is to instead provide “look-aside” version of the library that installs into /opt.

These libraries install automatically as dependencies of the main shibboleth package and no action is needed by the deployer.

Further information is available in the upstream documentation at


If your SP should support ECP (access via non-browser clients), then also:

  1. Edit the <SSO> element in /etc/shibboleth/shibboleth2.xml and add an ECP="true"attribute:

    <SSO ECP="true" ....>
  2. Add support for ECP in the metadata registered in the federation (as instructed above).


Shibboleth SP has two separate components (the shibd daemon and the mod_shib module running inside Apache), and they also have separate logging configuration and destinations.

  • The shibd daemon logs primarily into /var/log/shibboleth/shibd.log (with transaction details in /var/log/shibboleth/transaction.log)
    • Logging configuration is in /etc/shibboleth/shibd.logger
    • Log files should be owned by shibd (the user account shibd daemon runs under)
  • The mod_shib Apache module logs into syslog (as facility LOCAL0 ).
    • Logging configuration in /etc/shibboleth/native.logger
    • In Shibboleth SP 2.x, mid_shib was logging into /var/log/shibboleth-www/native.log and /var/log/shibboleth-www/native-warn.logLog (and these files were owned by apache, the user account Apache httpd runs under)

Protecting a resource

You can protect a resource with Shibboleth SP by adding the following directives into your Apache configuration. By default, a sample configuration snippet protecting the /secure URL on the server is included in /etc/httpd/conf.d/shib.conf:

<Location /secure>
  AuthType shibboleth
  ShibRequestSetting requireSession 1
  require shib-session

You can add additional access control directives either to this file or anywhere else in the Apache configuration, as it fits with your application.

Another frequently used technique is lazy sessions - access is granted also for unauthenticated users, but if a session exists, the attributes in the session are passed through to the application - and the application can then make access control decision (and initiate a login where needed).

Applying lazy sessions (making the Shibboleth sessions visible) to the whole application can be achieved e.g. with:

<Location />
  AuthType shibboleth
  ShibRequestSetting requireSession 0
  require shibboleth

Apache 2.2 deployments

Because the way authentication modules (like mod_shib) link into Apache has changed substantially between Apache 2.2 and 2.4, the directives to protect a resource with mod_shib has changed as well.

The module provides the ShibCompatWith24 directive to emulate the Apache 2.4 behavior on Apache 2.2 and we recommend using this directive on new deployments (if they are with Apache 2.2) - the configuration will otherwise be ready for Apache 2.4.

However, this directive is only available with Apache 2.2 and is not available on Apache 2.4, so only use it on actual Apache 2.2 deployments.

Click here to expand Apache 2.2-specific code snippets.

Protecting a resource with eager protection in Apache 2.2:

<Location /secure>
  AuthType shibboleth
  ShibCompatWith24 On
  ShibRequestSetting requireSession 1
  require shib-session

Protecting a resource with lazy sessions in Apache 2.2:

<Location />
  AuthType shibboleth
  ShibCompatWith24 On
  ShibRequestSetting requireSession 0
  require shibboleth

Note that in this case, to actually trigger a login, the application would have to redirect the user to a Session Initiator - a default one is located at /Shibboleth.sso/Login  (see the links below for more details).
You are welcome to use the Tuakiri logo with the Login link - please visit our integration documentation page to get a suitably sized Tuakiri logo.

For further information, please see the following pages in the Shibboleth SP documentation:

Finishing up

  • Start up Apache and shibd:

     service httpd start
     service shibd start
     chkconfig httpd on
     chkconfig shibd on

    On RHEL7/CentOS7 using systemd, the commands should properly be:

    systemctl enable httpd shibd
    systemctl start httpd shibd

    (but the legacy syntax invoking service and chkconfig still works and is rerouted to systemctl)


  1. Place a script inside the protected directory. PHP example script such as the following is good enough:

    <?php print_r($_SERVER) ?>
  2. Access the protected directory/script (http://your.server/secure) from your browser, this should trigger a complete SSO cycle where you can authenticate on your IdP
  3. Upon successful authentication, the page should display all received attributes. Make sure you have non empty Shib-Application-ID amongst other attributes (if your IdP release them).
  4. Check your shibd.log to see if there are attributes received or errors encountered.