Shibboleth IdP Installer

The Shibboleth IdP Installer automates the install of version 3 for the Shibboleth IdP on a dedicated Redhat or CentOS 7 server.

The installer adheres to each step outlined in the offical Installation Guide.

The key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL” in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

Once you’re ready to get started please continue to the requirements checklist.

Requirements Checklist

You MUST NOT continue to installation until you’ve worked through the checklists below. Environmental preperation is critical to a successful outcome.

Required Checklist

  1. A dedicated CentOS 7 or Redhat 7 server (virtual or physical), with the following minimum specifications:

    1. 2 CPU
    2. 2GB RAM
    3. 10GB+ partition for OS

This server MUST NOT be used for any other purpose in the future.

Additional requirements for CentOS 7 servers

As root install EPEL with the following command

        $> yum -y install epel-release

Additional requirements for Redhat 7 servers

Redhat systems also require EPEL in order to continue and the above is one option you MAY use to achieve this.

In some commercial environments you may need to have the server enabled for these packages via Satellite.

In this case please speak to your system administrators and have this configured before continuing.

  1. You MUST have SSH access to the server
  2. You MUST be able to execute commands as root on the system without limitation
  3. The server MUST be routable from the public internet with a static IP. Often this means configuring the IP on a local network interface directly but advanced environments may handle this differently.
  4. The static IP MUST have a publicly resolvable DNS entry. Typically of the form
  5. The server MUST be able to communicate with the wider internet without blockage due to firewall rules. All publicly routable servers MUST be accessible for:

    Port Purpose
    80 Outbound HTTP connections
    443 Outbound HTTPS connections

    Each of the following commands MUST succeed when run on your server:

    1. curl
    2. curl
  6. The server MUST be accessible from the wider internet without blockage due to firewall rules for:

    Port Purpose
    80 Inbound HTTP connections used within SAML flows
    443 Inbound HTTPS connections used within SAML flows
    8443 Backchannel, client verified TLS connections, used within SAML flows
  7. Environmental data for your IdP

    1. A determination of the AAF federation you wish to register your IdP within, being test or production. AAF Support can assist you in determining this
    2. Organisation Name
    3. Organization base domain e.g.

Optional Checklist

  1. An account which can bind to and run queries against your corporate directory service. You’ll require the following pieces of information from your directory administrator:

    1. IP Address / DNS entry for your LDAP server and connection port
    2. Base DN for user objects within your directory
    3. The Bind DN of the account you wish to connect to the directory with
    4. The password for the above account
    5. An LDAP filter attribute, often uid

If you:

  • Don’t have LDAP details available;
  • Wish to use TLS connections; or
  • Have an advanced deployment scenario for your directory infrastructure.

You’ll need to undertake further customisation during the installation process when prompted. Each of these scenarios are outside of the installers scope.


You MUST have completed the requirements checklist before continuing installation. Environmental preperation is critical to a successful outcome.

Actions undertaken during installation

The installation process will:

  • Perform a yum -y update (system wide package upgrade). Please note that the installer uses yum for the installation of all system components (except Jetty and Shibboleth IdP).

  • Install all required dependencies via yum (git, ansible, mariadb, apache etc). With the previous step in mind, bootstrap will always use the latest versions of these packages.

  • Create self signed keys for Apache. These are for initial testing of the IdP and are replaced when further customising the Shibboleth IdP.

  • Install Apache.

  • Install Jetty with Shibboleth IdP. Jetty runs on port 8080 and creates the Shibboleth IdP web app context /idp. Apache configuration serves this on port 443through a reverse proxy. Jetty also listens on port 8443 to support ECP.

  • Install a MariaDB instance. A database is created (name: idp_db, user: idp_admin) with these schemas populated.

  • Install NTP for time syncronisation.

  • Opens local firewall ports 80, 443 and 8443.

Event logging

The installer provides a detailed set of information indicating the steps it has undertaken on your server. You MAY disregard this output if the process completes successfully.

For future review all installer output is logged to:


Running the installer

The following commands MUST be executed as the root user. Start the process from /root.

  1. Run the command:

    master/ > && chmod u+x
  2. Edit the bootstrap file:

    • You MUST review, configure and uncomment each field listed in the “MANDATORY SECTION
    • If you have LDAP details you SHOULD also configure the “OPTIONAL SECTION”.

      You MAY further configure LDAP connection details, including TLS if required, after bootstrap has completed.

  3. Run the command:


    The bootstrap process will now configure your server to operate as a Shibboleth IdP.

Errors during installation

If an error occurs, the logs prior to installer termination MUST be reviewed to understand the underpinning cause.

Generally the installer SHOULD be executed once.

After the initial execution you’ll recieve an error if you try to run again.

You MUST NOT re-run if the installation process completed but you made a simple mistake. e.g.

  • Mistyped config in the MANDATORY SECTION
  • Mistyped config in the OPTIONAL SECTION

If you force to run again once initial installation has completed the action MAY be destructive.

In this scenario you should continue with federation registration as documented below and then make any configuration changes necessary as documented within the customisation stage following completion of the installation stage as documented below.

Reasons to re-run the installer

You MUST NOT re-run, unless:

  • The script indicates you did not provide all required configuration options before your initial execution
  • The underpinning Ansible based installation process fails during installation

If the latter scenario occurs you MUST correct the root cause of the error before attempting to continue.

Allowing the installer to run again

If you’ve met all conditions run the installer again:

rm /root/.lock-idp-bootstrap && ./

The bootstrap process will now start over and attempt to configure your server to operate as a Shibboleth IdP.

Registration with the federation

Once completed the bootstrap process will output information specific to your installation which you will use to register your Shibboleth IdP with the federation. Please follow the onscreen guide in order to complete the registration process.

After completing the registration process, you will receive an email from the federation indicating your Shibboleth IdP is pending approval by the AAF. The approval process can take upto 24 hours. For further assistance please contact

Installation finalisation steps

1. Configure LDAP connectivity

If you provided basic LDAP details to the bootstrap process you MAY skip this section.

If you:

  • Wish to use TLS connections; or
  • Have an advanced deployment scenario for your directory infrastructure:

Undertake the following steps:

  1. Locate local configuration files

    You MUST make any changes you require below within:


    and NOT


    which is the default path documented in external resources. All specific config file names, e.g., remain the same.

  2. Configure LDAP options

    Please see the Shibboleth IdP LDAP documentation for a description of all available LDAP options.

    Undertake configuration changes or certificate additions to the server as necessary.

  3. Apply Changes

    After changing LDAP configuration you MUST run the command:


    This will merge the changes as required and reload the Shibboleth IdP to apply them.

2. Receive Shibboleth IdP Approval

Following approval by the AAF you’ll receive a second email.

Please wait for at least 4 hours after receiving this email, so backend processes and data sync is definetly completed, before undertaking the instructions it contains to gain administrative rights over your Shibboleth IdP within AAF management tools.

3. Add Backchannel certificates

The final installation step involves providing your backchannel certificates to the AAF management tool, Federation Registry.

Access your Shibboleth IdP record within Federation Registry and navigate to SAML -> Certificates

  1. Add the contents of /opt/shibboleth/shibboleth-idp/current/credentials/idp-backchannel.crt as a certificate for signing.
  2. Add the contents of /opt/shibboleth/shibboleth-idp/current/credentials/idp-encryption.crt as an encryption certificate.


Ensuring your Shibboleth IdP is functioning

Before undertaking any customisation of your Shibboleth IdP and after each change you make to customise your Shibboleth IdP we recommend testing to ensure everything is functioning correctly.

To facilitate this the AAF provides a useful tool, called AAF Attribute Validator. This tool will ensure that your IdP is working correctly with backend security processes and that it is capable of providing the attributes your users may be asked to present when accessing federated services.

A ‘private’ browser session as the best tool for working with AAF Attribute Validator. Different browsers will have different names for ‘private’ mode, e.g. Incognito Mode.

To access AAF Attribute Validator:

Follow the flow to login, ensuring you choose your new Shibboleth IdP when promoted at the Discovery Service.

How the Shibboleth IdP installer manages your configuration

IMPORTANT: All modifiable configuration is housed in the directory:


The structure of your configuration directory will look like the following:

├── apache
│   ├── idp.conf
│   ├── intermediate.crt
│   ├── server.crt
│   └── server.key
└── idp
    ├── branding
    │   ├── css
    │   │   ├── consent.css
    │   │   └── main.css
    │   ├──
    │   ├── images
    │   │   ├── logo-mobile.png
    │   │   └── logo.png
    │   └── views
    │       ├── attribute-release.vm
    │       ├── error.vm
    │       ├── expiring-password.vm
    │       ├── login-error.vm
    │       ├── login.vm
    │       ├── logout-response.vm
    │       ├── logout.vm
    │       └── resolvertest.vm
    ├── conf
    │   ├── attribute-filter.xml
    │   ├── attribute-resolver.xml
    │   ├── global.xml
    │   ├──
    │   ├──
    │   ├── metadata-based-attribute-filter.xml
    │   ├── metadata-providers.xml
    │   └── services.xml
    ├── logging
    │   └── logback.xml
    └── sys
        └── jetty-profile

If you make configuration changes directly within /opt/shibboleth/shibboleth-idp, /etc/httpd or elsewhere your installation will become unsupported and you may have difficulties when upgrading.

Customising your Shibboleth IdP

From the configuration directory you can make changes to customise the following areas as appropriate for your environment:

  • Apache certificates and config
  • IdP configuration (xml / properties)
  • IdP branding (velocity templates, css and images).

Customisations recommended by the AAF for operating a production Shibboleth IdP

Here are some of the areas you should customise when preparing a Shibboleth IdP for a production environment:

  • The Shibboleth IdP MUST use valid certificates, verified by a widely trusted CA, for your Apache webserver

    The use of EV certificates is RECOMMENDED

  • Ensure all attributes on the AAF Attribute Validator are shown with green ticks to indicate successful release
  • Branding should be consistent with your organisations corporate branding, images, logos, colour schems, etc
  • Corporate links, eg Accessibility, Copyright, Disclaimers, Privacy, etc should be consistent with the corporate site
  • The name known by your users for their username / password should be consistently used on the IdP login page
  • Links to a corporate terms of use or similar page
  • Link provided to recover lost password, manage passwords or other credentials, etc
  • Display of the AAF logo and links to the AAF information such as the service catalogue
  • Guidance for users about effectively logging out, particularly when using publicly accessible computers
  • Minimise and preferably eliminate the use of technical jargon
  • Showing the name of the service the user is logging into, possibly the logo as well if it is available

Updating the Shibboleth IdP with customisations

Actions undertaken during an update

The update process will perform the following:

  1. Update underlying operating system packages to ensure any security issues are addressed
  2. Apply any configuration changes made within the assets directory for: * Shibboleth IdP * Jetty * Apache HTTPD
  3. RESTART all dependant processes.

You MUST have a tested rollback plan in place before running an update to ensure any unanticipated changes can be reversed.

Executing the update

To update your Shibboleth IdP run the command:


Upgrading your Shibboleth IdP version

In order to upgrade your versions to the latest vetted releases you need to add the -u switch to the command:

/opt/shibboleth-idp-installer/repository/ -u

By supplying the -u switch the following occurs in addition to the normal update process:

  1. Upgrade to the most recent version of the installer:
  2. Upgrade, if necessary, to the most recently vetted versions of:
    • Shibboleth IdP
    • Jetty


Following completion of all the previous stages the Shibboleth IdP enters an operational phase.

Administrators should be aware of the following concerns for the ongoing operation of the Shibboleth IdP.

Common commands

# Apply configuration changes to the IdP

# Restart the IdP (Jetty)
systemctl restart idp

# Restart apache
systemctl restart httpd

# Restart ntpd
systemctl restart ntpd

# Restart firewall
systemctl restart firewalld

Filesystem structure

The stucture of the filesystem after a successful install is as follows:

├── jetty
│   └── jetty-distribution-9.2.10.v20150310     # Jetty installation
├── keypairs                                    # TLS assets used for Apache
│   ├── intermediate.crt
│   ├── server.crt
│   └── server.key
├── shibboleth
│   ├── jetty                                   # Jetty base for Shib IdP
│   ├── shibboleth-idp
│   │   └── shibboleth-idp-3.1.1                # Shibboleth instance
│   └── shibboleth-src                          # Shib Installation files
│       ├── install-3.1.1.exp
│       ├──
│       └── shibboleth-identity-provider-3.1.1
└── shibboleth-idp-installer
    ├── repository                              # Holds configuration and source code
    └── build                                   # Working directory for installer

└── log
    ├── shibboleth                              # Shibboleth specific logs
    ├── httpd                                   # Apache logs
    └── jetty                                   # Jetty base logs

Backup / Resilience

The IdP installer provides no backup or monitoring of the platform.

Deployers SHOULD:

  • Undertake regular backups of:
    • The entire VM
    • The local mariadb instance
    • Key directories, including, but not limited to:
      1. /opt/shibboleth-idp-installer
      2. /opt/keypairs
      3. /opt/shibboleth
      4. /etc/httpd
  • Monitor service availability
  • Monitor platform concerns, such as disk space and load averages