An identity provider is a trusted provider that provides single sign-on for users to access other websites. A service provider is a website that hosts applications and grants access only to identified users with proper credentials. SAML is maintained by the [OASIS Security Services Technical Committee](https://www.oasis-open.org/ committees/security/). Liferay Portal 6.1 EE and later versions support SAML 2.0 integration via the Liferay SAML 2.0 Provider application. It is provided from Liferay Marketplace and allows Liferay DXP to act as a SAML 2.0 identity provider or as a service provider. Important: You can set Liferay DXP up as an Identity Provider or as a Service Provider. Each single Liferay DXP instance can serve as an identity provider or as a service provider, but not both. Both configurations are covered in this article.
To set Liferay DXP up to act as a SAML Identity Provider, follow the steps below. Before proceeding, note that in step 3 below, you generate a keystore for SAML. This keystore has two storage options:
- In the file system - In the Documents and Media library
The file system keystore manager is used by default and the default location is
[Liferay Home]/data directory. To use Documents and Media library storage
for your keystore instead of file system storage, use the document library
To select a keystore manager, go to Control Panel → System Settings → SAML KeyStoreManager Implementation Configuration. There, the options are Filesystem Keystore Manager and Document Library Keystore Manager.
The great thing about using Document Library storage is that you can use any number of back end file stores. These are protected not only by the system in which you’re storing the key, but also by Liferay DXP’s permissions system.
Here are the steps for setting up Liferay DXP to act as a SAML Identity Provider:
Install the Liferay SAML 2.0 Provider app. To access the SAML Admin interface, click on Control Panel → Configuration and then on SAML Admin.
To begin configuring Liferay DXP to use SAML, select a SAML role for Liferay DXP and choose an entity ID.
Select the Identity Provider SAML role. Enter liferaysamlidp if you’re setting up an example Liferay DXP instance. Alternatively, choose your own entity ID. Then click Save. A new Certificate and Private Key section appears.
The Certificate and Private Key section lets you create a keystore for SAML. Click on Create Certificate and enter the following information:
- Your common name (your first and last name)
- The name of your organization
- The name of your organizational unit
- The name of your city or locality
- The name of your state or province
- The name of your country
- The length in days that your keystore will remain valid (how long before the keystore expires)
- The key algorithm (RSA is the default)
- The key length in bits (2048 is the default)
- The key password
When you enter all the required information, click Save.
When you create the certificate and private key, you also create a keystore if one doesn’t already exist. As described above, this keystore has two storage options: file system storage (the default) and Documents and Media storage.
After you click Save, you can click Replace Certificate at any time to replace the current certificate with a new one if your old one has expired or if you want to change the key’s password.
Three more tabs now appear:
General: This tab lets you enable or disable a SAML IdP and lets you manage the required keystore.
Identity Provider: This tab contains other required configurations such as whether to enable SSL. If SSL has been enabled, then SAML requests are not approved unless they are also encrypted.
Service Provider Connections: This tab manages any Service Providers connected to this Liferay DXP instance.
See below for more information on the Identity Provider and Service Provider Connections tabs.
After you save your certificate and private key information, check the Enabled box at the top of the General tab and click Save. You successfully set Liferay DXP up as a SAML Identity Provider!
To configure Liferay DXP’s SAML Identity Provider Settings, navigate to the Identity Provider tab of the SAML Admin Control Panel entry.
The Identity Provider tab includes these options:
Sign Metadata?: When this box is checked, the metadata XML file that’s produced is signed.
SSL Required: When this box is checked, any SAML messages that are not sent over SSL are rejected. This affects URLs in the generated metadata.
Require Authn Request Signature?: When this box is checked, each Authn Request must be signed by the sending Service Provider. In most cases, this should be enabled.
Session Maximum Age: Specify the maximum duration of the SAML SSO session
in seconds. If this property is not set or is set to
0, the SSO session has an
unlimited duration. The SSO session maximum duration can be longer than the
portal session maximum duration. If the portal session expires before the SSO
session expires, the user is logged back in to Liferay DXP automatically. SSO
session expiration does not trigger a single logout from all service providers.
You can use the session maximum age, for example, to force users to sign in
again after a certain period of time.
Session Timeout: Specify the maximum idle time of the SAML SSO session. Even if the session maximum age is unlimited, the SSO session expires whenever the user’s idle time reaches the limit set by the session timeout property.
Before adding a Service Provider (SP), verify you’ve completed these tasks:
A SAML keystore has been generated. It can be stored in one of two locations: the
datafolder or in the Documents and Media library.
On the Identity Provider tab, the following settings have been set:
a. Sign Metadata has been checked.
b. SSL Required - checked if SSL is active elsewhere. SSL is disabled by default.
c. Authn Request Signature Required: has been checked.
d. Session Maximum Age: has been set. If set to
0, then the SSO has an unlimited duration.
e. Session Timeout: Specify the maximum idle time of the SAML SSO session.
Once the Enabled checkbox has been checked, the IdP is now live, and you can generate the required metadata. This URL is the default location of Liferay DXP’s metadata XML file:
If this URL does not display correctly, then the SAML instance has not been
enabled. Use the URL or click Save in the browser to generate an actual
Of course, setting up Liferay DXP as a SAML Identity Provider is only useful if you can connect to one or more SAML Service Providers. Navigate to the Service Provider Connections tab of the SAML Admin Control Panel entry and click the Add Service Provider button to add a SAML Service Provider.
The New Service Provider page includes these options:
Name: The name of the Service Provider with which to connect. The name can be anything; it’s purely cosmetic.
Entity ID: The Service Provider’s entity ID. This value must match the entity ID declared in the Service Provider metadata.
Enabled: When this box is checked, the Service Provider connection is active.
Assertion Lifetime: Defines the number of seconds after which the SAML assertion issued by the Identity Provider should be considered expired.
Metadata: You can either provide a URL to the Service Provider metadata XML
file or you can manually upload the Service Provider metadata XML file. If you
provide a URL, the XML file is automatically retrieved and periodically
polled for updates. The update interval can be configured in
System Settings with the
saml.metadata.refresh.interval property which
specifies a number of seconds. If fetching the metadata XML file by URL fails,
you can’t enable the Service Provider connection. If the Identity Provider
server cannot access the metadata via URL, you can upload the XML file manually.
In this case, the metadata XML file is not updated automatically.
Name Identifier Format: Choose the Name Identifier Format used in the SAML Response. This should be set according to what the Service Provider expects to receive. For Liferay Service Providers, any selection other than email address indicates that the Name Identifier refers to screen name. The formats don’t have any special meaning to Liferay Identity Providers. The NameID value is defined by the Name Identifier attribute. See the next option.
Name Identifier Attribute Name: This specifies which attribute of the
User object to use as the NameID value. Possible values include
uuid. Additionally, you can prefix the name
expando:. If you use the prefix
static, the value is
whatever comes after
static:. If you use the prefix
expando, the value is
whatever custom field is specified after
expando:. For example,
would look up the
User custom field with the name
Attributes Enabled: Include and resolve assertion attributes.
Attributes Namespace Enabled: When this box is checked, the attribute names are namespaced like this:
urn:liferay:user:expando: urn:liferay:user: urn:liferay:groups: urn:liferay:organizationRole: urn:liferay:organization: urn:liferay:roles: urn:liferay:siteRole: urn:liferay:userGroupRole: urn:liferay:userGroups:
Attributes: Enter a list of attributes to include in the assertion, one per line. Each line is an expression that gets parsed. Examples:
organizations organizationRoles roles siteRoles userGroups static:[attributeName]=[attributeValue] expando:[userCustomFieldName]
Note that the full namespace depends on the attribute name. Attribute
namespaces can be very useful. Use them when attribute names from different
namespaces might conflict. For example,
Keep Alive URL: If users are logged into several Liferay DXP SP instances via
a Liferay DXP IdP, their sessions can be kept alive as long as they keep a
browser window open to one of them. Configure this only if the SP is Liferay DXP.
The URL is
https://[SP host name]/c/portal/saml/keep_alive.
Verify your settings are correct when connecting the Liferay DXP-based IdP to its first SP. SPs connect to only one IdP, so if the first one doesn’t work, the rest won’t either.
Provide a general name for the SP.
Entity IDname must be identical to the one declared in the Service Provider metadata.
Check the Enabled checkbox.
Set a value for the Assertion Lifetime.
Make sure the SP’s metadata has been provided either as a URL or an XML file has been uploaded.
Make sure Name Identifier Format and Name Identifier Attribute Name have been set.
Make sure Attributes Namespace Enabled has been set.
If you don’t have a Service Provider to add right now, that’s fine. In the next section, you’ll learn how to set Liferay DXP up as a SAML Service Provider. After you set up another Liferay DXP instance as a Service Provider, come back to this Liferay DXP installation and add the Service Provider: Control Panel → SAML Admin → Service Provider Connections → Add Service Provider.