Setting up Liferay DXP as a SAML Identity Provider

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. Liferay Portal 6.1 EE and later versions support SAML 2.0 integration via the Liferay Connector to SAML 2.0 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.

Storing Your Keystore

Your first step is to determine where to store your keystore. You have two 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 the [Liferay Home]/data directory (you can change the location in System Settings → SSO → SAML Configuration → Key Store Path). To use Documents and Media library storage for your keystore instead of file system storage, go to Control PanelSystem SettingsSecuritySSOSAML KeyStoreManager Implementation Configuration. Select from the two options: Filesystem Keystore Manager or Document Library Keystore Manager.

If you use Document Library storage, you can use any number of back-end file stores. These are protected not only by the system where the key is stored, but also by Liferay DXP’s permissions system.

Configuring Liferay DXP as a SAML Identity Provider

  1. To access the SAML Admin interface, click on Control PanelConfiguration and then on SAML Admin.

  2. To begin configuring Liferay DXP to use SAML, select a SAML role for Liferay DXP and choose an entity ID.

    Figure 1: Select a SAML role for Liferay and enter an entity ID.

    Select the Identity Provider SAML role. Enter your own entity ID. Then click Save. A new Certificate and Private Key section appears.

  3. 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

    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. By default, the certificate uses the SHA256 algorithm for encryption and is fingerprinted and self-signed via RSA and SHA256.

  4. 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.

    Figure 2: The General tab of the SAML Admin portlet displays information about the current certificate and private key and allows administrators to download the certificate or replace the certificate.

    Three more tabs now appear:

    General: For enabling or disabling a SAML IdP and managing the required keystore.

    Identity Provider: Contains IdP options, 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.

  5. 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!

Changing the Identity Provider Settings

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?: Check this box to ensure the metadata XML file that’s produced is signed.

SSL Required: Check this box to reject any SAML messages that are not sent over SSL. 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:

  1. A SAML keystore has been generated. It can be stored in one of two locations: the data folder or in the Documents and Media library.

  2. 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.

  3. Once the Enabled checkbox has been checked, the IdP is 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 XML file.

Your Identity Provider is now set up. Next, you must register a Service Provider.

« Authenticating Using SAMLRegistering a SAML Service Provider »
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