By configuring and enabling Shibboleth support in your Dataverse installation, your users will be able to log in using the identity system managed by their institution (“single sign on”, or at least “single password”) rather than having to create yet another password local to your Dataverse installation. Typically, users know their login system by some sort of internal branding such as “HarvardKey” or “Touchstone” (MIT) but within the Dataverse Software application, the Shibboleth feature is known as Institutional Log In as explained to end users in the Account Creation + Management section of the User Guide.

Shibboleth is an implementation of the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) protocol which is similar in spirit to systems used by many webapps that allow you to log in via Google, Facebook, or Twitter.

Shibboleth can be compared and contrasted with OAuth2, which you can read about in the OAuth Login Options section.


We assume you’ve already gone through a basic installation as described in the Installation section and that you’ve paid particular attention to the Auth Modes: Local vs. Remote vs. Both explanation in the Configuration section. You’re going to give Shibboleth a whirl. Let’s get started.

System Requirements

Support for Shibboleth in the Dataverse Software is built on the popular “mod_shib” Apache module, “shibd” daemon, and the Embedded Discovery Service (EDS) Javascript library, all of which are distributed by the Shibboleth Consortium. EDS is bundled with the Dataverse Software, but mod_shib and shibd must be installed and configured per below.

Only Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and derivatives have been tested (x86_64 versions) by the Dataverse Project team. See for details and note that (according to that page) as of this writing Ubuntu and Debian are not offically supported by the Shibboleth project.

Install Apache

We will be “fronting” the app server with Apache so that we can make use of the mod_shib Apache module. We will also make use of the mod_proxy_ajp module built in to Apache.

We include the mod_ssl package to enforce HTTPS per below.

yum install httpd mod_ssl

Install Shibboleth

Installing Shibboleth will give us both the shibd service and the mod_shib Apache module.

Enable Shibboleth Yum Repo

This yum repo is recommended at

cd /etc/yum.repos.d

Install wget if you don’t have it already:

yum install wget

If you are running el8 (RHEL/derivative 8):


If you are running el7 (RHEL/CentOS 7):


If you are running el6 (RHEL/CentOS 6):


Install Shibboleth Via Yum

Please note that during the installation it’s ok to import GPG keys from the Shibboleth project. We trust them.

yum install shibboleth

Configure Payara

App Server HTTP and HTTPS ports

Apache will be listening on ports 80 and 443 so we need to make sure the app server isn’t using them. If you’ve been changing the default ports used by the app server per the Configuration section, revert the HTTP service to listen on 8080, the default port:

./asadmin set

Likewise, if necessary, revert the HTTPS service to listen on port 8181:

./asadmin set


A jk-connector network listener should have already been set up when you ran the installer mentioned in the Installation section, but for reference, here is the command that is used:

./asadmin create-network-listener --protocol http-listener-1 --listenerport 8009 --jkenabled true jk-connector

You can verify this with ./asadmin list-network-listeners.

This enables the AJP protocol used in Apache configuration files below.

SSLEngine Warning Workaround

This workaround was required for Glassfish 4 but it is unknown if it is required under Payara.

When fronting Payara with Apache and using the jk-connector (AJP, mod_proxy_ajp), in your Payara server.log you can expect to see “WARNING … org.glassfish.grizzly.http.server.util.RequestUtils … jk-connector … Unable to populate SSL attributes java.lang.IllegalStateException: SSLEngine is null”.

To hide these warnings, run ./asadmin set-log-levels org.glassfish.grizzly.http.server.util.RequestUtils=SEVERE so that the WARNING level is hidden as recommended at and

Configure Apache

Enforce HTTPS

To prevent attacks such as FireSheep, HTTPS should be enforced. provides a good method. You could copy and paste that those “rewrite rule” lines into Apache’s main config file at /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf but using Apache’s “virtual hosts” feature is recommended so that you can leave the main configuration file alone and drop a host-specific file into place.

Below is an example of how “rewrite rule” lines look within a VirtualHost block. Download a sample file , edit it to substitute your own hostname under ServerName, and place it at /etc/httpd/conf.d/ or a filename that matches your hostname. The file must be in /etc/httpd/conf.d and must end in “.conf” to be included in Apache’s configuration.

<VirtualHost *:80>


# From

RewriteEngine On
# This will enable the Rewrite capabilities

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
# This checks to make sure the connection is not already HTTPS

RewriteRule ^/?(.*) https://%{SERVER_NAME}/$1 [R,L]
# This rule will redirect users from their original location, to the same location but using HTTPS.
# i.e. to
# The leading slash is made optional so that this will work either in httpd.conf
# or .htaccess context


Edit Apache ssl.conf File

/etc/httpd/conf.d/ssl.conf should be edited to contain the FQDN of your hostname like this: ServerName (substituting your hostname).

Near the bottom of /etc/httpd/conf.d/ssl.conf but before the closing </VirtualHost> directive, add the following:

# don't pass paths used by rApache and TwoRavens to Payara
ProxyPassMatch ^/RApacheInfo$ !
ProxyPassMatch ^/custom !
ProxyPassMatch ^/dataexplore !
# don't pass paths used by Shibboleth to Payara
ProxyPassMatch ^/Shibboleth.sso !
ProxyPassMatch ^/shibboleth-ds !
# pass everything else to Payara
ProxyPass / ajp://localhost:8009/

<Location /shib.xhtml>
  AuthType shibboleth
  ShibRequestSetting requireSession 1
  require valid-user

You can download a sample ssl.conf file to compare it against the file you edited.

Note that /etc/httpd/conf.d/shib.conf and /etc/httpd/conf.d/shibboleth-ds.conf are expected to be present from installing Shibboleth via yum.

You may wish to also add a timeout directive to the ProxyPass line within ssl.conf. This is especially useful for larger file uploads as apache may prematurely kill the connection before the upload is processed.

e.g. ProxyPass / ajp://localhost:8009/ timeout=600 defines a timeout of 600 seconds.

Try to strike a balance with the timeout setting. Again a timeout too low will impact file uploads. A timeout too high may cause additional stress on the server as it will have to service idle clients for a longer period of time.

Configure Shibboleth


/etc/shibboleth/shibboleth2.xml should look something like the sample shibboleth2.xml file below, but you must substitute your hostname in the entityID value. If your starting point is a shibboleth2.xml file provided by someone else, you must ensure that attributePrefix="AJP_" is added under ApplicationDefaults per the Shibboleth wiki . Without the AJP_ configuration in place, the required Shibboleth Attributes will be null and users will be unable to log in.

This is an example shibboleth2.xml generated originally by
and tweaked for Dataverse.  See also:

- attribute-map.xml
- dataverse-idp-metadata.xml

<SPConfig xmlns="urn:mace:shibboleth:3.0:native:sp:config" xmlns:md="urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:metadata"

    <!-- FIXME: change the entityID to your hostname. -->
    <ApplicationDefaults entityID=""
        REMOTE_USER="eppn" attributePrefix="AJP_">

        <!-- You should use secure cookies if at all possible.  See cookieProps in this Wiki article. -->
        <!-- -->
        <Sessions lifetime="28800" timeout="3600" checkAddress="false" relayState="ss:mem" handlerSSL="false">

	      SAML2 SAML1

            <!-- SAML and local-only logout. -->
            <!-- -->
            <Logout>SAML2 Local</Logout>

                Handlers allow you to interact with the SP and gather more information.  Try them out!
                Attribute values received by the SP through SAML will be visible at:

            <!-- Extension service that generates "approximate" metadata based on SP configuration. -->
            <Handler type="MetadataGenerator" Location="/Metadata" signing="false"/>

            <!-- Status reporting service. -->
            <Handler type="Status" Location="/Status" acl=""/>

            <!-- Session diagnostic service. -->
	    <!-- showAttributeValues must be set to true to see attributes at /Shibboleth.sso/Session . -->
            <Handler type="Session" Location="/Session" showAttributeValues="true"/>

            <!-- JSON feed of discovery information. -->
            <Handler type="DiscoveryFeed" Location="/DiscoFeed"/>


        <!-- Error pages to display to yourself if something goes horribly wrong. -->
        <Errors supportContact="root@localhost" logoLocation="/shibboleth-sp/logo.jpg"

        <!-- Loads and trusts a metadata file that describes only the Testshib IdP and how to communicate with it. -->
        <!-- IdPs we want allow go in /etc/shibboleth/dataverse-idp-metadata.xml -->
        <MetadataProvider type="XML" path="dataverse-idp-metadata.xml" backingFilePath="local-idp-metadata.xml" legacyOrgNames="true" reloadInterval="7200"/>
        <!-- Uncomment to enable all the Research & Scholarship IdPs from InCommon -->
        <MetadataProvider type="XML" url="" backingFilePath="InCommon-metadata.xml" maxRefreshDelay="3600">
            <DiscoveryFilter type="Whitelist" matcher="EntityAttributes">

        <!-- Attribute and trust options you shouldn't need to change. -->
        <AttributeExtractor type="XML" validate="true" path="attribute-map.xml"/>
        <AttributeResolver type="Query" subjectMatch="true"/>
        <AttributeFilter type="XML" validate="true" path="attribute-policy.xml"/>

        <!-- Your SP generated these credentials.  They're used to talk to IdP's. -->
        <CredentialResolver type="File" key="sp-key.pem" certificate="sp-cert.pem"/>


    <!-- Security policies you shouldn't change unless you know what you're doing. -->
    <SecurityPolicyProvider type="XML" validate="true" path="security-policy.xml"/>

    <!-- Low-level configuration about protocols and bindings available for use. -->
    <ProtocolProvider type="XML" validate="true" reloadChanges="false" path="protocols.xml"/>


Specific Identity Provider(s)

When configuring the MetadataProvider section of shibboleth2.xml you should consider if your users will all come from the same Identity Provider (IdP) or not.

Most Dataverse installations will probably only want to authenticate users via Shibboleth using their home institution’s Identity Provider (IdP). The configuration above in shibboleth2.xml looks for the metadata for the Identity Providers (IdPs) in a file at /etc/shibboleth/dataverse-idp-metadata.xml. You can download a sample dataverse-idp-metadata.xml file and that includes the SAMLtest IdP from but you will want to edit this file to include the metadata from the Identity Provider you care about. The identity people at your institution will be able to provide you with this metadata and they will very likely ask for a list of attributes that the Dataverse Software requires, which are listed at Shibboleth Attributes.

Identity Federation

Rather than or in addition to specifying individual Identity Provider(s) you may wish to broaden the number of users who can log into your Dataverse installation by registering your Dataverse installation as a Service Provider (SP) within an identity federation. For example, in the United States, users from the many institutions registered with the “InCommon” identity federation that release the “Research & Scholarship Attribute Bundle” will be able to log into your Dataverse installation if you register it as an InCommon Service Provider that is part of the Research & Scholarship (R&S) category.

The details of how to register with an identity federation are out of scope for this document, but a good starting point may be this list of identity federations across the world:

One of the benefits of using shibd is that it can be configured to periodically poll your identity federation for updates as new Identity Providers (IdPs) join the federation you’ve registered with. For the InCommon federation, the following page describes how to download and verify signed InCommon metadata every hour: . You can also see an example of this as maxRefreshDelay="3600" in the commented out section of the shibboleth2.xml file above.

Once you’ve joined a federation the list of IdPs in the dropdown can be quite long! If you’re curious how many are in the list you could try something like this: curl | jq '.[].entityID' | wc -l

Shibboleth Attributes

The following attributes are required for a successful Shibboleth login:

  • Shib-Identity-Provider

  • eppn

  • givenName

  • sn

  • email

See also and


By default, some attributes /etc/shibboleth/attribute-map.xml are commented out and “subject-id” is used instead of “eppn”. We recommend downloading and using attribute-map.xml instead which has these changes and should be compatible with the Dataverse installation.

Shibboleth and ADFS

With appropriate configuration, your Dataverse installation and Shibboleth can make use of “single sign on” using Active Directory. This requires configuring shibd and httpd to load appropriate libraries, and insuring that the attribute mapping matches those provided. Example configuration files for shibboleth2.xml and attribute-map.xml may be helpful. Note that your ADFS server hostname goes in the file referenced under “MetadataProvider” in your shibboleth2.xml file.

Disable or Reconfigure SELinux

SELinux is set to “enforcing” by default on RHEL/CentOS, but unfortunately Shibboleth does not “just work” with SELinux. You have two options. You can disable SELinux or you can reconfigure SELinux to accommodate Shibboleth.

Disable SELinux

The first and easiest option is to set SELINUX=permisive in /etc/selinux/config and run setenforce permissive or otherwise disable SELinux to get Shibboleth to work. This is apparently what the Shibboleth project expects because their wiki page at says, “At the present time, we do not support the SP in conjunction with SELinux, and at minimum we know that communication between the mod_shib and shibd components will fail if it’s enabled. Other problems may also occur.”

Reconfigure SELinux to Accommodate Shibboleth

The second (more involved) option is to use the checkmodule, semodule_package, and semodule tools to apply a local policy to make Shibboleth work with SELinux. Let’s get started.

Put Type Enforcement (TE) File in misc directory

Copy and paste or download the shibboleth.te Type Enforcement (TE) file below and put it at /etc/selinux/targeted/src/policy/domains/misc/shibboleth.te.

module shibboleth 1.0;

require {
    class file {open read};
    class sock_file write;
    class unix_stream_socket connectto;
    type httpd_t;
    type initrc_t;
    type var_run_t;
    type var_t;

allow httpd_t initrc_t:unix_stream_socket connectto;
allow httpd_t var_run_t:sock_file write;
allow httpd_t var_t:file {open read};

(If you would like to know where the shibboleth.te came from and how to hack on it, please see the SELinux section of the Developer Guide. Pull requests are welcome!)

Run checkmodule

checkmodule -M -m -o shibboleth.mod shibboleth.te

Run semodule_package

semodule_package -o shibboleth.pp -m shibboleth.mod

Silent is golden. No output is expected.

Run semodule

semodule -i shibboleth.pp

Silent is golden. No output is expected. This will place a file in /etc/selinux/targeted/modules/active/modules/shibboleth.pp and include “shibboleth” in the output of semodule -l. See the semodule man page if you ever want to remove or disable the module you just added.

Congrats! You’ve made the creator of proud. :)

Restart Apache and Shibboleth

After configuration is complete, restart shib and httpd.

On CentOS 7:

systemctl restart shibd.service

systemctl restart httpd.service

On CentOS 6:

service shibd restart

service httpd restart

Configure Apache and shibd to Start at Boot

On CentOS 7/8:

systemctl enable httpd.service

systemctl enable shibd.service

On CentOS 6:

chkconfig httpd on

chkconfig shibd on

Verify DiscoFeed and Metadata URLs

As a sanity check, visit the following URLs (substituting your hostname) to make sure you see JSON and XML:

The JSON in DiscoFeed comes from the list of IdPs you configured in the MetadataProvider section of shibboleth2.xml and will form a dropdown list on the Login Page.

Add the Shibboleth Authentication Provider to Your Dataverse Installation

Now that you’ve configured your app server, Apache, and shibd, you are ready to turn your attention back to the Dataverse installation to enable Shibboleth as an “authentication provider.” You will be using curl to POST the following JSON file to the authenticationProviders endpoint of the Native API.


curl -X POST -H 'Content-type: application/json' --upload-file shibAuthProvider.json http://localhost:8080/api/admin/authenticationProviders

Now that you’ve added the Shibboleth authentication provider to your Dataverse installation, as described in the Account Creation + Management section of the User Guide, you should see a new “Your Institution” button under “Other Log In Options” on the Log In page. After clicking “Your Institution”, you should see the institutions you configured in /etc/shibboleth/shibboleth2.xml above. If not, double check the content of the DiscoFeed URL above. If you don’t see the “Your Institution” button, confirm that the the “shib” authentication provider has been added by listing all the authentication providers the Dataverse installation knows about:

curl http://localhost:8080/api/admin/authenticationProviders

Once you have confirmed that the Dataverse installation’s web interface is listing the institutions you expect, you’ll want to temporarily remove the Shibboleth authentication provider you just added because users won’t be able to log in via their institution until you have exchanged metadata with one or more Identity Providers (IdPs), which is described below. As explained in the section of the Native API of the API Guide, you can delete an authentication provider by passing its id:

curl -X DELETE http://localhost:8080/api/admin/authenticationProviders/shib

Before contacting your actual Identity Provider, we recommend testing first with the “SAMLtest” Identity Provider (IdP) to ensure that you have configured everything correctly. This process is described next.

Exchange Metadata with Your Identity Provider (SAMLtest) is a fantastic resource for testing Shibboleth configurations. Depending on your relationship with your identity people you may want to avoid bothering them until you have tested your Dataverse installation configuration with the SAMLtest Identity Provider (IdP). This process is explained below.

If you’ve temporarily configured your MetadataProvider to use the SAMLtest Identity Provider (IdP) as outlined above, you can download your metadata like this (substituting your hostname in both places):

curl >

Then upload your metadata to (or click “Fetch”).

Then try to log in to your Dataverse installation using the SAMLtest IdP. After logging in, you can visit the (substituting your hostname) to troubleshoot which attributes are being received. You should see something like the following:

Session Expiration (barring inactivity): 479 minute(s)
Client Address:
SSO Protocol: urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:protocol
Identity Provider:
Authentication Time: 2019-11-28T01:23:28.381Z
Authentication Context Class: urn:oasis:names:tc:SAML:2.0:ac:classes:PasswordProtectedTransport
Authentication Context Decl: (none)

displayName: Rick Sanchez
givenName: Rick
sn: Sanchez
telephoneNumber: +1-555-555-5515
uid: rick

When you are done testing, you can delete the SAMLtest users you created like this (after you have deleted any data and permisions associated with the users):

curl -X DELETE http://localhost:8080/api/admin/authenticatedUsers/rick

(Of course, you are also welcome to do a fresh reinstall per the Installation section.)

If your Dataverse installation is working with SAMLtest it should work with your institution’s Identity Provider (IdP). Next, you should:

  • Send your identity people your metadata file above (or a link to download it themselves). From their perspective you are a Service Provider (SP).

  • Ask your identity people to send you the metadata for the Identity Provider (IdP) they operate. See the section above on shibboleth2.xml and MetadataProvider for what to do with the IdP metadata. Restart shibd and httpd as necessary.

  • Re-add Shibboleth as an authentication provider to your Dataverse installation as described above.

  • Test login to your Dataverse installation via your institution’s Identity Provider (IdP).

Backup sp-cert.pem and sp-key.pem Files

Especially if you have gotten authentication working with your institution’s Identity Provider (IdP), now is the time to make sure you have backups.

The installation and configuration of Shibboleth will result in the following cert and key files being created and it’s important to back them up. The cert is in the metadata you shared with your IdP:

  • /etc/shibboleth/sp-cert.pem

  • /etc/shibboleth/sp-key.pem

If you have more than one Payara server, you should use the same sp-cert.pem and sp-key.pem files on all of them. If these files are compromised and you need to regenerate them, you can cd /etc/shibboleth and run like this (substituting you own hostname):

./ -f -u shibd -g shibd -h -e


The Troubleshooting section of the Admin Guide explains how to increase Payara logging levels. The relevant classes and packages are:




Converting Accounts

As explained in the Account Creation + Management section of the User Guide, users can convert from one login option to another.

Converting Local Users to Shibboleth

If you are running in “remote and local” mode and have existing local users that you’d like to convert to Shibboleth users, give them the following steps to follow, which are also explained in the Account Creation + Management section of the User Guide:

  • Log in with your local account to make sure you know your password, which will be needed for the account conversion process.

  • Log out of your local account.

  • Log in with your Shibboleth account.

  • If the email address associated with your local account matches the email address asserted by the Identity Provider (IdP), you will be prompted for the password of your local account and asked to confirm the conversion of your account. You’re done! Browse around to ensure you see all the data you expect to see. Permissions have been preserved.

  • If the email address asserted by the Identity Provider (IdP) does not match the email address of any local user, you will be prompted to create a new account. If you were expecting account conversion, you should decline creating a new Shibboleth account, log back in to your local account, and let Support know the email on file for your local account. Support may ask you to change your email address for your local account to the one that is being asserted by the Identity Provider. Someone with access to the Payara logs will see this email address there.

Converting Shibboleth Users to Local

Whereas users convert their own accounts from local to Shibboleth as described above, conversion in the opposite direction is performed by a sysadmin. A common scenario may be as follows:

  • A user emails Support saying, “I left the university (or wherever) and can’t log in to the Dataverse installation anymore. What should I do?”

  • Support replies asking the user for a new email address (Gmail, new institution email, etc.) to associate with their Dataverse installation account.

  • The user replies with a new email address to associate with their Dataverse installation account.

  • Support runs the curl command below, supplying the database id of the user to convert and the new email address and notes the username returned.

  • Support emails the user and indicates that that they should use the password reset feature to set a new password and to make sure to take note of their username under Account Information (or the password reset confirmation email) since the user never had a username before.

  • The user resets password and is able to log in with their local account. All permissions have been preserved with the exception of any permissions assigned to an institution-wide Shibboleth group to which the user formerly belonged.

In the example below, the user has indicated that the new email address they’d like to have associated with their account is “” and their user id from the authenticateduser database table is “2”. The API token must belong to a superuser (probably the sysadmin executing the command). Note that the old version of this call, convertShibToBuiltIn, is deprecated and will be deleted in a future release.

curl -H "X-Dataverse-key: $API_TOKEN" -X PUT -d "" http://localhost:8080/api/admin/authenticatedUsers/id/2/convertRemoteToBuiltIn

Rather than looking up the user’s id in the authenticateduser database table, you can issue this command to get a listing of all users:

curl -H "X-Dataverse-key: $API_TOKEN" http://localhost:8080/api/admin/authenticatedUsers

Per above, you now need to tell the user to use the password reset feature to set a password for their local account.

Institution-Wide Shibboleth Groups

The Dataverse Software allows you to optionally define “institution-wide Shibboleth groups” based on the the entityID of the Identity Provider (IdP) used to authenticate. For example, an “institution-wide Shibboleth group” with as the IdP would include everyone who logs in via the SAMLtest IdP mentioned above.

To create an institution-wide Shibboleth groups, create a JSON file like shibGroupSAMLtest.json as below and issue this curl command:

curl http://localhost:8080/api/admin/groups/shib -X POST -H 'Content-type:application/json' --upload-file shibGroupSAMLtest.json

  "name": "All Shibboleth Users",
  "attribute": "Shib-Identity-Provider",
  "pattern": ""

Institution-wide Shibboleth groups are based on the “Shib-Identity-Provider” SAML attribute asserted at runtime after successful authentication with the Identity Provider (IdP) and held within the browser session rather than being persisted in the database for any length of time. It is for this reason that roles based on these groups, such as the ability to create a dataset, are not honored by non-browser interactions, such as through the SWORD API.

To list institution-wide Shibboleth groups: curl http://localhost:8080/api/admin/groups/shib

To delete an institution-wide Shibboleth group (assuming id 1): curl -X DELETE http://localhost:8080/api/admin/groups/shib/1

Support for arbitrary attributes beyond “Shib-Identity-Provider” such as “eduPersonScopedAffiliation”, etc. is being tracked at

Multi-Factor Authentication

Institutions that wish to require MFA for their own accounts may add


to the shibboleth2.xml SSO element.

Federated institutions that would like to require MFA for their own account but not require MFA of other federated institutions may add

<RelyingParty Name="" authnContextClassRef=""/>

to shibboleth2.xml, beneath the Sessions and Errors elements.