technical Archive

Generating eduPersonPrincipalName from your internal directory

This page is intended to give you some ideas about how to generate an eduPersonPrincipal attribute that is useful to SAFIRE by reusing existing unique user identifiers from your internal directory services. What’s shown below are SimpleSAMLphp config snippets, but the ideas translate to pretty much all identity provider software. If you’re not using SimpleSAMLphp, hopefully the comments help you understand what is going on. All the authproc filters shown here are documented in SimpleSAMLphp’s docs.

Generating certificates for SAFIRE

Types of certificates SAML installations typically use at least two1 different certificates: one of the public facing portions of a website, and one to establish a private trust relationship between providers. Whilst it is possible to use the same certificate for these two roles, this is not best practice nor is it recommended. The technical requirements for identity- and service-providers definitively specify the requirements and recommendations for these two types of certificates.

Theme generator for SimpleSAMLphp

A number of people seem to find SimpleSAMLphp’s theming system intimidating. To aid with this, we’ve written a simple theme generator for SimpleSAMLphp. The generator takes SSP’s stock templates and massages them to include some branding – amongst other things, a logo on the top right of the page and corporate colours in the header bar. The generator is a bash script, and is available here. It takes a number of command line options which can be used to manipulate the resulting theme:

SAML 101 - An intro to SAML for sysadmin

This document intends to be a quick primer on SAML for those who want to get on with the rest of their todo list. SAML seems big and scary, because it has a lot of decisions and moving parts. But the reality is that many of these decisions have already been made for you, and you don’t need to know about the moving parts to make it work for you. Thus this primer attempts to distill out the most important bits in a way that’s easy to skim.

Generating eduPersonEntitlement

The eduPersonEntitlement attribute is used to indicate a user’s entitlement to access a specific service or resource. For example, its most widely used value, urn:mace:dir:entitlement:common-lib-terms, is used to indicate eligibility to access licensed content from information publishers. Relationship to eduPersonScopedAffiliation Library information providers often support both eduPersonEntitlement and eduPersonScopedAffiliation as a means of limiting access to licensed resources. It is likely that there is significant overlap between values used for eduPersonAffiliation (and thus eduPersonScopedAffiliation).

Support for eduPersonEntitlement added

In our ongoing work to integrate library journal and platform providers, it has become apparent that we need to support the eduPersonEntitlement attribute. Support for this attribute has therefore been added to the Federation hub, as well as the test identity and service providers. To ease transition and to lower barriers to entry, the Federation hub may automatically generate a value for eduPersonEntitlement from eduPersonAffilation if none is supplied by the identity provider.

Testing your IdP or SP

Testing an Identity Provider The most obvious way to test an Identity Provider is to make use of SAFIRE’s Test Service Provider ( This SP is always aware of SAFIRE’s full attribute set and emulates a locally connected SP. By logging in, Identity Provider administrators are able to test their integration with SAFIRE as well as their own attribute release. (Likewise, end users can use it to see what attributes their home institution releases about them.

Monitoring of Identity Providers

As a courtesy, we monitor the reachability of the various South African identity providers and make that information available at The monitoring system initiates a single sign-on request, and reports the outcome as follow: Green means that we completed all the tests and found something that looked like a login page. Yellow means that we got as far as what we think should be a login page, but didn’t find a username field on it. The institution’s own monitoring or I.T. help desk may be able to provide more information. Red means that we weren’t able to contact the identity provider for some reason. This could be because there’s a network problem or that the there’s some problem with the identity provider (service not running, certificates expired, metadata expired, etc). The monitoring output shows the hosts we passed through on the way to what we believe is the login page. It may also give details of any problem(s) that were encountered.

South African Identity Federation