External Authentication on the Appliance has been enhanced to support SAML. The SAML implementation has been tested with KeyCloak 1.8.

In this guide we will cover how to manually configure an Appliance’s external authentication to work with SAML. The SAML implementation has been tested with KeyCloak but is implemented generically using Apache’s mod_auth_mellon module and should work with other SAML Identity Providers.

The current implementation only secures the Appliance’s Web administrative UI with SAML.

Note: The REST API and Self-Service UI do not currently support SAML.

  1. Requirements

  2. Configuring SAML

  3. Configuring the Administrative UI

  4. Re-Enabling Local Login

  5. Configuring SAML using the CLI


The following is needed in order to enable SAML Authentication to the Appliance:

  • A CentOS/RHEL 7.2 based Appliance

  • A SAML Identity Provider, (e.g. KeyCloak 1.8 or Later)

Configure SAML

All SAML related certificates and keys are accessed from /etc/httpd/saml2/

First ssh to the appliance as root, then create that directory:

# mkdir -p /etc/httpd/saml2

Apache Configuration

Copy the Apache remote user and SAML template configuration files:

# TEMPLATE_DIR="/opt/manageiq/manageiq-appliance/TEMPLATE"
# cp ${TEMPLATE_DIR}/etc/httpd/conf.d/manageiq-remote-user.conf        \
# cp ${TEMPLATE_DIR}/etc/httpd/conf.d/manageiq-external-auth-saml.conf \

SAML Configuration

Notable defaults in the manageiq-external-auth-saml.conf file:

Description Default
Identity Provider Files (i.e. KeyCloak)  
Metadata File /etc/httpd/saml2/idp-metadata.xml
Service Provider Files (i.e. mod_auth_mellon)  
Private Key File /etc/httpd/saml2/miqsp-key.key
Certificate File /etc/httpd/saml2/miqsp-cert.cert
Metadata File /etc/httpd/saml2/miqsp-metadata.xml

Other mod_auth_mellon parameters must not be modified as the Appliance expects them to be defined as such, i.e. End points, Protected URL, etc.

For the Service Provider files on the Appliance, these can be generated using the mod_auth_mellon command as follows:

# cd /etc/httpd/saml2
# /usr/libexec/mod_auth_mellon/ https://<miq-appliance> https://<miq-appliance>/saml2

The script creates file names based on the appliance URL but can be renamed to match the expected file names from the manageiq-external-auth-saml.conf file:

# mv https_<miq-appliance>.key  miqsp-key.key
# mv https_<miq-appliance>.cert miqsp-cert.cert
# mv https_<miq-appliance>.xml  miqsp-metadata.xml

With the service provider metadata.xml file generated, the Service Provider definition can now be defined in the Identity Provider.

For KeyCloak, a Realm can be created for one or more Appliances with individual Clients defined one per Appliance where the Client ID is essentially the URL of the appliance.

Adding a Client in the KeyCloak ManageIQ Realm:

  • Select and Import the miqsp-metadata.xml file created for mod_auth_mellon.

  • Set Client ID as https://<miq-appliance>

  • Set Client protocol as saml.

The Client definition for the appliance can then be updated with the following:

Setting Value
Name ID Format username
Valid Redirect URIs https://<miq-appliance/saml2/paosResponse>
Base URL https://<miq-appliance/>
Fine Grain SAML Endpoint Configuration  
Setting Value
Assertion Consumer Service POST Binding URL https://<miq-appliance/saml2/postResponse>
Assertion Consumer Service Redirect Binding URL https://<miq-appliance/saml2/postResponse>
Logout Service Redirect Binding URL https://<miq-appliance/saml2/logout>

The Identity Provider’s Metadata file idp-metadata.xml can then be obtained as follows:

# cd /etc/httpd/saml2
# curl -s -o idp-metadata.xml \

Finally, restart Apache on the appliance as follows:

# systemctl restart httpd

SAML Assertions

For authenticating to the appliance, the following remote user parameters are looked at by the appliance upon a successful login and redirect from the Identity Provider.

HTTP Environment SAML Assertion
REMOTE_USER username

For KeyCloak, the above SAML Assertions can be created for the Appliance Client in KeyCloak as Mappers.

Name Mapper Type Property Friendly Name SAML Attribute Name SAML Attribute Name Format
username User Property username username username Basic
email User Property email email email Basic
firstname User Property firstName firstname firstname Basic
lastname User Property lastName lastname lastname Basic
Name Mapper Type User Attribute Friendly Name SAML Attribute Name SAML Attribute Name Format
fullname User Attribute fullName fullname fullname Basic
Name Mapper Type Group attribute name Friendly Name SAML Attribute Name SAML Attribute Name Format
groups Group List groups groups groups Basic

Note: The fullName attribute was not available in the default database as of this writing and must be added to each user as a user attribute.

Configure Administrative UI

After having configured Apache for SAML, the next step is to update the Appliance Administrative UI to be SAML aware and function accordingly.

Login as admin, then in Configure→Configuration→Authentication

  • Set mode to External (httpd)

  • Check: Enable Single Signon - With this option enabled, initial access to the Appliance Administrative UI will redirect to the SAML Identity Provider authentication screen. Note that logouts from the Appliance will return the user to the Appliance login screen allowing them to login as admin unless Disable Local Login is checked below.

  • Check: provider Type: _Enable SAML - This enables the SAML login button on the login screen, the redirects to the SAML protected page for authentication, and supports the SAML logout process.

  • Optional: Check: Disable Local Login - Do this only if you need to disable admin login to appliance and only allow SAML based authentication. Note that if there are issues with the Identity Provider or you need admin access to the appliance you won’t be able to login until you re-enable the Local Login as described below.

  • Check: Get User Groups from External Authentication (httpd)

  • Click Save.

The above steps need to be done on each UI enabled appliance.

in Configure→Configuration→Access Control

  • Make sure the user’s groups are created on the Appliance and appropriate roles assigned to those groups.

Re-Enabling Local Login

If the Local Login has been disabled in the Administrative UI and there is a need to be able to login as admin, the Local Login can be re-enabled as follows:

Administrative UI:

This option is available if the Identity Provider is available and one can login using a user with enough administrative privileges to update it:

  • Login as administrative user,

  • In then in Configure→Configuration→Authentication uncheck Disable Local Login and save.

Appliance Console Interface:

  • ssh to the appliance as root

  • Run appliance_console

  • Select menu entry Update External Authentication Options

  • Select Enable Local Login

  • then Apply updates

Appliance Console CLI:

  • ssh to the appliance as root

  • Run appliance_console_cli –extauth-opts local_login_disabled=false

Configuring SAML using the CLI

Another way to configure SAML on the appliance is to use the appliance console CLI instead of the above steps. The --saml-config subcommand of the appliance console CLI allows one to configure the appliance for SAML Authentication by updating both Apache configurations as well as the necessary Administrative UI settings. The --saml-unconfig subcommand is also provided for unconfiguring the appliance SAML Authentication and reverting the appliance to Database Authentication.

Usage of the new Appliance Console CLI subcommands are as follows:

Configure SAML

To configure the appliance for SAML Authentication:

# appliance_console_cli --saml-config [--saml-client-host=miq_appliance.fqdn] \
                                       --saml-idp-metadata=file|url           \

When –saml-client-host is not specified, the configured appliance host is used for creating the SP metadata. This host fqdn must be reachable from the SAML IDP.

Configuring SAML requires the IDP metadata file. The –saml-idp-metadata option allows the user to specify the file path of a copy that was downloaded to the appliance or by a URL, in which case the CLI downloads the copy from the IDP.




In both cases, the IDP metadata file is copied to /etc/httpd/saml2/idp-metadata.xml

By default, SSO is not enabled, so from the Appliance login page, the user clicks on Log In to Corporate System to get redirected to the SAML login page. With this option enabled, the Appliance redirects the user to the SAML login page for logging in.

After SAML is configured, the SP metadata file can be fetched from /etc/httpd/saml2/miqsp-metadata.xml to create the related Client on the SAML IDP.

Unconfigure SAML

To unconfigure the appliance from SAML Authentication and revert to Database authentication:

# appliance_console_cli --saml-unconfig

This will remove the Apache external authentication SAML configuration files and revert the appliance’s authentication settings to Database mode.