SAML 2.0 Based SSO with Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) and mod-shib


Before you can setup SAML 2.0 based Single Sign-On with Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) and mod-shib, ask your ADFS admin for the relevant server URLs. These are:

  • The SAML 2.0 single sign-on service URL, e.g., https://<ADFS server FQDN>/ADFS/ls

  • The IdP metadata URL, e.g., https://<ADFS server FQDN>/FederationMetadata/2007-06/FederationMetadata.xml

Then, make sure that the web server is accessible with a trusted certificate:

sudo a2enmod ssl
sudo a2ensite default-ssl
sudo service apache2 restart


Firstly, install mod-shib. You can do this using the following command:

sudo apt-get install libapache2-mod-shib2

This will install packages needed for mod-shib, including shibd. Then, generate certificates for the shibd daemon by running the following command:

sudo shib-keygen

Download and Filter the ADFS Metadata

The metadata provided by ADFS cannot be automatically imported, and must be cleaned up before using it with the file based MetadataProvider. To do so, use adfs2fed.php, as in the following command:

php apps/user_shibboleth/tools/adfs2fed.php \
   https://<ADFS server FQDN>/FederationMetadata/2007-06/FederationMetadata.xml \
   <AD-Domain> > /etc/shibboleth/filtered-metadata.xml

Configure shibd

Next, you need to configure shibd. To do this, in /etc/shibboleth/shibboleth2.xml:

Define the ownCloud Instance

Use the URL of the ownCloud instance as the entityID in the ApplicationDefaults

<ApplicationDefaults entityID="https://<owncloud server FQDN>/login/saml" REMOTE_USER="eppn upn">
https://<owncloud server FQDN>/login/saml is just an example.
Adjust <owncloud server FQDN> to the full qualified domain name of your server.

Configure SSO

Configure the SSO to use the entityID from the filtered-metadata.xml

<SSO entityID="https://<ADFS server FQDN>/<URI>/">
Grab <ADFS server FQDN>/<URI>/ from the filtered-metadata.xml.

Configure XML

Configure an XML MetadataProvider with the local filtered-metadata.xml file

<MetadataProvider type="XML" path="/etc/shibboleth/filtered-metadata.xml"/>

Metadata Available

Under https://<owncloud server FQDN>/Shibboleth.sso/Metadata shibd exposes the metadata that is needed by ADFS to add the SP as a Relying party.

Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS)

This part needs to be done by an ADFS administrator. Let him do his job while you continue with the Apache configuration below.

Add a Relying Party Using Metadata

Configure ADFS to Send the userPrincipalName in the SAML Token

If you have control over ADFS make it send the UPN and Group by adding the following LDAP claim rule:

  • Map User Principal Name to UPN

  • Map Token Groups - Unqualified Names and map it to Group

Change shibd attribute-map.xml to:

<Attributes xmlns="urn:mace:shibboleth:2.0:attribute-map" xmlns:xsi="">
   <Attribute name="" id="upn"/>

That will make the userPrincipalName available as the environment variable upn.


To protect ownCloud with shibboleth you need to protect the URL with a mod-shib based auth. Currently, we recommend protecting only the login page.


When the app is enabled and ownCloud is protected by mod-shib, due to the Apache 2 configuration, you should be forced to authenticate against an ADFS. After a successful authentication you will be redirected to the ownCloud login page, where you can login as the administrator. Double check you have a valid SAML session by browsing to https://<owncloud server FQDN>/Shibboleth.sso/Session.

In the "User Authentication" settings for Shibboleth the upn environment variables will be filled with the authenticated user’s userPrincipalName in the "Server Environment" section.

Use upn as uid and set the app mode to 'SSO Only' by running:

sudo -u www-data ./occ shibboleth:mode ssoonly
sudo -u www-data ./occ shibboleth:mapping -u upn

displayName and email are only relevant for autoprovisioning mode. Add Claims in ADFS and map them in the attribute-map.xml if needed.


  • Close the browser tab to kill the session.

  • Then visit https://<owncloud server FQDN> again.

  • You should be logged in automatically.

  • Close the tab or delete the cookies to log out.

  • To make the logout work see the Logout section in this document.

Configuring SSO

  • On the ADFS Server:

  • Add "Windows Authentication" to the "Service" → "Authentication Methods" for "Intranet"

  • Run the following Powershell script for Firefox:

Save the list of currently supported browser user-agents to a variable

$ browsers=Get-ADFSProperties | Select -ExpandProperty WIASupportedUseragents

Add Mozilla/5.0 user-agent to the list

$ browsers+="Mozilla/5.0"

Apply the new list

$ Set-ADFSProperties -WIASupportedUseragents $browsers

Turn off Extended Protection

$ Set-ADFSProperties –ExtendedProtectionTokenCheck None

Restart the AD FS service

$ Restart-Service ADFSsrv
  • On the Windows client:

  • For Internet Explorer, Edge, and Chrome

  • In the "Internet Settings" → "Security" → "Local Intranet"

  • Click on "Sites"

  • Click on "Advanced"

  • Add your ADFS machine with https://<ADFS server FQDN>/ and click OK.

  • Click on "customize level"

  • Find "User Authentication"

  • Check "Automatic login only for Intranet zone"

  • For Firefox

  • Open "about:config"

  • Accept the warning

  • Search for network.negotiate-auth.trusted-uris and set it to the FQDN of your ADFS server

  • Search for network.automatic-ntlm-auth.trusted-uris and set it to the FQDN of your ADFS server

Now if you logged into the domain and open your ownCloud server in the browser of your choice you should get directly to your ownCloud files without a login.


In /etc/shibboleth/shibd.logger, set the overall behavior to debug:

# set overall behavior
log4j.rootCategory=DEBUG, shibd_log, warn_log

After a restart /var/log/shibbloeth/shibd.log will show the parsed SAML requests and also which claims / attributes were found and mapped, or why not.


  • For Chrome there is a SAML Chrome Panel that allows checking the SAML messages in the developer tools reachable via F12.

  • For Firefox there is SAML tracer

  • In the Network tab of the developer extension make sure that "preserve logs" is enabled in order to see the redirects without wiping the existing network requests


In SAML scenarios the session is held on the SP as well as the IdP. Killing the SP session will redirect you to the IdP where you are still logged in, causing another redirect that creates a new SP session, making logout impossible. Killing only the IdP session will allow you to use the SP session until it expires.

There are multiple ways to deal with this:

  1. By default ownCloud shows a popup telling the user to close the browser tab. That kills the SP session. If the whole browser is closed the IdP may still use a Kerberos-based authentication to provide SSO in effect making logout impossible.

  2. Hide the logout action in the personal menu via CSS. This forces users to log out at the IdP.


In upcoming versions the clients will use OAuth2 to obtain a device specific token to prevent session expiry, making the old /oc-shib/remote.php/nonshib-webdav obsolete