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SimpleSAMLphp Maintenance

Table of Contents

1 SimpleSAMLphp news and documentation

This document is part of the SimpleSAMLphp documentation suite.

2 Session management

SimpleSAMLphp has an abstraction layer for session management. That means it is possible to choose between different kind of session stores, as well as write new session store plugins.

The store.type configuration option in config.php allows you to select which method SimpleSAMLphp should use to store the session information. Currently, three session handlers are included in the distribution:

2.1 Configuring PHP sessions

To use the PHP session handler, set the store.type configuration option in config.php:

'store.type' => 'phpsession',

Keep in mind that PHP does not allow two sessions to be open at the same time. This means if you are using PHP sessions both in your application and in SimpleSAMLphp at the same time, they need to have different names. When using the PHP session handler in SimpleSAMLphp, it is configured with different options than for other session handlers:

'session.phpsession.cookiename' => null,
'session.phpsession.savepath' => null,
'session.phpsession.httponly' => true,

Make sure to set session.phpsession.cookiename to a name different than the one in use by any other applications. If you are using SimpleSAMLphp as an Identity Provider, or any other applications using it are not using the default session name, you can use the default settings by leaving these options unset or setting them to null.

If you need to restore your session's application after calling SimpleSAMLphp, you can do it by calling the cleanup() method of the SimpleSAML_Session class, like described here.

2.2 Configuring memcache

To use the memcache session handler, set the store.type parameter in config.php:

'store.type' => 'memcache',

memcache allows you to store multiple redundant copies of sessions on different memcache servers.

The configuration parameter memcache_store.servers is an array of server groups. Every data item will be mirrored in every server group.

Each server group is an array of servers. The data items will be load-balanced between all servers in each server group.

Each server is an array of parameters for the server. The following options are available:

hostname

Host name or ip address where the memcache server runs, or specify other transports like unix:///path/ssp.sock to use UNIX domain sockets. In that case, port will be ignored and forced to 0.

This is the only required option.

port

Port number of the memcache server. If not set, the memcache.default_port ini setting is used. This is 11211 by default.

The port will be forced to 0 when a UNIX domain socket is specified in hostname.

weight
Weight of this server in this server group. http://php.net/manual/en/function.Memcache-addServer.php has more information about the weight option.
timeout
Timeout for this server. By default, the timeout is 3 seconds.

Here are two examples of configuration of memcache session handling:

Example 1. Example of redundant configuration with load balancing

Example of redundant configuration with load balancing: This configuration makes it possible to lose both servers in the a-group or both servers in the b-group without losing any sessions. Note that sessions will be lost if one server is lost from both the a-group and the b-group.

'memcache_store.servers' => array(
  array(
    array('hostname' => 'mc_a1'),
    array('hostname' => 'mc_a2'),
  ),
  array(
    array('hostname' => 'mc_b1'),
    array('hostname' => 'mc_b2'),
  ),
),

Example 2. Example of simple configuration with only one memcache server

Example of simple configuration with only one memcache server, running on the same computer as the web server: Note that all sessions will be lost if the memcache server crashes.

'memcache_store.servers' => array(
  array(
    array('hostname' => 'localhost'),
  ),
),

The expiration value (memcache_store.expires) is the duration for which data should be retained in memcache. Data are dropped from the memcache servers when this time expires. The time will be reset every time the data is written to the memcache servers.

This value should always be larger than the session.duration option. Not doing this may result in the session being deleted from the memcache servers while it is still in use.

Set this value to 0 if you don't want data to expire.

2.2.1 Note

The oldest data will always be deleted if the memcache server runs out of storage space.

Example 3. Example of configuration setting for session expiration

Here is an example of this configuration parameter:

'memcache_store.expires' =>  36 * (60*60), // 36 hours.

2.2.2 Memcache PHP configuration

Configure memcache to not do internal failover. This parameter is configured in php.ini.

memcache.allow_failover = Off

2.2.3 Environmental configuration

Setup a firewall restricting access to the memcache server.

Because SimpleSAMLphp uses a timestamp to check which session is most recent in a fail-over setup, it is very important to run synchronized clocks on all web servers where you run SimpleSAMLphp.

2.3 Configuring SQL storage

To store session to a SQL database, set the store.type option to sql. SimpleSAMLphp uses PDO when accessing the database server, so the database source is configured as with a DSN. The DSN is stored in the store.sql.dsn option. See the PDO driver manual for the DSN syntax used by the different databases. Username and password for accessing the database can be configured in the store.sql.username and store.sql.password options.

The required tables are created automatically. If you are storing data from multiple separate SimpleSAMLphp installations in the same database, you can use the store.sql.prefix option to prevent conflicts.

3 Logging and statistics

SimpleSAMLphp supports standard syslog logging. As an alternative, you may log to flat files.

4 Apache configuration

Basic Apache configruation is described in SimpleSAMLphp Installation. However, your IdP or SP is most likely a valuable website that you want to configure securely. Here are some checks.

5 PHP configuration

Secure cookies (if you run HTTPS).

Turn off PHPSESSID in query string.

6 Getting ready for production

Here are some checkpoints

  1. Remove all entities in metadata files that you do not trust. It is easy to forget about some of the entities that were used for test.
  2. If you during testing have been using a certificate that has been exposed (notably: the one found in the SimpleSAMLphp distribution): Obtain and install a new one.
  3. Make sure you have installed the latest security upgrades for your OS.
  4. Make sure to use HTTPS rather than HTTP.
  5. Block access to your servers on anything except port 443. SimpleSAMLphp only uses plain HTTP(S), so there is no need to open ports for SOAP or other communication.

7 Error handling, error reporting and metadata reporting

SimpleSAMLphp supports allowing the user when encountering errors to send an e-mail to the administrator. You can turn off this feature in the config.php file.

8 Multi-language support

To add support for a new language, add your new language to the language.available configuration parameter in config.php:

/*
 * Languages available and which language is default
 */
'language.available' => array('en', 'no', 'da', 'es', 'xx'),
'language.default'   => 'en',

Please use the standardized two-character language codes as specified in ISO-639-1.

You also can set the default language. You should ensure that the default language is complete, as it is used as a fallback when a text is not available in the language selected by the user.

Translation of SimpleSAMLphp is done through the SimpleSAMLphp translation portal. To translate SimpleSAMLphp to a new language, please contact the authors at the mailing list, and the new language may be added to the translation portal.

All strings that can be localized are found in the files dictionaries/. Add a new entry for each string, with your language code, like this:

'user_pass_header' => array(
    'en' => 'Enter your username and password',
    'no' => 'Skriv inn brukernavn og passord',
    'xx' => 'Pooa jujjique jamba',
  ),

You can translate as many of the texts as you would like; a full translation is not required unless you want to make this the default language. From the end users point of view, it looks best if all text fragments used in a given screen or form is in one single language.

9 Customizing the web frontend with themes

Documentation on theming is moved to a separate document.

10 Support

If you need help to make this work, or want to discuss SimpleSAMLphp with other users of the software, you are fortunate: Around SimpleSAMLphp there is a great Open source community, and you are welcome to join! The forums are open for you to ask questions, contribute answers other further questions, request improvements or contribute with code or plugins of your own.