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SAML 2.0 authentication for Django

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SAML 2.0 authentication for Django


You need to have the Python binding for the Lasso library installed, you can find source and package for Debian on

Add mellon to your installed apps:


Add the SAMLBacked to your authentication backends:


Add mellon urls to your urls:

urlpatterns = patterns('',
    url(r'^/accounts/mellon', include('mellon.urls')),

If SAML 2.0 should be your only authentication method you can define mellon_login as you main LOGIN_URL:

LOGIN_URL = 'mellon_login'
LOGOUT_URL = 'mellon_logout'

Yout metadata will be downloadable through HTTP on


If your identity provider ask for your assertion consumer URL it’s on


If your identity provider ask for your logout URL it’s on



After an authentication attributes are stored in the session using a dictionnary, the key is mellon_session. The dictionnary contains:

  • issuer: the EntityID of the identity provider

  • name_id_content: the value of the NameID

  • name_id_format: the format of the NameID

  • authn_instant: the ISO8601 date of the authentication on the identity provider, optional.

  • session_not_on_or_after: the ISO8691 date after which the local session should be closed. Note that we automatically set the expiration of the Django session to this value if it’s available.

  • authn_context_class_ref: the authentication method of the current authentication on the identity provider. You can restrict authorized authentication methods using the setting MELLON_AUTHN_CLASSREF.

  • all attributes extracted from the assertion.


All generic setting apart from MELLON_IDENTITY_PROVIDERS can be overridden in the identity provider settings by removing the MELLON_ prefix.


A list of dictionaries, only one key is mandatory in those dictionaries METADATA it should contain the UTF-8 content of the metadata file of the identity provider or if it starts with a slash the absolute path toward a metadata file. All other keys are override of generic settings.


List of public keys of this service provider, add multiple keys for doing key roll-over


The PKCS#8 PEM encoded private key, if not provided request will not be signed.


Password for the private key if needed, default is None


NameID formats to advertise in the metadata file, default is ().


The NameID format to request, default is None.


Whether to force authentication on each authencation request, default is False.


A list of class providings methods handling SAML authorization, user lookup and provisioning. Optional methods on theses classes are

  • authorize(idp, saml_attributes) -> boolean

    If any adapter returns False, the authentication is refused. It’s possible to raise PermissionDenied to show a specific message on the login interface.

  • lookup_user(idp, saml_attributes) -> User / None

    Each adapter is called in the order of the settings, the first return value which is not None is kept as the authenticated user.

  • provision(user, idp, saml_attributes -> None

    This method is there to fill an existing user fields with data from the SAML attributes or to provision any kind of object in the application.

Settings of the default adapter

The following settings are used by the default adapter mellon.adapters.DefaulAdapter if you use your own adapter you can ignore them. If your adapter inherit from the default adapter those settings can still be applicable.


The default realm to associate to user created with the default adapter, default is ‘saml’.


Whether to create user if their username does not already exists, default is True.


The template to build and/or retrieve a user from its username based on received attributes, the syntax is the one from the str.format() method of Python. Available variables are:

  • realm

  • idp (current setting for the idp issuing the assertion)

  • attributes

The default value is {attributes{name_id_content]}@realm.

Another example could be {atttributes[uid][0]} to set the passed username as the username of the newly created user.


Maps templates based on SAML attributes to field of the user model. Default is {}. To copy standard LDAP attributes into your Django user model could for example do that:

    'email': '{attributes[mail][0]',
    'first_name': '{attributes[gn][0]}',
    'last_name': '{attributes[sn][0]}',


Attributes superuser flags to user if a SAML attribute contains a given value, default is {}. Ex.:

    'roles': 'Admin',


Authorized authentication class references, default is (). Empty value means everything is authorized. Authentication class reference must be obtained from your identity provider but SHOULD come from the SAML 2.0 specification.


Name of the SAML attribute to map to Django group names, default is None. Ex.:



Whether to create group or only assign existing groups, default is True.


URL for the continue link when authentication fails, default is None. If not ERROR_URL is None, the RelayState is used. If there is no RelayState, the LOGIN_REDIRECT_URL, which defaults to /, is used.


Timeout in seconds before automatically redirecting the user to the continue URL when authentication has failed. Default is 120 seconds.

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