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Lightweight SAML Identity Provider
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LITE-IDP is a lightweight SAML 2.0 Identity Provider and Service Provider library written in Go. The project’s goal is to create an IdP that is easier to configure and extend than Shibboleth’s IdP.


The initial implementation of SAML 2 protocols was completed in 2015. However, the project lacked an extensible configuration mechanism. It was converted to use Cobra and Viper in September 2017 and is now easy to use and customize.

Identity Provider

The identity provider has the following features.

  • HTTP Redirect Binding

  • HTTP POST Binding - responses only not for requests

  • HTTP Artifact Binding

  • Reverse SOAP (PAOS) binding

  • SAML Metadata Generation

  • SAML Attribute Query

  • X.509 Certificate Authentication

  • Username/Password Authentication

It has been successfully tested with the Shibboleth Service Provider.

Service Provider

The service provider library makes it easy to integrate Go applications with SAML identity providers. It supports the following features.

  • HTTP Redirect Binding

  • HTTP Artifact Binding

  • SAML Metadata Generation

The SP will likely never support the HTTP POST binding. I created a XML Digital signature library xmlsig that is capable of signing XML. However, verifying XML signatures is far more challenging, and introduction of C libraries is not desirable. Transport level security can be used with Artifact Binding, but message level verification is required because the SAML assertion is passed from the IdP to SP via the user.

Honestly, I prefer the Artifact Binding as it is very much like an OAuth 2 server side flow.

The SP has been successfully tested with the Shibboleth Identity Provider.

Getting Started

To minimize external dependencies, the default build uses a single file to configure application properties and hold user information.

Build the binary
go get
Sample Configuration file
tls-ca: hack/tls-setup/certs/ca.pem
tls-private-key: hack/tls-setup/certs/idp-key.pem
tls-certificate: hack/tls-setup/certs/idp.pem

 - name: CN=John Doe, OU=lite-idp sample, O=autogenerated, L=the internet # (1)
      - Doe
      - John
      - John Doe
 - name: amdonov
   password: '$2a$10$U41uarKrlduOofvJRC724.7V7RRZOciyC4TZ4UAQUtWuPuKVvByR.' # (2)
      - Donovan
      - Aaron
      - Aaron Donovan
  1. User that will authentication with client certificate.

  2. User that will authenticate with password. Passwords can be hashed with the command lite-idp hash

You can use existing certificates or use the Makefile in hack/tls-setup to generate some.

ECDSA certificates cannot currently be used for signing.
lite-idp serve

By default lite-idp will look for the configuration file at /etc/lite-idp/config.yaml and in the config.yaml in the current directory. In addition to the configuration file, many options can be provided via environment variables.


All aspects of the IdP’s behavior are customizable. It’s controlled through an open struct and viper configuration values. Reasonable defaults make it easy to get running quickly and tailor it over time. The default behavior is shown it the following code.

Section of lite-idp/cmd/root.go
import ""
		idp := &idp.IDP{} // (1)
		handler, err := idp.Handler()
		if err != nil {
			return err
		server := &http.Server{
			TLSConfig: idp.TLSConfig,
			Handler:   handlers.CombinedLoggingHandler(os.Stdout, hsts(handler)),
			Addr:      viper.GetString("listen-address"),
  1. Default IDP struct without configuration

As of version 0.3.0 it’s possible to add lite-idp commands to another cobra based application and customize the IDP struct as well. The cluster command makes use of this feature and can be used as an example.

import lidp ""
   // customization here

One can examine the struct to see integration points. Some key ones are highlighted below.

Password Validation

Many organizations still use username/password for authentication. Validation of user provided passwords is controlled by the IDP’s PasswordValidator. If one isn’t provided it will use a simple one that reads hashed passwords from the configuration file. Developers can use that implementation as example. Viper makes it easy retrieve any required custom parameters from the configuration file.

PasswordValidator interface
type PasswordValidator interface {
	Validate(user, password string) error

User Attributes

The IdP enables retrieval of user attributes from multiple sources through the AttributeSource interface. The IdP will read attributes from the configuration file if no AttributeSources are provided.

AttributeSource interface
type AttributeSource interface {
	AddAttributes(*model.User, *model.AuthnRequest) error

Login Page

The default login page was created using Patternfly’s login template. The hack/ui folder contains a small npm project that packages the HTML, JavaScript, and assets for bundling and inclusion in a go source file with go-bindata-assetfs.


Storing State

The IdP needs to store some state both short term (minutes) and longer term (hours). For example, keeping request information while a user enters data in a login form or maintaining active sessions to enable single-sign on. Both cases are handled through a common interface.

Cache interface
type Cache interface {
	Set(key string, entry []byte) error
	Get(key string) ([]byte, error)
	Delete(key string) error

Data is marshalled to a byte slice using protocol buffers to save space and increase performance. The default implementation uses BigCache. It’s trival to replace this implementation with something like Redis or memcached if desired. The relevant IDP fields are TempCache and UserCache. There is a Redis implementation in store/redis that is used when running in cluster mode.

Clustered Deployments

It’s possible to scale the IdP horizontally and use centralized state and configuration. Viper supports retrieval of configuration information from etcd, and as discussed in Storing State, the IdP can store all state information in external systems. To run a cluster set configure Redis properties and run the cluster command.

Sample Redis configuration section
 address: "redis:6379"
 password: money
Running with Redis cache
lite-idp cluster
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