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.. _howto-auth-remote-user:
Authentication using ``REMOTE_USER``
.. currentmodule:: django.contrib.backends
This document describes how to make use of external authentication sources
(where the Web server sets the ``REMOTE_USER`` environment variable) in your
Django applications. This type of authentication solution is typically seen on
intranet sites, with single sign-on solutions such as IIS and Integrated
Windows Authentication or Apache and `mod_authnz_ldap`_, `CAS`_, `Cosign`_,
`WebAuth`_, `mod_auth_sspi`_, etc.
.. _mod_authnz_ldap:
.. _CAS:
.. _Cosign:
.. _WebAuth:
.. _mod_auth_sspi:
When the Web server takes care of authentication it typically sets the
``REMOTE_USER`` environment variable for use in the underlying application. In
Django, ``REMOTE_USER`` is made available in the :attr:`request.META
<django.http.HttpRequest.META>` attribute. Django can be configured to make
use of the ``REMOTE_USER`` value using the ``RemoteUserMiddleware`` and
``RemoteUserBackend`` classes found in :mod:`django.contrib.auth`.
First, you must add the
:class:`django.contrib.auth.middleware.RemoteUserMiddleware` to the
:setting:`MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES` setting **after** the
Next, you must replace the :class:`~django.contrib.auth.backends.ModelBackend`
with ``RemoteUserBackend`` in the :setting:`AUTHENTICATION_BACKENDS` setting::
With this setup, ``RemoteUserMiddleware`` will detect the username in
``request.META['REMOTE_USER']`` and will authenticate and auto-login that user
using the ``RemoteUserBackend``.
.. note::
Since the ``RemoteUserBackend`` inherits from ``ModelBackend``, you will
still have all of the same permissions checking that is implemented in
If your authentication mechanism uses a custom HTTP header and not
``REMOTE_USER``, you can subclass ``RemoteUserMiddleware`` and set the
``header`` attribute to the desired ``request.META`` key. For example::
from django.contrib.auth.middleware import RemoteUserMiddleware
class CustomHeaderMiddleware(RemoteUserMiddleware):
header = 'HTTP_AUTHUSER'
.. class:: django.contrib.backends.RemoteUserBackend
If you need more control, you can create your own authentication backend
that inherits from ``RemoteUserBackend`` and overrides certain parts:
.. attribute:: RemoteUserBackend.create_unknown_user
``True`` or ``False``. Determines whether or not a
:class:`~django.contrib.auth.models.User` object is created if not already
in the database. Defaults to ``True``.
.. method:: RemoteUserBackend.clean_username(username)
Performs any cleaning on the ``username`` (e.g. stripping LDAP DN
information) prior to using it to get or create a
:class:`~django.contrib.auth.models.User` object. Returns the cleaned
.. method:: RemoteUserBackend.configure_user(user)
Configures a newly created user. This method is called immediately after a
new user is created, and can be used to perform custom setup actions, such
as setting the user's groups based on attributes in an LDAP directory.
Returns the user object.
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