SSO Discourse Application to allow SAML authentication
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Discourse SSO application

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Discourse SSO application implements the SSO protocol requested by discourse forum application. The real authentication is performed by the web server running the application which is responsible of verify the requests coming from discourse and prepare the token to send back after the authentication.


DiscourseSSO application can execute in any web server supporting python code. However it has been tested only with apache httpd server using mod_wsgi and these are described in the installation section.

The authentication has to be performed by the web server and this require an additional module. The module has to provide the user information the in application environment. This is the case with many modules like mod_shibboleth for SAML described in the installation.


For the installation we consider Discourse container has been installed in the server and work properly with local accounts.

Prepare the server where DiscourseSSO has to be deployed. The server could be the same of the Discourse server using the same nginx to execute the sso code or an additional apache httpd server taking care of not create conflict with the ports.

The installation of httpd server has to include mod_wsgi to execute the code, mod_ssl to have the authentication over https and mod_shib (or equivalent) to implement the authentication.

After the installation of all modules httpd has to be configured to work on the ssl port. If mod_ssl comes with your distribution it should include the basic configuration, otherwise have a look at the apache httpd documentation for your specific version. The standard http port 80 will not be used so it could be disabled.

The next step is to configure mod_shib in order to allow the authentication using saml (for details on mod_shib configuration look at the official wiki).

When the server is properly configured download/clone the DiscourseSSO package from GitHub in a directory accessible by apache. Configure mod_wsgi to include the source code of the package and add the DiscourseSSO.wsgi script to the location to use for Discourse. Finally, shibboleth has to protect the authentication directory so the user has to go to the IdP in order be accepted. The configuration should look like:

WSGIDaemonProcess discourse threads=5 python-path=<path-to-discourse>/DiscourseSSO/src
WSGIScriptAlias /DiscourseSSO /var/www/DiscourseSSO/DiscourseSSO.wsgi
WSGISocketPrefix /var/run/wsgi
<Directory /var/www/DiscourseSSO>
    WSGIProcessGroup discourse
    WSGIApplicationGroup %{GLOBAL}
    Order deny,allow
    Allow from all
<Location /DiscourseSSO/sso/auth>
    AuthType shibboleth
    ShibCompatWith24 On
    ShibRequestSetting requireSession 1
    require shib-session

Finally, both Discourse and DiscourseSSO need to be configured. Enable the sso in Discourse following the official documentation. The sso url to is the one going to your DiscourseSSO installation plus sso/login, so using the above configuration the url is https://<your-domain>/DisocurseSSO/sso/login.

The sso_secret is a random string and has to be the same in both services. The configuration file of DiscourseSSO is src/discoruseSSO/ and it require the secret key (DISCOURSE_SECRET_KEY), the url of Discourse (DISCOURSE_URL) and the name of the environment variables where mod_shib will provide the user information(DISCOURSE_USER_MAP). This is a map where the key is the attribute provided back to Discourse whereas the values are the name of the variables to lookup. The name can be generated combining different values but the other accept only one value. Default are good for a SAML based authentication but for other authentication mechanism you have to modify them accordingly.

After the configuration restart the apache httpd daemon and enable the sso in Discourse.