Configure SAML2 authentication


This page describes the steps necessary to setup SAML2 authentication on eLabFTW with an IDentity Provider (IDP). It assumes that you already know what we’re talking about.

The IDP can lookup identity on an LDAP directory and deal with two factors authentication.

Setup the Service Provider

The service provider is the elabftw install. Head to the Sysadmin panel, click the SAML tab.

To generate a certificate, you can use this command:

openssl req -newkey rsa:2048 -nodes -keyout private.key -x509 -days 9999 -out cert.crt

Use the content of private.key and cert.crt.

Alternatively you can use this site to generate a self-signed certificate.

Setup the IDentity Provider

Attributes for the IDP

We need to specify where to look in the attributes sent in the response for email, team and name of the user. You can use the FriendlyName or the Name from the table below. Note that this will depend on your IDP and using the SAML Tracer plugin (see below) to see the response will be helpful in determining what fields you want to use.

SAML attributes

















Userid (internal ID)




If you cannot have information about the team, or do not wish to use it, make sure to have the setting “Let user select a team” when the user is created during first login.

Note that the metadata.xml file (accessible at /metadata.php) will contain a section informing the IDP of the requested attributes.

About the Userid / Internal ID

If you configure the uid (Userid/Internal ID) parameter for an IDP, the value will be read from the SAML assertion and:

  • for user creation on the fly, the orgid (Organization ID) field of the user will contain the value of the uid attribute

  • for an existing user logging in, the orgid will not be modified

If you enable “Fallback to internal id if existing user cannot be matched with email”, then the uid will be used to try and match an existing user if, during login, the match could not be done on the email field (user changed email for instance). You can then chose to enable “If user is matched with internal id, update the email sent by IDP?” so that the email sent by the IDP is updated in the local database.

Disable local login/register

Go to the Server tab of the Sysadmin panel. From there you can disable local login (to force SAML auth) and also disable local registration.

How does it work?

When a user successfully logins to the IDP, the email address is looked up. If it doesn’t exist, the user is created. If the team doesn’t exist either, it is created on the fly. You can configure this behavior from the Sysconfig panel.


SAML configuration can be tricky. I recommend that you use the SAML-tracer addon to see the requests and be able to verify what is sent and received.

Looking at the PHP logs will also be helpful to get the complete error message.