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SAML metadata published by RENATER

RENATER publishes SAML metadata files associated to its federated identities infrastructure. These metadata files gather technical informations about identity providers (IdP) and service providers (SP) registered with RENATER through the federation registry.

If you run an SP or an IdP registered with RENATER, then informations about service must appear in these metadata files; you will also need to configure your software to load these metadata.

IMPORTANT : metadata evolution

From 2016-10-03 metadata files used so far evolve to increase their reliability. Before 2017-12-15 you must update your software configuration to load the new metadata files.

What changes:

  • The metadata URL changes
    • ⇒ You must update your SP/IdP configuration : see §4.1
  • For production federations, different versions of the metadata files are proposed; each with different update frequency.
    • ⇒ You have to choose a metadata version, depending on the type of SAML entity you manage and the federation it belongs to: see §4.2
  • Metadata are signed with a new hash algorithm (SHA256)
    • ⇒ You need to download a new x.509 certificate : see §2.2
    • ⇒ You need to configure you SP/IdP to use this new certificate for metadata signature validation : see §4.1
  • An history of past metadata versions is now available in a subdirectory called “history”.

This document provides all usefull informations to take this evolution into account.

1. Federations and metadata

RENATER manages different circles of trust and publishes metadata files each of these federations:

  • Féderation Éducation-Recherche : production environment for the French education and research community;
  • EduGAIN interfederation (more information) : production environment for the international education and research community. Metadata are published by GEANT, operator of eduGAIN;
  • Local federations (more information in French): production environments for groups of institutions. Metadata URL for these local federations are not public;
  • Test federation (more information) : test environment for education and research institutions.

CRU accounts service is an additional authentication service provided by RENATER. This identity provider is not part of the production federation, but you can download its SAML metadata.

2. Metadata publication

Metadata files are updated automatically, based on data collected through our federation registry. This process validates the SAML metadata format, potential aggregation (eduGAIN case) and XML signing of metadata files.

Metadata updates occur at different frequencies, depending on the file version used, see the metadata versions description below.

Published SAML metadata have a validity period of 9 days. After the period your SP/IdP will probably not be able to use its local copy of the metadata file.

2.1 New metadata files

New metadata files get published in different versions, corresponding to a maturation process from preview to intermediate then main.

This metadata maturation process applies to all production federations (Fédération Éducation-Recherche, eduGain and local federations. However it does not apply to Test federation for which only the preview version is published

The current versions of new metadata files related to each federation are summarized in the table below :

Federation Metadata URL Propagation delay after an update on the Federation Registry
Fédération Éducation-Recherche Main:
At most 1 day and 30 minutes later
EduGAIN federation Main:
At most 1 day and 30 minutes later
Local federation Main:
URL not public
At most 1 day and 30 minutes later
Test federation Preview:
At most 30 minutes later

For production federations, RENATER publishes other versions of metadata files, updated more frequently (see table below)
Federation Metadata URL Propagation delay after an update on the Federation Registry
Fédération Éducation-Recherche Preview:
At most 30 minutes later

- At most 6 hours and 30 minutes later for an update done through the registry before 1.30PM
- At most 18 hours and 30 minutes later for an update done through the registry after 1.30PM
EduGAIN federation Preview:
At most 30 minutes later

- At most 6 hours and 30 minutes later for an update done through the registry before 1.30PM
- At most 18 hours and 30 minutes later for an update done through the registry after 1.30PM
Local federation Preview:
URL not public
At most 30 minutes later

- At most 6 hours and 30 minutes later for an update done through the registry before 1.30PM
- At most 18 hours and 30 minutes later for an update done through the registry after 1.30PM

The different versions of metadata files are described more in details on this dedicated page

For metadata signature validation, you MUST download the new X509 certificate from the following url :

$ /usr/bin/curl -O 
$ /usr/bin/openssl x509 -sha256 -noout -fingerprint -in renater-metadata-signing-cert-2016.pem
SHA256 Fingerprint=6B:D3:5F:7A:B1:64:EC:79:03:0D:36:97:BA:40:BD:23:5D:AA:DA:C0:43:47:C6:E5:3E:B7:72:A7:74:2C:16:5F

2.3 Old metadata files

Caution: after 2017-02-01 RENATER will no more provide old metadata files. Therefore you must plan configuration updates of your SP/IdP to load the new metadata files.

As a reminder, old metadata files and the related certificate are given below :

Old metadata files :
Fédération Éducation-Recherche : idps-renater-metadata.xml, sps-renater-metadata.xml and renater-metadata.xml
EduGAIN federation: idps-edugain-metadata.xml, sps-edugain-metadata.xml and idps-edugain+renater+sac-metadata.xml
Test federation: renater-test-metadata.xml

X.509 certificate to validate old metadata files signature:

3. Registration in SAML metadata

SAML metadata are build with technical informations provided by SP/IdP administrators via our federation registry. Registering an SP/IdP in a production federation and updating some technical informations require validation by federation contacts designated by your organization.

Access to the federation registry requires prior authentication. If you (don't yet) have your home identity provider registered in Fédération Éducation-Recherche, you need to create your CRU account beforehand.

4. Loading SAML metadata

To make your IdP/SP work with third-party SAML entities registered in a federation you need to configure your software to regularly load that federation SAML metadata file. We recommend that SP/IdPs reload metadata files every hour. This setup garanties that you will quickly benefit from any urgent metadata update by RENATER (even though the usual publication period of that file might by daily only).

Firewall/proxy setup: note that IP address of the server may change, without notice from RENATER. We therefore recommend that you define ACLs based on the server hostname, not based on its IP address.

4.1 Examples of setup for Shibboleth software

Examples below describe how to load metadata for the Fédération Éducation-Recherche. You should adapt them for other federations.

For Shibboleth IdP 3.x :

<MetadataProvider id="RenaterMetadata"
  <MetadataFilter xsi:type="SignatureValidation"

For Shibboleth IdP 2.x :

<metadata:MetadataProvider id="RENATER" xsi:type="metadata:FileBackedHTTPMetadataProvider"
     <metadata:MetadataFilter xsi:type="metadata:SignatureValidation"
                    requireSignedMetadata="true" />
<!-- Trust engine used to evaluate the signature on loaded metadata. -->
<security:TrustEngine id="shibboleth.MetadataTrustEngine" xsi:type="security:StaticExplicitKeySignature">
  <security:Credential id="TestCredentials" xsi:type="security:X509Filesystem">

For Shibboleth SP 2.x :

<MetadataProvider type="XML" uri=""
              backingFilePath="main-idps-renater-metadata.xml" reloadInterval="3600">
   <MetadataFilter type="Signature" certificate="renater-metadata-signing-cert-2016.pem"/>

4.2 Which metadata file(s) should I load?

Depending on the type of SAML entity you manage and the federation it belongs to, you have to load different metadata files :

If you run an IdP:

registered in use this file
Test federation preview-sps-renater-test-metadata.xml
Fédération Éducation-Recherche and eduGAIN (*) main-sps-renater-metadata.xml AND main-sps-edugain-metadata.xml

(*) : by default IdPs registered in Fédération Éducation-Recherche also get registered in eduGAIN interfederation, unless they decide to get removed from eduGAIN (l'OPT-OUT principle). This behavior requires that reciprocally a French IdP loads SAML metadata with all SPs registered in eduGAIN. See this documentation for IdPs participating in eduGAIN (in French only).

If you run a SP :

registered in use this file
Test federation preview-idps-renater-test-metadata.xml
Fédération Éducation-Recherche main-idps-renater-metadata.xml
eduGAIN federation main-idps-renater-metadata.xml AND main-idps-edugain-metadata.xml

If you run a DS (WAYF) :

registered in use this file
Test federation preview-all-renater-test-metadata.xml
Fédération Éducation-Recherche main-all-renater-metadata.xml
eduGAIN federation main-all-edugain+renater+sac-metadata.xml

4.3 My SP/IdP can't load SAML metadata

If don't use a SAML implementation supported by RENATER (Shibboleth and SWITCH WAYF), we recommend beforehand that you check your SAML implementation is interoperable with our SAML2 metadata format through our test federation. If you meet interoperability problems, you should report them to that implementation's developers and possibly to RENATER.

If you use Shibboleth or SWITCH WAYF, report us the problem you are facing. Shibboleth software keeps a local copy of metadata files that will be used, if you are unable to get a fresh version of the metadata files. That local version of metadata file may be used during 9 days.

The signature validation process of SAML metadata files published by RENATER uses the SHA-256 hash algorithm. This algorithm is handled by OpenSSL 0.9.8 (and later versions) and Java 4 (and later versions). If your SAML implementation is not able to validation the SAML metadata signature, you should check the version of the OpenSSL library you are using and possibly contact the support service of your SAML software. See the relevant documentation for Shibboleth: Shibboleth IdP signature interoperability issues.

We publish an history of past metadata versions for production federations. These historized versions may be found in each federation's history subdirectory.

Example for the Fédération Éducation-Recherche :
If needed you can compare versions of metadata files or load an old version of a metadata file.