Authentication setup

Users can be authenticated in different ways. By default, Kallithea uses its internal user database. Alternative authentication methods include LDAP, PAM, Crowd, and container-based authentication.

LDAP Authentication

Kallithea supports LDAP authentication. In order to use LDAP, you have to install the python-ldap package. This package is available via PyPI, so you can install it by running:

pip install python-ldap


python-ldap requires some libraries to be installed on your system, so before installing it check that you have at least the openldap and sasl libraries.

Choose Admin > Authentication, click the kallithea.lib.auth_modules.auth_ldap button and then Save, to enable the LDAP plugin and configure its settings.

Here’s a typical LDAP setup:

Connection settings
Enable LDAP          = checked
Host                 =
Account              = <account>
Password             = <password>
Connection Security  = LDAPS
Certificate Checks   = DEMAND

Search settings
Base DN              = CN=users,DC=host,DC=example,DC=org
LDAP Filter          = (&(objectClass=user)(!(objectClass=computer)))
LDAP Search Scope    = SUBTREE

Attribute mappings
Login Attribute      = uid
First Name Attribute = firstName
Last Name Attribute  = lastName
Email Attribute      = mail

If your user groups are placed in an Organisation Unit (OU) structure, the Search Settings configuration differs:

Search settings
Base DN              = DC=host,DC=example,DC=org
LDAP Filter          = (&(memberOf=CN=your user group,OU=subunit,OU=unit,DC=host,DC=example,DC=org)(objectClass=user))
LDAP Search Scope    = SUBTREE
Enable LDAP : required
Whether to use LDAP for authenticating users.
Host : required
LDAP server hostname or IP address. Can be also a comma separated list of servers to support LDAP fail-over.
Port : optional
Defaults to 389 for PLAIN un-encrypted LDAP and START_TLS. Defaults to 636 for LDAPS.
Account : optional
Only required if the LDAP server does not allow anonymous browsing of records. This should be a special account for record browsing. This will require LDAP Password below.
Password : optional
Only required if the LDAP server does not allow anonymous browsing of records.
Connection Security : required

Defines the connection to LDAP server

Plain unencrypted LDAP connection. This will by default use Port 389.
Use secure LDAPS connections according to Certificate Checks configuration. This will by default use Port 636.
Use START TLS according to Certificate Checks configuration on an apparently “plain” LDAP connection. This will by default use Port 389.
Certificate Checks : optional

How SSL certificates verification is handled – this is only useful when Enable LDAPS is enabled. Only DEMAND or HARD offer full SSL security with mandatory certificate validation, while the other options are susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks.

A serve certificate will never be requested or checked.
A server certificate is requested. Failure to provide a certificate or providing a bad certificate will not terminate the session.
A server certificate is requested. Failure to provide a certificate does not halt the session; providing a bad certificate halts the session.
A server certificate is requested and must be provided and authenticated for the session to proceed.
The same as DEMAND.
Custom CA Certificates : optional
Directory used by OpenSSL to find CAs for validating the LDAP server certificate. Python 2.7.10 and later default to using the system certificate store, and this should thus not be necessary when using certificates signed by a CA trusted by the system. It can be set to something like /etc/openldap/cacerts on older systems or if using self-signed certificates.
Base DN : required
The Distinguished Name (DN) where searches for users will be performed. Searches can be controlled by LDAP Filter and LDAP Search Scope.
LDAP Filter : optional
A LDAP filter defined by RFC 2254. This is more useful when LDAP Search Scope is set to SUBTREE. The filter is useful for limiting which LDAP objects are identified as representing Users for authentication. The filter is augmented by Login Attribute below. This can commonly be left blank.
LDAP Search Scope : required

This limits how far LDAP will search for a matching object.

Only allows searching of Base DN and is usually not what you want.
Searches all entries under Base DN, but not Base DN itself.
Searches all entries below Base DN, but not Base DN itself. When using SUBTREE LDAP Filter is useful to limit object location.
Login Attribute : required

The LDAP record attribute that will be matched as the USERNAME or ACCOUNT used to connect to Kallithea. This will be added to LDAP Filter for locating the User object. If LDAP Filter is specified as “LDAPFILTER”, Login Attribute is specified as “uid” and the user has connected as “jsmith” then the LDAP Filter will be augmented as below

First Name Attribute : required
The LDAP record attribute which represents the user’s first name.
Last Name Attribute : required
The LDAP record attribute which represents the user’s last name.
Email Attribute : required
The LDAP record attribute which represents the user’s email address.

If all data are entered correctly, and python-ldap is properly installed users should be granted access to Kallithea with LDAP accounts. At this time user information is copied from LDAP into the Kallithea user database. This means that updates of an LDAP user object may not be reflected as a user update in Kallithea.

If You have problems with LDAP access and believe You entered correct information check out the Kallithea logs, any error messages sent from LDAP will be saved there.

Active Directory

Kallithea can use Microsoft Active Directory for user authentication. This is done through an LDAP or LDAPS connection to Active Directory. The following LDAP configuration settings are typical for using Active Directory

Base DN              = OU=SBSUsers,OU=Users,OU=MyBusiness,DC=v3sys,DC=local
Login Attribute      = sAMAccountName
First Name Attribute = givenName
Last Name Attribute  = sn
Email Attribute     = mail

All other LDAP settings will likely be site-specific and should be appropriately configured.

Authentication by container or reverse-proxy

Kallithea supports delegating the authentication of users to its WSGI container, or to a reverse-proxy server through which all clients access the application.

When these authentication methods are enabled in Kallithea, it uses the username that the container/proxy (Apache or Nginx, etc.) provides and doesn’t perform the authentication itself. The authorization, however, is still done by Kallithea according to its settings.

When a user logs in for the first time using these authentication methods, a matching user account is created in Kallithea with default permissions. An administrator can then modify it using Kallithea’s admin interface.

It’s also possible for an administrator to create accounts and configure their permissions before the user logs in for the first time, using the create_user API.

Container-based authentication

In a container-based authentication setup, Kallithea reads the user name from the REMOTE_USER server variable provided by the WSGI container.

After setting up your container (see Apache with mod_wsgi), you’ll need to configure it to require authentication on the location configured for Kallithea.

Proxy pass-through authentication

In a proxy pass-through authentication setup, Kallithea reads the user name from the X-Forwarded-User request header, which should be configured to be sent by the reverse-proxy server.

After setting up your proxy solution (see Apache virtual host reverse proxy example, Apache as subdirectory or Nginx virtual host example), you’ll need to configure the authentication and add the username in a request header named X-Forwarded-User.

For example, the following config section for Apache sets a subdirectory in a reverse-proxy setup with basic auth:

<Location /someprefix>
  SetEnvIf X-Url-Scheme https HTTPS=1

  AuthType Basic
  AuthName "Kallithea authentication"
  AuthUserFile /srv/kallithea/.htpasswd
  Require valid-user

  RequestHeader unset X-Forwarded-User

  RewriteEngine On
  RewriteCond %{LA-U:REMOTE_USER} (.+)
  RewriteRule .* - [E=RU:%1]
  RequestHeader set X-Forwarded-User %{RU}e

Setting metadata in container/reverse-proxy

When a new user account is created on the first login, Kallithea has no information about the user’s email and full name. So you can set some additional request headers like in the example below. In this example the user is authenticated via Kerberos and an Apache mod_python fixup handler is used to get the user information from a LDAP server. But you could set the request headers however you want.

<Location /someprefix>
  SetEnvIf X-Url-Scheme https HTTPS=1

  AuthName "Kerberos Login"
  AuthType Kerberos
  Krb5Keytab /etc/apache2/http.keytab
  KrbMethodK5Passwd off
  KrbVerifyKDC on
  Require valid-user

  PythonFixupHandler ldapmetadata

  RequestHeader set X_REMOTE_USER %{X_REMOTE_USER}e
  RequestHeader set X_REMOTE_EMAIL %{X_REMOTE_EMAIL}e
from mod_python import apache
import ldap

LDAP_SERVER = "ldaps://"
LDAP_ROOT = "dc=mydomain,dc=com"
LDAP_FILTER = "sAMAccountName=%s"
LDAP_ATTR_LIST = ['sAMAccountName','givenname','sn','mail']

def fixuphandler(req):
    if req.user is None:
        # no user to search for
        return apache.OK
            if('\\' in req.user):
                username = req.user.split('\\')[1]
            elif('@' in req.user):
                username = req.user.split('@')[0]
                username = req.user
            l = ldap.initialize(LDAP_SERVER)
            l.simple_bind_s(LDAP_USER, LDAP_PASS)
            r = l.search_s(LDAP_ROOT, ldap.SCOPE_SUBTREE, LDAP_FILTER % username, attrlist=LDAP_ATTR_LIST)

            req.subprocess_env['X_REMOTE_USER'] = username
            req.subprocess_env['X_REMOTE_EMAIL'] = r[0][1]['mail'][0].lower()
            req.subprocess_env['X_REMOTE_FIRSTNAME'] = "%s" % r[0][1]['givenname'][0]
            req.subprocess_env['X_REMOTE_LASTNAME'] = "%s" % r[0][1]['sn'][0]
        except Exception, e:
            apache.log_error("error getting data from ldap %s" % str(e), apache.APLOG_ERR)

        return apache.OK


If you enable proxy pass-through authentication, make sure your server is only accessible through the proxy. Otherwise, any client would be able to forge the authentication header and could effectively become authenticated using any account of their liking.