Authenticating with the apache plugin mod_auth_mellon and Feide

Highly recommended: turn on debug logging while setting things up!

In /etc/nav/logging.conf in the section [levels], set nav.web.auth to DEBUG. The relevant log to keep an eye on will depend on how apache2 is running NAV, if it’s using uwsgi the file is probably /var/log/uwsgi/nav/nav.log.

Enabling the plugin on Debian

First check if the plugin is already installed and enabled:

$ sudo apache2ctl -M | grep mellon
  auth_mellon_module (shared)

If it is, go straight to `Configuration`_.

If not:

Install the plugin:

$ sudo apt install libapache2-mod-auth-mellon

This should create the following files:


Enable with:

$ sudo a2enmod auth_mellon

Disable with:

$ sudo a2dismod auth_mellon

Files needed

Make a directory /etc/apache2/mellon on the NAV host. This will contain the keys, certificates and metadata.

You need to download the idp metadata.

Save the file as /etc/apache2/mellon/idp-metadata.xml.

The easiest way to create the sp metadata is with the command mellon_create_metadata. Stand in /etc/apache2/mellon and run:

mellon_create_metadata https://DOMAINNAME https://DOMAINNAME/mellon

This will output a summary and create three files: https_DOMAINNAME.cert, https_DOMAINNAME.key and https_DOMAINNAME.xml. You can edit the xml-file if needed.

Feide Kundeportal configuration

You will need to ask somebody with the correct access-rights at Feide kundeportal for your organization to create a service and a SAML 2.0 configuration for that service. Configurations are locked to a specific NAV domain name and user group and cannot be shared. If the domainname is updated the Feide and Apache2-configurations will need to be updated as well.

The Feide admin will need:

  • A name for the service, we recommend: “NAV: domainname” or “NAV: your organization”.

  • An url to redirect to after login, this is the domainname followed by a relative url that is not served by NAV. We use /mellon in this howto.

  • A copy of https_DOMAINNAME.xml, to use in the SP metadata field.

Also, the userid-feide scope needs to be turned on at User information > Personal information.

Apache2 Configuration

Apache virtual host configuration:

<Location />

    AuthType mellon
    Require valid-user

    MellonEnable "auth"
    MellonSecureCookie On
    MellonUser "eduPersonPrincipalName"
    MellonMergeEnvVars On
    #MellonSessionIdleTimeout 28800  # auto logout after 8 hours
    MellonSPMetadataFile /etc/apache2/mellon/https_DOMAINNAME.xml
    MellonSPPrivateKeyFile /etc/apache2/mellon/https_DOMAINNAME.key
    MellonSPCertFile /etc/apache2/mellon/https_DOMAINNAME.cert
    MellonIdPMetadataFile /etc/apache2/mellon/idp-metadata.xml

<Location /mellon>
    SetHandler none
    AuthType mellon
    Require valid-user


<Location /index/logout>
    AuthType None
    Require all granted

<Location /about>
    AuthType None
    Require all granted

<Location /refresh_session>
    AuthType None
    Require all granted

<Location /api>
    AuthType None
    Require all granted

<Location /doc>
    AuthType None
    Require all granted

Note the location block <Location />. The “Require”-line replaces any other “requires” already there. This locks down the entire site. We haven’t found a way with this plugin to do it any other way.

The second location block (<Location /mellon>) just needs to be a relative url that is not in use by anything else, this is used by the plugin as its endpoint.

The third location block (<Location /index/logout>) is the url that must be visited before the plugin redirects to the IDP for logout.

The remaining location blocks are either public urls (/doc, /about), parts of NAV that has its own authentication system (/api), or must not be under the control of the plugin for the web frontend to correctly function (/refresh_session). If you have added extra pages or apps to the nav-server that will not use the NAV auth system you need to mark their urls similarly.

Note that MellonSessionIdleTimeout has been commented out. Not all versions of mod-auth-mellon support this configuration flag.

Restricting access by affiliation

A Feide-user has one or more affiliations like “student”, “employee” or “staff”. If it is necessary to restrict access by affiliation it is necessary to amend the apache config file. Just below MellonMergeEnvVars add:

MellonRequire "eduPersonAffiliation" "staff" "other_affiliation"

Provided debug-logging has been turned on you can see exactly which affiliations are available. Look for a line containing “MELLON_eduPersonAffiliation”.

There must be one or more quoted strings after “eduPersonAffiliation”.


When this is in use, local users like “admin” will no longer be available. Therefore, either:

  • before enabling the plugin create a user that will use OIDC to login then set that user as admin

  • after enabling the plugin set a user as admin via the CLI user script, navuser