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Setting up FreeRADIUS

This section describes how to set up FreeRADIUS for an IdP. It assumes that you have already executed the configuration steps for the eduroam SP configuration of FreeRADIUS. We will expand that configuration to turn FreeRADIUS into a simple IdP. N.B.: even if you are going to have an IdP-only installation, the eduroam SP configuration for FreeRADIUS is still the exact same. You just don't define any own Access Point clients in clients.conf.

Adding IdP support in FreeRADIUS needs several steps to be executed:

  • a TLS server certificate needs to be created for EAP methods to work
  • the desired EAP types need to be configured.
  • the virtual server eduroam needs to be instructed to do tunneled EAP authentication
  • a user database needs to be linked to the FreeRADIUS instance to authenticate the users
  • a realm needs to be marked as to-be-authenticated-locally in the configuration
  • the server needs to be prepared to process incoming requests *from* the upstream FLR server

These steps are explained in detail below. For the user database, this example will use a "flat file" with usernames and passwords. The Goodies section contains examples for MySQL and other types of backend databases.

TLS server certificate

While it is possible to buy and install a commercial TLS certificate, this is neither necessary (the trust settings of web-browser stores don't apply for EAP, so there are no "recognised" CAs) nor prudent (a commercial CA issues many certificates, and uncautious users might be tempted to accept other certificates from that same CA).

We suggest to create an own certificate. FreeRADIUS makes this very easy by providing an automatic script for that purpose. Execute the


script. It will generate certificates which are suited for EAP authentication, and name them so that the server can find them immediately without further configuration. Later, for the supplicant configuration, you will need to include the generated CA certificate into your supplicant configurations.

EAP type configuration

The file /etc/raddb/eap.conf defines how EAP authentication is to be executed. The shipped configuration file is not adequate for eduroam use; it enabled EAP-MD5 and LEAP, for example; which are not suitable as eduroam EAP types. Use the following content for eap.conf instead. It enables PEAP and TTLS:

eap {
                default_eap_type = peap
                timer_expire     = 60
                ignore_unknown_eap_types = no
                cisco_accounting_username_bug = no

                tls {
                        certdir = ${confdir}/certs
                        cadir = ${confdir}/certs
                        private_key_password = whatever
                        private_key_file = ${certdir}/server.key
                        certificate_file = ${certdir}/server.pem
                        CA_file = ${cadir}/ca.pem
                        dh_file = ${certdir}/dh
                        random_file = /dev/urandom
                        fragment_size = 1024
                        include_length = yes
                        check_crl = no
                        cipher_list = "DEFAULT"

                ttls {
                        default_eap_type = mschapv2
                        copy_request_to_tunnel = yes
                        use_tunneled_reply = yes
                        virtual_server = "eduroam-inner-tunnel"

                peap {
                        default_eap_type = mschapv2
                        copy_request_to_tunnel = yes
                        use_tunneled_reply = yes
                        virtual_server = "eduroam-inner-tunnel"

                mschapv2 {


A common question regarding this definition is: "why is TLS also configured? I don't want it, can I disable it?" The answer is: the TTLS and PEAP sections depend on the tls stanza for the definition of which server certificates to use. You cannot delete the stanza, but that doesn't mean you can't effectively disable TLS: the tls stanza contains the ca_file parameter. Only clients with a TLS client certificate from this CA will be accepted. We have just created a brand-new CA with the "bootstrap" script. Simply don't issue nor distribute any client certificates from this CA, then nobody will be able to log in with EAP-TLS.

Another question is regarding the mschapv2 section. For all practical purposes, the easy answer is that it is a piece of magic and needs to be there for PEAP to work. If you are curious regarding the gory details, please let us know.

Note that one parameter for both the ttls and peap stanza is "virtual_server = eduroam-inner-tunnel". This means that the inner EAP authentication will be carried out in this other virtual server, which we will define later.

Virtual server eduroam: enable EAP

Compared to the eduroam SP config, you simply need to additionally mention the "eap" module in both the authorize and authenticate stanza. It will then look like the following: 

authorize {

authenticate {
Virtual server eduroam-inner-tunnel

When the eap module has started with an authentication, it will first establish a TLS tunnel; this is done by enabling the module in the previous "eduroam" virtual server. After the TLS tunnel is established, the content (i.e. the tunneled authentication) is processed separately in this new virtual server. Create the file in /etc/raddb/sites-enabled/eduroam-inner-tunnel and give it the following content:

server eduroam-inner-tunnel {

authorize {

authenticate {
        Auth-Type PAP {
        Auth-Type MS-CHAP {

post-auth {
        Post-Auth-Type REJECT {


Let's revisit the modules which this virtual server executes one after another:

  • auth_log: logs the incoming packet to the file system. This is needed to fulfill the eduroam SP logging requirements. Note that this log *may* contain the user's cleartext password if TTLS-PAP is used. You can log the packet with omitted User-Password attribute if you prefer; see the "Goodies" section for more details).
  • eap: if the EAP authentication contains another EAP instance inside, the module will decode it. This is the case for PEAP.
  • files: this module tries to find out the authoritative password for the user by looking up the username in the file
  • mschap: this module is in effect only if PEAP-MSCHAPv2 or TTLS-MSCHAPv2 is used. It will mark the packet as to be authenticated with MS-CHAP algorithms later.
  • pap: this module is in effect only if TTLS-PAP is used. It will mark the packet as to be authenticated with PAP alogrithms later.
  • reply_log: logs the reply packet to the file system

Omitting User-Password in inner authentication logs

Using MySQL as user database backend

In this section, an example server is configured as follows:

  • Acting as a Service Provider:
    Accept requests from Access Points. Proxy requests to IdPs in the eduroam infrastructure.
  • Acting as a Identity Provider:
    Usage of both EAP-TTLS/PAP and PEAP/MSCHAPv2 simultaneously for authenticating the clients.
    Optionally: forcing outer identity to anonymous@domain.tld.
  • A few test user accounts are statically entered in a file.
  • Regular users are authenticated from an LDAP directory, using the eduPerson schema. Usernames are stored in eduPersonPrincipalName attribute and the plaintext password in userPassword attribute.
  • Accounting is stored in a MySQL database.
  • Optionally a script can be set-up to update accounting SQL table with information of assigned IP addresses.
Defining clients - Access Points and RADIUS servers in clients.conf

Access points, RADIUS servers and other RADIUS clients (NAS devices, RADIUS test scripts, ...) are defined in the file /etc/raddb/clients.conf. This file lists devices that may send requests to the server. An example is given below, and can be downloaded from

This example defines a group of access points with a common shared secret: – (due to netmask = 29) are defined as clients and are assigned the shared secret verysharedsecret. These clients will show up in log files with their shortname eduroam-ap-v4. All incoming requests by these clients will be handled by the virtual server eduroam.

client descriptivename {
            ipaddr                             =
            netmask                            = 29
            secret                             = verysharedsecret
            require_message_authenticator      = no
            shortname                          = eduroam-ap-v4
            nastype                            = other
            virtual_server                     = eduroam

To edit the file for your own configuration, comment out or delete the existing entries and add the access points:

An arbitrary number of client stanzas can be added to the file. Individual IP addresses with their own shared secret can be defined by assigning netmask = 32.

For Cisco APs the nastype is set to cisco, for other NAS devices the value should be set differently. If the AP has no corresponding nastype, the nastype needs to be set to „other". It is recommended to use a different shared secret for every access point. The secret has to be entered in the Access Point as well. You can use mkpasswd to randomly generate shared secrets. Shared secrets in RADIUS are rather weak; for cryptographic reasons, the recommend length for shared secrets is 16 bytes.

Since a linked RADIUS server is viewed as a RADIUS client device, they also have to be added here. Hence it is necessary to determine all servers DNS names or their IP addresses. For an institutional server, at least its uplink RADIUS servers from the federation have to be added (in most cases, these are the Federation-Level RADIUS servers (FLRS)). client stanzas can also define IPv6 clients. The example files found in show two FLR uplinks (Luxembourg FLR servers), one for IPv6 and one for IPv4 clients.

A loopback client is useful for running testing scripts and even mandatory for tunnelled authentication methods like TTLS and PEAP, so we make sure it is set correctly. The localhost's secret does not need to be shared with anyone, it is just there proforma and can even be left at the default „testing123" An example can be downloaded from

Configure realm handling and proxying: proxy.conf

RADIUS requests from local users must be handled locally, while requests from roaming users must be proxied to the national FLRS RADIUS server. If an organisation has a domain domain.tld all requests for *.domain.tld are forwarded from the national RADIUS server to their organisational RADIUS server and it is their responsibility to filter out invalid domains via the blackhole rule to prevent looping of invalid authentication requests. Proxying is configured in the file /etc/raddb/proxy.conf, the first rule with a match is used. The configuration file contains lots of sample definitions. These are not necessary and can be deleted.

An example file can be downloaded as an example and for edit ( Points of importance are:

  • Replace domain.tld for your own assigned realm as an IdP. For SPs, only the DEFAULT realm is important.
  • proxy.conf contains a small configuration stanza; proxy server for system-wide options:
proxy server {
            default_fallback = yes

This setting means that if an authentication request contains a realm that is not explicitly listed in latersections of this file, it is proxied to the DEFAULT realm.

  • The configuration file also needs to have defined home_server entries. They are the counterpart to the client stanzas from above: other RADIUS servers with their IP addresses and shared secrets. Two such example stanzas (for FLRS proxying of unknown realms) are included in the example file.
  • The parameters response_window, zombie_period and revive_interval are tuning parameters and should initially remain untouched. Using status_check = status-server is recommended, but only if the server on the other end is configured to handle such Status-Server requests. This behaviour is configured in radiusd.conf.
  • Home servers are aggregated in pools (i.e.: all servers that have the same function, like: all FLRS servers, are grouped together). This happens very straightforward in a home_server_pool definition: All realms known to the server are listed in realm sections.
  • The nostrip command specifies that no domain stripping is performed (usernames always remain Network Access Identifier in the form short_username@domain.tld, for both local and roaming users).
Virtual server definition for eduroam: sites-enabled/eduroam

For a Service Provider, the definition of the actual server (the part that processes incoming packets from the defined clients and sends them off to the defined proxy servers) is very simple, since the server doesn't have to perform any authentication by itself.

Configuration of a server section happens in its own file within the subdirectory sites-available. The file can be downloaded from A symlink in the directory sites-enabled points to the definition in sites-available.

The file contains a single server section with several subsections. Authentication requests are processed through the following sections, in order:

  • authorize: Collect information about the user from the RADIUS client.
  • pre-proxy: Prepare proxy to other server.
  • post-proxy: Evaluate response from other server.
  • post-auth: Final packed inspection before sending the answer to the RADIUS client.

Accounting requests are processed as follows:

  • preacct: Collect information about the session which is being accounted.
  • pre-proxy: Prepare proxy to other server.
  • post-proxy: Evaluate response from other server.

These sections contain the names of modules that are configured in radiusd.conf and are explained in a later section. The complete server configuration for an SP is below (note the empty authenticate section since the server is not actually performing any authentication itself as an SP): As the script is processed, the following actions are performed:

  • authorize/auth_log: The request packet is dumped into a log file.
  • authorize/suffix: The username is examined to determine the realm.
  • authorize/if: Loop prevention of bogus subdomain routing.
  • pre-proxy/attr_filter.pre-proxy: Filter out attributes which are not supposed to be sent out (VLAN etc.).
  • pre-proxy/pre_proxy_log: Log the request to disk before it is proxied.
  • post-proxy/post_proxy_log: Log the request to disk after receiving the answer from the proxy.
  • post-proxy/ Filter out unsolicited attributes from the proxy (VLAN etc.).
  • post-auth/reply_log: The final reply to the client is logged to file.

For accounting requests, the following steps are performed:

  • preacct/detail: The request packet is dumped into a log file.
  • preacct/suffix: The username is examined to determine the realm.
  • preacct/if: Loop prevention of bogus subdomain routing.
  • pre-proxy/attr_filter.pre-proxy: Filter out attributes which are not supposed to be sent out (VLAN etc.).
  • pre-proxy/pre_proxy_log: Log the request to disk before it is proxied.
  • post-proxy/post_proxy_log: Log the request to disk after receiving the answer from the proxy.
  • post-proxy/ Filter out unsolicited attributes from the proxy (VLAN etc.).
Main configuration file: radiusd.conf

This file contains many generic RADIUS configuration items. However, the defaults to these items are usually appropriate for eduroam, and therefore will not be discussed here. Only configuration items that need alteration are discussed.

  • The following lines are commented-out by default:
           user = radiusd
           group = radiusd

If these lines remain commented-out, FreeRADIUS will run as root. This is generally considered inadvisable. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you create a radiusd user and a radiusd group, and then run the server as this radiusd user. However, if you do this you must ensure that that all files the server accesses during operation can be written to and read by this user and group.

  • As of version 2, FreeRADIUS is capable of both IPv4 and IPv6. The following four sections enable both
    authentication and accounting processing with IPv4 and IPv6:
listen {
          type = auth
          ipaddr = *
          port = 1812

listen {
          type = auth
          ipv6addr = ::
          port = 1812

listen {
          type = acct
          ipaddr = *
          port = 1813

listen {
          type = acct
          ipv6addr = ::
          port = 1813
  • The following lines are important for eduroam operation: the aforementioned possibility to use Status-
    Server requests is enabled in the security section, and all the defined client definitions, proxy server
    definitions and the virtual servers are read in. The small subset of modules used in the virtual server
    eduroam are also defined here:
security {
           max_attributes = 200
           reject_delay = 0
           status_server = yes

proxy_requests      = yes
$INCLUDE proxy.conf
$INCLUDE clients.conf
$INCLUDE sites-enabled/
  • detail modules take a filename as an option to determine where to log packet content. The choice of file
    name is arbitrary. The %Y%m%d name above gets expanded to a date, and thus creates a new subdirectory every day. This makes debugging and deleting old records very easy. This module shows up in the sample server configuration in several variations (different filenames): auth_detail, detail, pre_proxy_detail, post_proxy_detail, reply_detail.
detail auth_log {
       detailfile = ${radacctdir}/%Y%m%d/eduroam/auth-detail
       detailperm = 0600
  • The following module determines which part of the incoming User-Name is the name, and which one is the realm. Using @ as delimiter and treating the part behind the @ as realm is the eduroam definition of user names (and is the suggested naming scheme in RFC4282).
realm suffix {
    format = suffix
    delimiter = "@"
  • The following module gives the potential for filtering out unwanted attributes. One example for this is VLAN assignments. These assignments are of local significance only, and therefore it does not make sense for a remote server to dictate VLAN membership. In fact, this may even be harmful, and so, VLAN attributes should be not be sent out by IdPs and also be filtered by SPs. The module refers to files in the main configuration directory. Please refer to these files themselves for additional documentation on how to specify which attributes are allowed and which not. As of FreeRADIUS 2.0.4, the server will ship with standard defaults that are compatible with eduroam operation without the need for modifications.
attr_filter attr_filter.pre-proxy {
        _attrsfile = ${confdir}/attrs.pre-proxy

The remaining parts in the virtual server, like

if (...) {
   update request {


are not separate modules but a configuration language. Details about usage of this configuration language are available on its man page ("man unlang").

User authentication: configuring an eduroam IdP

Configuring an IdP involves:

  • Configuring the server as EAP endpoint.
  • Configuring the local database backend.

EAP configuration happens in the file eap.conf (downloadable from This example, eap.conf file is
configured to accept both TTLS and PEAP requests and process them with the same backend. For a
discussion of when to use TTLS and when PEAP, please refer to section of this document. The
following notes refer to different modules within the file:

  • In the tls section, the server certificate that is presented to the users while they authenticate is defined.
    certdir, private_key_... have to point to the appropriate files on the server. It appears confusing for most
    new administrators that tls needs to be defined even though EAP-TLS is not a desired authentication
    method. This is because the ttls and peap sections share the certificate parameters and rely on the
    existence of the tls stanza. Unwanted EAP-TLS authentication can be prevented by pointing cadir to a
    dummy Certification Authority (like the one that is created on first server startup) which never issues
    proper client certificates.
  • The ttls and peap sections denominate a dedicated virtual server to handle the inner tunnel request
    (which happens after the TLS handshake with the supplicant has completed). Note that there needs to
    be an empty mschapv2 stanza in eap.conf to make PEAP work – this is due to internal server workings
  • To include EAP into the virtual server eduroam (see section A.2.4 "Virtual server definition for eduroam:
    sites-enabled/eduroam"), only two lines need to be added; the new virtual server "eduroam-innertunnel"
    (which we defined in eap.conf before) needs be set up to do the actual user authentication, and
    the module eap must be listed at the end of the authorise and authenticate sections.:

server eduroam-inner-tunnel {
authorize {
authenticate {
             Auth-Type LDAP

Unknown macro:

Unknown macro: {                           ldap             }

             Auth-Type PAP

Unknown macro:

Unknown macro: {                           pap             }

             Auth-Type MS-CHAP

Unknown macro:

Unknown macro: {                           mschap             }

preacct {
accounting {
session {
post-auth {
              Post-Auth-Type REJECT

Unknown macro:

Unknown macro: {                           reply_log              }

pre-proxy {
post-proxy {

The most notable difference between the inner server and the outer is that the inner tunnel does not do
EAP. Instead, it uses the ldap module in the authorize and authenticate sections to authenticate users
against the ldap backend. Note that the ldap module is configured in radiusd.conf. You have to enter
the appropriate connection details to your LDAP server there and open firewall ports from the RADIUS
server to the LDAP server if need be.

Also note that this virtual server does not call the suffix module. This means the inner request does not
get proxied elsewhere. This is a standard security measure in eduroam.

The virtual server definition also includes the files module. When doing LDAP authentication, this is
optional. In the example file, we use this module to have test users in the flat file "users" in order to
have a possibility of debugging authentication. Once the authentication against the file works and the
LDAP connection is set up properly, the files module is only needed for advanced topics like VLAN

• For an initial setup of the users file, administrators should delete all existing entries and add only the
following line in the file:
test@domain.tld       Cleartext-Password := "<test password>"

This creates a test user with the name "test@domain.tld" and a password. It can be used to test authentication.

  • In case a VLAN assignment should be done, the users file needs to contain the corresponding RADIUS
    attributes, like in the following example for VLAN 313:

DEFAULT <assignment conditions here>         Tunnel-Type            =VLAN,
Tunnel-Medium-Type               =IEEE-802,
Tunnel-Private-Group-Id          =313

  • The configuration of the ldap module itself happens in radiusd.conf. This config stanza is extensively
    documented in the file, so below just a simple example of a sample configuration (based on an
    eduPerson LDAP schema).

modules {

            ldap {
                     server = "localhost"
                     identity = "cn=RADIUS,dc=domain,dc=tld"
                     password = "<secret for identity dn>"
                     basedn = "ou=student,dc=domain,dc=tld"
_                     filter = "(eduPersonPrincipalName=%

Unknown macro:

Unknown macro: {User-Name}

                     start_tls = no

# Mind the Linewrap!

  • If logging of accounting requests to a database is desired (see below), it is also wise to extend the
    accounting key in the acct_unique module to make accounting more robust.

acct_unique {
_                     key   = "User-Name, Acct-Session-Id, Calling-Station-Id,_
                     Called-Station-Id, NAS-IP-Address, NAS-Port"

Setting up accounting in the SQL database

All accounting information is logged into the MySQL database. The configuration is in the file
/etc/raddb/sql.conf. The content of this file should be replaced with that found in

Logging the client IP address as Service Provider (Optional)

The client IP address is logged in the DHCP log file. However this information can also be stored in the
ACCOUNTING table with other accounting data and thus provide easy access to that data. A Sysadmin needs
to set-up a script to update the SQL database information with the assigned IP address. The client IP address
is determined by tailing the DHCP log file and monitoring all IP assignments. The script also monitors active
connections and cleans up accounting (closes accounting) for stale connections. SNMP access to Access
Points is required.

The script is available from here:

The access points need to be registered with the script. This is done by entering the needed access point data
into the database:

USE radius;
create table access_points (
           `IP address` varchar(100) PRIMARY KEY NOT NULL,
           `snmp secret` varchar(100) NOT NULL default '',
           `radius secret` varchar(100) NOT NULL default '',
           `root username` varchar(100) NOT NULL default '',
           `root password` varchar(100) NOT NULL default ''

More information

The original Slovenian Eduroam technical specifications and sample configuration site:

ARNES AAI technical support e-mail address:

FreeRADIUS files:

Eduroam-in-a-box web configuration tool:

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