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Using JAAS with Jetty is  a matter of completing the following tasks:
Using JAAS with Jetty is  a matter of completing the following tasks:

Latest revision as of 13:45, 30 April 2013


Jetty 7 and Jetty 8 are now EOL (End of Life)

All development and stable releases are being performed with Jetty 9.
This wiki is now officially out of date and all content has been moved to the Jetty Documentation Hub

Direct Link to updated documentation: http://www.eclipse.org/jetty/documentation/current/jaas-support.html

Using JAAS with Jetty is a matter of completing the following tasks:

#Configuring a JAASLoginService

#Declaring an org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASLoginService

#Creating a JAAS login module configuration file

#Specifying the JAAS login module configuration file on the Jetty run line

You should also refer to the JAAS Tutorials and Reference Guide.


The following sections explain how to configure Jetty with JAAS:

Configuring a JAASLoginService

Configure a Jetty org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASLoginService to match the realm-name in your web.xml file. For example, if the web.xml contains a realm called "Test JAAS Realm":

  <realm-name>Test JAAS Realm</realm-name>

Declaring an org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASLoginService

Next declare the following JAASLoginService in a Jetty configuration file:

    <Call name="addBean">
          <New class="org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASLoginService">
           <Set name="Name">Test JAAS Realm</Set>
           <Set name="LoginModuleName">xyz</Set>

Alternatively, of course, you can set this up in a context XML file that configures a web app:

  <Set name="securityHandler">
    <New class="org.eclipse.jetty.security.ConstraintSecurityHandler">
     <Set name="loginService">
       <New class="org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASLoginService">
         <Set name="name">Test JAAS Realm</Set>
         <Set name="loginModuleName">xyz</Set>
It is imperative that the realm-name element in web.xml file is exactly the same as the value of the name property of the JAASLoginService instance.

Creating a JAAS login module configuration file

Set up your LoginModule in a configuration file, following the syntax rules:

xyz {
       com.acme.SomeLoginModule required debug=true;
It is imperative that the application name to the left of the opening brace is exactly the same as the value of the LoginModuleName property specified above.

Read the JAAS tutorial for more information on configuration options for LoginModules.

Specifying the JAAS login module configuration file on the Jetty run line

Invoke Jetty with the JAAS configuration file you created above:

> java -Djava.security.auth.login.config=mylogin.conf -jar start.jar etc/myjetty.xml

Fine Tuning the JAASLoginService

To allow the greatest degree of flexibility in using JAAS with web applications, the JAASLoginService supports additional configuration options. You don't ordinarily need to set these explicitly, as Jetty has defaults which work in 99% of cases. However, should you need to, you can configure:

  • A policy for role-based authorization (Default: org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.StrictRoleCheckPolicy).
  • A CallbackHandler.
  • A list of classnames for the Principal implementation that equate to a user role (Default: org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASRole).

Here's an example that sets each of these:

<New class="org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASLoginService">
  <Set name="Name">xyzrealm</Set>
  <Set name="LoginModuleName">xyz</Set>
  <Set name="RoleCheckPolicy">
    <New class="org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.StrictRoleCheckPolicy"/>  <!-- default -->
  <Set name="CallbackHandlerClass">
  <Set name="roleClassNames">
    <Array type="java.lang.String">
      <Item>org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASRole</Item> <!-- default -->

Understanding the RoleCheckPolicy

The RoleCheckPolicy must be an implementation of the org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.RoleCheckPolicy interface, and its purpose is to help answer the question "is User X in Role Y?" for role-based authorization requests. The default implementation distributed with Jetty is the org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.StrictRoleCheckPolicy, which assesses a user as having a particular role if that role is at the top of the stack of roles that have been temporarily pushed onto the user, or if the user has no temporarily assigned roles, the role is among those configured for the user.

You can temporarily assign roles to a user programmatically by using the pushRole(String rolename) method of the org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASUserPrincipal class.

For the majority of webapps, the default StrictRoleCheckPolicy is adequate, but you can provide your own implementation and set it on your tt>JAASLoginService</tt> instance.

Using the CallbackHandler

A CallbackHandler is responsible for interfacing with the user to obtain usernames and credentials to be authenticated.

Jetty ships with a CallbackHandler which interfaces the information contained in the request to the Callbacks that LoginModules requests. You can replace this default with your own implementation if you have specific requirements not covered by the default.

Configuring a Role Principal Implementation Class

When LoginModules authenticate a user, they usually also gather all of the roles that a user has and place them inside the JAAS Subject. As LoginModules are free to use their own implementation of the JAAS Principal to put into the Subject, Jetty needs to know which Principals represent the user and which represent his/her roles when performing authorization checks on security-constraints. The example LoginModules that ship with jetty all use the org.mortbay.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASRole class. However, if you have plugged in some other LoginModules, you must configure the classnames of their role Principal implementations.

Examining Sample Login Modules

At the time of writing, Jetty provides four sample LoginModule implementations:

  • org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.spi.JDBCLoginModule
  • org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.spi.PropertyFileLoginModule
  • org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.spi.DataSourceLoginModule
  • org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.ldap.LdapLoginModule

We'll take a look at all of these, but first, a word about password handling in Jetty, as it applies to all LoginModules.

Understanding Passwords/Credentials

Passwords can be stored in clear text, obfuscated or checksummed. Use the class org.eclipse.jetty.http.security.Password to generate all varieties of passwords, the output from which you can cut and paste into property files or enter into database tables.

> java -cp lib/jetty.jar org.eclipse.jetty.http.security.Password
Usage - java org.eclipse.jetty.http.security.Password [<user>] <password>
> java -cp lib/jetty.jar org.eclipse.jetty.http.security.Password me you

Read more on securing passwords.


The JDBCLoginModule stores user passwords and roles in a database that is accessed via JDBC calls. You can configure the JDBC connection information, as well as the names of the table and columns storing the username and credential, and the name of the table and columns storing the roles.

Here is an example login module configuration file entry for it using an HSQLDB driver:

jdbc {
         org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.spi.JDBCLoginModule required

There is no particular schema required for the database tables storing the authentication and role information. The properties userTable, userField, credentialField, userRoleTable, userRoleUserField, userRoleRoleField configure the names of the tables and the columns within them that are used to format the following queries:

SELECT <credentialField> FROM <userTable> WHERE <userField> =?
SELECT <userRoleRoleField> FROM <userRoleTable> WHERE <userRoleUserField> =?

Credential and role information is lazily read from the database when a previously unauthenticated user requests authentication. This information is only cached for the length of the authenticated session. When the user logs out or the session expires, the information is flushed from memory.

You can store passwords in the database in plain text or encoded formats, using the Jetty password utility.


Similar to the JDBCLoginModule, but this LoginModule uses a DataSource to connect to the database instead of a JDBC driver. The DataSource is obtained by doing a JNDI lookup on java:comp/env/$\{dnJNDIName\}.

Here is a sample login module configuration for the DataSourceLoginModule:

ds {
       org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.spi.DataSourceLoginModule required


With this login module implementation, the authentication and role information is read from a property file.

props {
          org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.spi.PropertyFileLoginModule required

The file parameter is the location of a properties file of the same format as the etc/realm.properties example file. The format is:

<username>: <password>[,<rolename> ...]

Here's an example:

fred: OBF:1xmk1w261u9r1w1c1xmq,user,admin
harry: changeme,user,developer
tom: MD5:164c88b302622e17050af52c89945d44,user
dick: CRYPT:adpexzg3FUZAk,admin

The contents of the file are fully read in and cached in memory the first time a user requests authentication.


The LdapLoginModule ships in a separate jar, in $JETTY-HOME/lib/ext/jetty-ldap-jaas.jar. It requires JDK1.5 or above.

ldaploginmodule {
   org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.spi.LdapLoginModule required
   bindDn="cn=Directory Manager"

Configuring the Role Principal Implementation Class for the LdapLoginModule[1]

The LdapLoginModule does not deal with the situation of user -> some group -> role group, as it assigns users directly to the role group. If you want to specify role occupants by groups within an organization, you need the ability to sort them in this way. The following example shows how to do so by configuring RoleClassNames information. This example implements WAFFLE, which lets you run Jetty under Windows with Active Directory.

<New class="org.mortbay.jetty.plus.jaas.JAASUserRealm">
  <Set name="name">MyTestRealm</Set>
  <Set name="LoginModuleName">Jaas</Set>
  <Set name="RoleClassNames">
    <Array type="java.lang.String">

Along with:

Jaas {
waffle.jaas.WindowsLoginModule sufficient debug=true;

Add the necessary WAFFLE classes to the Jetty lib directory. Then start Jetty:

> java -Djava.security.auth.login.config=$jetty.home/etc/waffle-login.conf -jar start.jar etc/myjetty.xml

Writing Your Own LoginModule

If you want to implement your own custom LoginModule, there are two classes you should be familiar with:

package org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.spi;
public abstract class AbstractLoginModule implements LoginModule
  public abstract UserInfo getUserInfo (String username) throws Exception;
package org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.spi;
public class UserInfo
  public UserInfo (String userName, Credential credential, List roleNames)
  public String getUserName()
  public List getRoleNames ()
  public boolean checkCredential (Object suppliedCredential)

The org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.spi.AbstractLoginModule implements all of the javax.security.auth.spi.LoginModule methods. All you need to do is to implement the getUserInfo method to return an org.eclipse.jetty.plus.jaas.UserInfo instance which encapsulates the username, password and role names as java.lang.Strings for a user.

The AbstractLoginModule does not support any caching, so if you want to cache UserInfo (as, for example, does the org.mortbay.jetty.plus.jaas.spi.PropertyFileLoginModule, then you must provide this yourself.

Examining an Example JAAS WebApp

There is an example of authentication and web authorization in the Jetty distribution in examples/test-jaas-webapp. It uses the PropertyFileLoginModule to perform authentication based on a simple properties file. To use it with the jetty maven plugin:

> cd examples/test-jaas-webapp
> mvn jetty:run

Alternatively, to use it instead with Jetty standalone:

> cd examples/test-jaas-webapp
> mvn clean install
> cd ../../
> java -jar start.jar etc/jetty.xml etc/jetty-jaas.xml

Then surf to http://localhost:8080/test-jaas/index.html.

Other Goodies


As all servlet containers intercept and process a form submission with action j_security_check, it is usually not possible to insert any extra input fields onto a login form with which to perform authentication: you may only pass j_username and j_password. For those rare occasions when this is not good enough, and you require more information from the user in order to authenticate them, you can use the JAAS callback handler org.mortbay.jetty.plus.jaas.callback.RequestParameterCallback. This callback handler gives you access to all parameters passed in the form submission. To use it, in the login() method of your custom login module, add the RequestParameterCallback to the list of callback handlers the login module uses, tell it which parameters you are want, and then get the value of the parameter back. Here's an example:

public class FooLoginModule extends AbstractLoginModule
     public boolean login()
        throws LoginException
        Callback[] callbacks = new Callback[3];
        callbacks[0] = new NameCallback();
        callbacks[1] = new ObjectCallback();
        //as an example, look for a param named "extrainfo" in the request
        //use one RequestParameterCallback() instance for each param you want to access
        callbacks[2] = new RequestParameterCallback ();
        ((RequestParameterCallback)callbacks[2]).setParameterName ("extrainfo");
        String userName = ((NameCallback)callbacks[0]).getName();
        Object pwd = ((ObjectCallback)callbacks[1]).getObject();
        List paramValues = ((RequestParameterCallback)callbacks[2]).getParameterValues();
        //use the userName, pwd and the value(s) of the parameter named "extrainfo" to
        //authenticate the user


  1. Jay Jaeger, IT Management Consultant at the State of Wisconsin, provided this example. In turn, Jaeger writes, "I would never have figured this out had it not been for the article at http://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/karaf-issues/201012.mbox/%3C30176778.74721292097241071.JavaMail.jira@thor%3E ."