Login Service API

Login into Geronimo is mediated by the Login Service implemented by the org.apache.geronimo.security.server.JaasLoginService gbean. To login into the server is to establish a security session with the Login Service. Login Service will perform authentication based on the application security requirements. Application security requirements are enforced by the security realm. Client application tells Geronimo server the name of the security realm it wants to use. Refer to the Geronimo and JAAS section for a discussion on the name parameter passed by the client to the security implementation.

It is useful to look briefly at the org.apache.geronimo.security.server.JaasLoginService API:

  • JaasSessionId connectToRealm(String realm-name)
    This method allows client to select the security realm and to initiate security session. Security-session-id is returned to the client.
    Client is supposed to hold on to it.
  • JaasLoginModuleConfiguration[] getLoginConfiguration(JaasSessionId session-id)
    Return array of login module configurations for the security realm associated with the session-id.
    JaasLoginModuleConfiguration includes login module name, control flag, login module options, etc.
  • boolean performLogin(JaasSessionId session-id, int login-configuration-idx, Callback[] callbacks)
    Perform login for the login module in the security realm associated with the session-id.
    Login module is selected by the login-configuration-idx.
    Callbacks is the array of Callback objects required by the login module and populated by the client.
  • boolean performCommit(JaasSessionId session-id, int login-configuration-idx)
    Commit login results the login modules in the security realm associated with the session-id.
    Login module is selected by the login-configuration-idx parameter.
  • Principal loginSucceed(JaasSessionId session-id)
    Signal that overall login succeeded for the security session. This method returns IdentificationPrincipal for the session.
  • Set synchPrincipals(JaasSessionId session-id, Set principals)
    Synchronize principals between client-side subject and session subject. All principals from the client subject are added to the session subject and
    serializable principals from the session subject are added to the client subject.

Any client that has a reference to the JaasLoginService gbean can use it's API to log into Geronimo.

Login into Geronimo the portable way: JaasLoginCoordinator

Client side in the Geronimo login process is represented by the org.apache.geronimo.security.jaas.client.JaasLoginCoordinator login module. JaasLoginCoordinator drives login process using the Geronimo Login Service API and computes authentication result based on the JAAS login module combination semantics.

As a Login Module, JaasLoginCoordinator can be configured in the remote client or in the Geronimo server for use by the locally deployed component (such as a servlet).

JaasLoginCoordinator is invoked by the JAAS framework (as any other login module would be) in a sequence of initialize, login, and commit calls.

Next you can at each step more in detail.


On initialization step, JaasLoginCoordinator connects to the Login Service etc. Because JaasLoginCoordinator represents authentication client, it keeps it's own Subject instance.


Step 1: Initiate security session with the Login Service by calling connectToRealm(realmName); Realm name is passed as an input parameter from the application.
A new security session is started by the Login Service and saved in the active-logins map. Security session identifier is returned to the JaasLoginCoordinator.

Two notes should be made here:

  • One is that the security session holds an instance of it's own Subject (distinct from the Subject held in the JaasLoginCoordinator). This Subject will be populated with principals from the login modules configured into security realm.
  • The other is that each JaasLoginModuleConfiguration within security session contains wrapPrincipals boolean flag. If set to true, the login module (Login Domain) will be wrapped with the special login module proxy. The type of this proxy is org.apache.geronimo.security.jaas.WrappingLoginModuleProxy and it has special behavior within it's commit() method. It produces additional Principals that hold association of a principal to the login domain and a principal to the security realm.

In particular org.apache.geronimo.security.DomainPrincipal will be added for every Principal instance instantiated by the original login module (login domain) and RealmPrincipal will be added for each DomainPrincipal when login module is committed.

Step 2: Based on the security-session-id retrieve an array of JAAS login module configurations wired into the security realm by calling:
JaasLoginModuleConfiguration[] getLoginConfiguration(JaasSessionId session-id). For further details refer to #JaasLoginModuleConfiguration in the Login Service API section.

Step 3: Having to account for the remote and local scenarios, the JaasLoginCoordinator wraps each login-module in the JaasLoginModuleConfiguration[] array it got from the JaasLoginService with the LoginModuleProxies. LoginModuleProxies are login modules themselves (obviously). LoginModuleProxy is sub-classed with the ServerLoginProxy and ClientLoginProxy. ClientLoginProxy is further sub-classed by the WrappingClientLoginProxy.

We are now going to concentrate on the ServerLoginProxy. In keeping with the JAAS API, login modules wrapped by the login module proxies are invoked with the initialize, login, and commit sequence.

There are several details you have to keep in mind about this.

  • The Subject instance passed to the initialize() method for every login module proxy is JaasLoginCoordinator owned Subject instance (representing Subject on the client side).
  • Callback handler is passed by the client that initiated login procedure (for example a servlet).
  • Shared state for login modules is synchronized between JaasLoginCoordinator (the client side) and JaasLoginService (the server side) at the end of initialization loop.

Step 4: Let the login procedure begin! Here is the place where the JAAS login module semantic is actually enforced by comparing the result of the login() method call for each login module proxy and login module configuration control flag. For further details on this procedure refer to the Geronimo and JAAS section.

Note that this computation is done by the JaasLoginCoordinator which is authentication client and not by the JaasLoginService itself.

Now we are going to look into what happens within the ServerLoginProxy.login() method. There is an array of ServerLoginProxies[] that correspond to the array of JaasLoginModuleConfigurations[] retrieved from the JaasLoginService. Each ServerLoginProxy is constructor-injected with the login-module control-flag, client-side Subject, JaasLoginModuleConfiguration array index, a reference to the JaasLoginService and security-session-id.

ServerLoginProxy.login() method first retrieves an array of Callbacks[] from the JaasLoginService that are configured for the corresponding login module in the security realm:
Callback[] LoginService.getServerLoginCallbacks(security-session-id, login-module-index).
We leave it out to figure out how it is done. The important thing at this time is that you can pass this callback array to the callback-handler (injected during initialize() method call and supplied by the authentication client (see above)). callback-handler.handle(Callbacks[]) populates server callbacks array with client data.

Now ServerLoginProxy.login() method asks the JaasLoginService to perform the actual login by passing it the security-session-id, login-module-configuration index, and an array of populated callbacks. As a result, security-session is retrieved from the active-logins map, and corresponding login module (configured in the security realm under login module index) is invoked to perform the login.

A point to note here is that security realm login modules are initialized at the time when server-side callbacks are retrieved by the ServerLoginProxy in preparation for login. (Not an obvious place to look). All information to the security realm login module comes from the security session (it is on the server-side of course).

It looks like we are logged in, or at least close...


If overall authentication succeeds (according to the security realm policy), JaasLoginService.commit() is called. Login-module-proxy.commit() is called for every proxy in the login module proxy array. It is here that all principals in the security realm login modules are collected (and possibly wrapped into the DomainPrincipal and RealmPrincipal) and then added to the Subject in the security session (server-side). At the end of the commit-loop, Principals between JaasLoginCoordinator Subject (client-side) and security session Subject (server-side) are synchronized. Principals from the JaasLoginCoordinator Subjects are added to the security session Subject (in case of the server-side JaasLoginCoordinator this is an empty set) and serializable Principals from the security session Subject are added to the JaasLoginCoordinator Subject.

At the very end JaasLoginCoordinator.commit() method notifies the JaasLoginService of login success: LoginService.loginSucceed(security-session-id). As a result, JaasLoginService registers it's session Subject with the ContextManager and generates a subject-id based on the Subject. It then wraps this subject-id into the IdentificationPrincipal, adds it to the set of Principals in the Subject and returns IdentificationPrincipal to the JaasLoginCoordinator.

JaasLoginCoordinator adds IndentificationPrincipal into it's own Subject.

Authentication complete!!!

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