Deploying the Community Portal

The FreeIPA Community Portal is a stand-alone WSGI web application, built with CherryPy. It is intended to be deployed on its own server, using the provided installation script. However, it can probably be deployed alongside other Apache applications, and possibly even another FreeIPA server, if desired. This behavior is untested and unproven, so your mileage may vary.


The community portal has several dependencies which must be installed. Below is a list of commands to install these dependencies, and a rationale for each.

First, we install the web server. Obviously:

dnf install httpd mod_wsgi

The web server also needs to be an IPA client. In addition, having the admin tools makes the installation easier. If you’re trying to minimize the the number of installeded programs on your server, you can run the ipa commands from a different computer and skip installing freeipa-admintools. Also, due to a deficiency in FreeIPA, the client currently depends on python-memcached:

dnf install freeipa-client freeipa-admintools python-memcached

This guide installs a couple of python packages from git, so we need this tool, if you don’t already have it:

dnf install git

The CAPTCHA functionality relies on the Pillow library:

dnf install python-pillow

These components are the core application. CherryPy as the web framework, Jinja2 provides templating, and SQLAlchemy is used for the database:

dnf install python-cherrypy python-jinja2 python-sqlalchemy

Here, we switch to using pip. We install captcha from PyPI. We need at least version 0.2 of the captcha package:

pip install captcha >= 0.2

Finally, the portal itself:

pip install git+

This will automatically unpack a couple of things to the places that we need them. Of note is that it unpacks freeipa_community_portal.wsgi, which unpacks to <python_path>/libexec/, and which is an executable, WSGI-compatible script.

Before continuing into the installation, the server should be enrolled as a FreeIPA client of the FreeIPA domain it belongs to. Running:


with your favorite options will do.


The recommended installation method is to use the freeipa-portal-install command, which will perform most installation actions automatically. If you’re using this script, you can skip this section and jump to the next thing, which outlines some post-install necessities

First, if it is not already present, the installer copies share/freeipa_community_portal/conf/freeipa_community_portal.ini to /etc/freeipa_community_portal.ini. The latter location is where the portal searches for the config, which is mostly used for email settings. If it is not present or formatted correctly, the portal will crash on start. Even if you’re not using the install, I recommend copying this file over, instead of typing it from scratch, to avoid errors.

You must edit this configuration file in order for the application to work properly. If the email settings are misconfigured, the application will crash.

Next, the installer copies the apache config from the conf directory to /etc/httpd/conf.d/freeipa_community_portal.conf. If you’re doing a custom installation of the portal, you probably will not need this file, because you probably know what you’re doing.

Then, the installer creates the directory where the portal keeps its database:

mkdir -p -m 750 /var/lib/freeipa_community_portal
chown apache:apache /var/lib/freeipa_community_portal/

If Apache doesn’t own this folder, it will vomit when attempting to put database in it. Next, the installer generates a random key and stores it in a file called “captcha.key” the above directory. The portal uses this key to secure the captcha. It would be mostly harmless if this key gets compromised, so there’s no need to take any special precautions to secure it.

After this, the installer does:

setsebool -P httpd_can_sendmail on

which loosens SELinux security so that the portal can send mail. Without this, the portal will crash when it attempts to send mail.

Finally, the portal creates a directory, /var/www/wsgi, and symlinks the wsgi executable into this directory, so:

mkdir -P /var/www/wsgi
ln -s /usr/libexec/freeipa_community_portal.wsgi \

This is the expected location of the WSGI file according to the provided httpd conf file. Is this best practice? I have no idea. Probably not. I’m not very good at Apache. If you choose to install it somewhere different, just make sure that change is reflected in your Apache configuration file.


After installation, the application still needs a few things set up in order to run. The first is a user account on the FreeIPA to run commands as. The portal relies on a few permissions:

System: Add Stage User
to create a new stage user
System: Read Stage User
to query the newly created stage user
System: Change User Password
to set a temporary password for the password reset feature
System: Read User Standard Attributes
to query user by uid for password reset (usually available to anyone)
System: Read User Addressbook Attributes
to read the mail attribute to send the password reset mail (usually available to all authenticated users)

You can create an account manually with these permissions, or you can use the included “create-portal-user” script, which contains all of the commands to add a user called “portal” with the requisite permissions.

The second thing needed is a way to authenticate via Kerberos as the user created in the previous step. Specifically, we need to authenticate as a user principal, and not a service principal. There’s no canonical solution for this yet. A keytab for the portal user is an easy way to automatically authenticate the portal user. A client keytab for the portal can be acquired with ipa-getkeytab. You must properly secure the keytab, so it can only be read by the webserver:

ipa-getkeytab -s IPA_SERVER_HOSTNAME -p portal@YOUR.REALM -k /etc/ipa/portal.keytab
chown apache:apache /etc/ipa/portal.keytab
chmod 640 /etc/ipa/portal.keytab

If you don’t remember the values for IPA server and realm, have a look at /etc/ipa/default.conf. You can set the path to keytab in /etc/freeipa_community_portal.ini. The app sets the environment variable KRB5_CLIENT_KTNAME, when the value is not empty. ipalib picks the keytab up automatically.

After all this, you should probably set up and configure mod_ssl and put the app behind HTTPS, but that is outside of the scope of this guide.