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BWC includes an auth service that is responsible for handling user authentication and generating time limited access tokens. When authentication mode is enabled (default), those access tokens are used to authenticate against the BWC REST APIs.


Configuring the Service

By default, the BWC configuration file is located at /etc/st2/st2.conf. The available settings listed below are configured under the auth section in the configuration file. The service can be configured with different backends (i.e. PAM, LDAP, etc.) to handle the authentication. If backend is not specified, a htpasswd compatible flat file authentication backend is used. It is recommended that the service be configured to listen on https (use_ssl option) and be accessible to the st2 clients.

  • host - Hostname for the service to listen on.
  • port - Port for the service to listen on.
  • use_ssl - Set to True to enable SSL / TLS mode.
  • cert - Path to the SSL certificate file. Only used when “use_ssl” is set to True.
  • key - Path to the SSL private key file. Only used when “use_ssl” is set to True.
  • mode - Mode to use (proxy or standalone). Default is standalone.
  • backend - Authentication backend to use in standalone mode (i.e. pam, flat_file). Please review the supported list of authentication backends below.
  • backend_kwargs - JSON serialized arguments which are passed to the authentication backend in standalone mode.
  • token_ttl - The value in seconds when the token expires. By default, the token expires in 24 hours.
  • api_url - Authentication service also acts as a service catalog. It returns a URL to the API endpoint on successful authentication. This information is used by clients such as command line tool and web UI. The setting needs to contain a public base URL to the API endpoint (excluding the API version). Example:
  • enable - Authentication is not enabled for the BWC API until this is set to True. If running BWC on multiple servers, please ensure that this is set to True on all BWC configuration files.
  • debug - Specify to enable debug mode.

After the configuration change, restart all st2 components.

st2ctl restart

Auth Backends

The service can be configured with different backends (i.e. PAM, LDAP, etc.) to handle the authentication. If backend is not specified, a htpasswd compatible flat file authentication backend is used. To use a different backend, select and install the appropriate python package from the BWC community repos and configure st2auth accordingly. For example, to install the package for the PAM backend manually, run the following command on the same server where st2auth is running.

/opt/stackstorm/st2/bin/pip install git+


When using packages to install BWC a special Python virtual environment is created in /opt/stackstorm/st2/ for BWC dependencies and components.

This means that if you want to work and manipulate StackStorm installation (e.g. use python binary from that virtualenv or install new auth backend) you need to work with the BWC virtual environment.

You can do so by activating the virtual environment or running python / pip binary directly from the virtual environment as shown below.

After the backend is installed, configure the backend at /etc/st2/st2.conf, and restart BWC. Specific configuration details for the backend can be found in the README at the corresponding repo. The following is a sample auth section in the config file for the PAM backend:

mode = standalone
backend = pam
enable = True
use_ssl = True
cert = /path/to/ssl/cert/file
key = /path/to/ssl/key/file
logging = /etc/st2/st2auth.logging.conf
api_url =
debug = False

The following is a list of auth backends for the community edition to help get things started:

LDAP (Enterprise Edition)

BWC-developed auth backends such as LDAP are only available in Brocade Workflow Composer. For more information on Brocade Workflow Composer, please visit The auth backends included with Brocade Workflow Composer are developed, tested, maintained, and supported by Brocade.


The LDAP backend authenticates the user against an LDAP server. The following is a list of configuration options for the backend:

option required default description
bind_dn yes   DN of the service account to bind with the LDAP server
bind_password yes   Password of the service account
base_ou yes   Base OU to search for user and group entries
group_dns yes   Which groups user must be member of to be granted access
group_dns_check no and What kind of check to perform when validating user group membership (and / or). When and behavior is used, user needs to be part of all the specified groups and when or behavior is used, user needs to be part of at least one or more of the specified groups.
host yes   Hostname of the LDAP server
port yes   Port of the LDAP server
use_ssl no false Use LDAPS to connect
use_tls no false Start TLS on LDAP to connect
cacert no None Path to the CA cert used to validate certificate
id_attr no uid Field name of the user ID attribute
scope no subtree Search scope (base, onelevel, or subtree)
network_timeout no 10.0 Timeout for network operations (in seconds)
chase_referrals no false True if the referrals should be automatically chased within the underlying LDAP C lib
debug no false Enable debug mode. When debug mode is enabled all the calls (including the results) to LDAP server are logged
client_options no   A dictionary with additional Python LDAP client options which can be passed to set_connection() method


By default and check is performed when validating user group membership against groups defined in group_dns config option. This means if multiple groups are specified, user needs to be member of all the specified groups for authentication to succeeed. If you want to use or behavior instead (user needs to be a member of one or more of the specified groups), you can achieve that by setting group_dns_check config option to or.

The following is a sample auth section for the LDAP backend in the st2 config file:

mode = standalone
backend = ldap
backend_kwargs = {"bind_dn": "CN=st2admin,ou=users,dc=example,dc=com", "bind_password": "foobar123", "base_ou": "dc=example,dc=com", "group_dns": ["CN=st2users,ou=groups,dc=example,dc=com", "CN=st2developers,ou=groups,dc=example,dc=com"], "host": "", "port": 636, "use_ssl": true, "cacert": "/path/to/cacert.pem"}
enable = True
use_ssl = True
cert = /path/to/mycert.crt
key = /path/to/mycert.key
logging = /path/to/st2auth.logging.conf
api_url =
debug = False

Running the Service

The installer sets up st2auth to run as a service. The service is setup to run under nginx with uwsgi. Alternate configuration with gunicorn or apache is also possible using under st2auth but we leave as an exercise for the reader.

The service can be started with one of the options below.

# Individually
service st2auth start

# Individually via st2ctl
st2ctl start st2auth

# Collectively with other st2 components
st2ctl start

# Using the launcher for debugging purposes
/usr/bin/st2auth --config-file /etc/st2/st2.conf


Run the following curl commands to test.

# If use_ssl is set to True, the following will fail because SSL is required.
curl -X POST

# The following will fail with 401 unauthorized. Please note that this is executed with "-k" to skip SSL cert verification.
curl -X POST -k

# The following will succeed and return a valid token. Please note that this is executed with "-k" to skip SSL cert verification.
curl -X POST -k -u yourusername:'yourpassword'

# The following will verify the SSL cert, succeed, and return a valid token.
curl -X POST --cacert /path/to/cacert.pem -u yourusername:'yourpassword'


Once st2auth is setup, API calls require the token to be passed via the headers. CLI calls require the token to be included as a CLI argument or as an environment variable.

To acquire a new token via the CLI, run the st2 auth command. If password is not provided, then st2 auth will prompt for the password. If successful, a token is returned in the response.

# with password
st2 auth yourusername -p 'yourpassword'

# without password
st2 auth yourusename


If your password contains special characters such as $, they may be interpreted by the shell. Wrap your password in single quotes (') as above.

The following is a sample API call via curl using the token.

curl -H "X-Auth-Token: 4d76e023841a4a91a9c66aa4541156fe"

The following is the equivalent for CLI.

# Include the token as command line argument.
st2 action list -t 4d76e023841a4a91a9c66aa4541156fe

# Or set the token as an environment variable.
export ST2_AUTH_TOKEN=4d76e023841a4a91a9c66aa4541156fe
st2 action list

Note that there can be use cases when you want the TTL to be different from default. You can specify a TTL (in seconds) when you request a token. To get a token that is valid for 10 minutes, use the following:

# with TTL and password
st2 auth yourusername -p 'yourpassword' -l 600

Note that if the TTL requested is greater than maximum allowed TTL in st2 configuration, you’d get an error.

If you don’t want to retrieve a new token and configure the environment variable every time you start a new shell session, you can put your BWC credentials in the CLI configuration file and the CLI will automatically authenticate, retrieve and cache the auth token for you.

For information on how to do that, see the CLI configuration page.

API Keys

BWC also supports API keys which differ from tokens in the sense that they do not expire and are therefore suited for use with integrations like webhooks etc.

All API key management is currently available via the BWC CLI.

To create an API key -

st2 apikey create -k -m '{"used_by": "my integration"}'


For security purposes the <API_KEY_VALUE> is only shown at create time. BWC itself does not store this API Key value in its database, only a one-way hash is stored. It is not possible to retrieve an API Key after creation. If the API Key is lost or not recorded at the time of creation, delete the API Key and create a new one.

The optional -m attribute allows metadata to be associated with the created key. It is good practice to assign a meaningful value like the external service which uses this key to authenticate with BWC.

The CLI for API keys also support get, list, delete, enable and disable commands.

If an API Key is disabled it will disallow access until that API key is enabled again. This is a good way to temporarily revoke access of an external service to BWC.

API Key Usage

API keys are designed for API access. As of now they cannot be used via clients like the UI and CLI.

The following are sample API calls via curl using API Keys.

curl -H "St2-Api-Key: <API-KEY-VALUE>"


API Key Migration

API keys can be migrated from one BWC instance to another. This way external services that have already been configuered with API Keys do not need to be updated with a new set of keys. Follow these steps to migrate -

On old BWC instance run the following command to save API keys into a file. Note that secrets are masked based on configuration setting. If masking is enabled an admin can on a per call basis disable the masking without having to make config changes. See Configure secrets masking to see how to disable masking on a system wide basis.

st2 apikey list -dy --show-secrets > apikeys.yaml

On new BWC instance load API keys from the file.

st2 apikey load apikeys.yaml

Using Authentication Tokens or API Keys with the API

To authenticate against the BWC API, either an authentication token or an API key (but not both) should be provided in the HTTP request headers. The headers are named X-Auth-Token and St2-Api-Key respectively.

If for some reason you can’t specify auth token or API key in the headers (e.g. you are using a third party service to integrate with BWC and this service doesn’t allow you to specify custom headers), you can provide it as a query parameter named x-auth-token and st2-api-key respectively.

Keep in mind that using HTTP header is preferred since some of the web servers and third party services log query parameters which are sent with each request which could be a security risk.

Below you can find some examples on how to send authentication token and API key in the headers and as a query parameter using cURL.

Providing it in the request headers:

curl -H "X-Auth-Token: <auth token value>"
curl -H "St2-Api-Key: <api key value>"

Providing it as a query parameter:

curl "<auth token value>"
curl "<api key value>"