2.5. The Config File

privacyIDEA reads its configuration from different locations:

  1. default configuration from the module privacyidea/config.py

  2. then from the config file /etc/privacyidea/pi.cfg if it exists and then

  3. from the file specified in the environment variable PRIVACYIDEA_CONFIGFILE:

    export PRIVACYIDEA_CONFIGFILE=/your/config/file

The configuration is overwritten and extended in each step. I.e. values define in privacyidea/config.py that are not redefined in one of the other config files, stay the same.

You can create a new config file (either /etc/privacyidea/pi.cfg) or any other file at any location and set the environment variable. The file should contain the following contents:

# The realm, where users are allowed to login as administrators
SUPERUSER_REALM = ['super', 'administrators']
# Your database
SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI = 'sqlite:////etc/privacyidea/data.sqlite'
# Set maximum identifier length to 128
# SQLALCHEMY_ENGINE_OPTIONS = {"max_identifier_length": 128}
# This is used to encrypt the auth_token
SECRET_KEY = 't0p s3cr3t'
# This is used to encrypt the admin passwords
PI_PEPPER = "Never know..."
# This is used to encrypt the token data and token passwords
PI_ENCFILE = '/etc/privacyidea/enckey'
# This is used to sign the audit log
PI_AUDIT_KEY_PRIVATE = '/home/cornelius/src/privacyidea/private.pem'
PI_AUDIT_KEY_PUBLIC = '/home/cornelius/src/privacyidea/public.pem'
# PI_AUDIT_MODULE = <python audit module>
# PI_AUDIT_SQL_URI = <special audit log DB uri>
# Options passed to the Audit DB engine (supersedes SQLALCHEMY_ENGINE_OPTIONS)
# Truncate Audit entries to fit into DB columns
# PI_LOGFILE = '....'
# PI_INIT_CHECK_HOOK = 'your.module.function'
# PI_CSS = '/location/of/theme.css'


The config file is parsed as python code, so you can use variables to set the path and you need to take care of the indentation.

SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI defines the location of your database. For more information about the database connect string, supported databases and drivers please read Database connect string.

SQLALCHEMY_ENGINE_OPTIONS is a dictionary of keyword args to send to create_engine(). The max_identifier_length is the database’s configured maximum number of characters that may be used in a SQL identifier such as a table name, column name, or label name. For Oracle version 19 and above the max_identifier_length should be set to 128.

The SUPERUSER_REALM is a list of realms, in which the users get the role of an administrator.

PI_INIT_CHECK_HOOK is a function in an external module, that will be called as decorator to token/init and token/assign. This function takes the request and action (either “init” or “assign”) as an arguments and can modify the request or raise an exception to avoid the request being handled.

If you set PI_DB_SAFE_STORE to True the database layer will in the cases of tokenowner, tokeinfo and tokenrealm read the id of the newly created database object in an additional SELECT statement and not return it directly. This is slower but more robust and can be necessary in large redundant setups.


In certain cases (e.g. with Galera Cluster) it can happen that the database node has no information about the object id directly during the write-process. The database might respond with an error like “object has been deleted or its row is otherwise not present”. In this case setting PI_DB_SAFE_STORE to True might help.

PI_HASH_ALGO_LIST is a user-defined list of hash algorithms which are used to verify passwords and pins. The first entry in PI_HASH_ALGO_LIST is used for hashing a new password/pin. If PI_HASH_ALGO_LIST is not defined, ['argon2', 'pbkdf2_sha512'] is the default. Further information can be found in the FAQ (PIN Hashing).


If you change the hash algorithm, take care that the previously used one is still included in the PI_HASH_ALGO_LIST so already generated hashes can still be verified.

PI_HASH_ALGO_PARAMS is a user-defined dictionary where various parameters for the hash algorithm can be set, for example:

PI_HASH_ALGO_PARAMS = {'argon2__rounds': 5, 'argon2__memory_cost': 768'}

Further information on possible parameters can be found in the PassLib documentation.

2.5.1. Translation

PI_PREFERRED_LANGUAGE is a list in which the preferred languages can be defined. The browser’s language settings are compared to this list and the “best match” wins. If none of the languages set in the browser match, the first language in the list will be used as the default language:

PI_PREFERRED_LANGUAGE = ["en", "de", "es", "fr"]


If PI_PREFERRED_LANGUAGE is not defined, the following list is used:

privacyidea.webui.login.DEFAULT_LANGUAGE_LIST = ['en', 'de', 'nl', 'zh_Hant', 'fr', 'es', 'tr', 'cs', 'it']

The parameter PI_TRANSLATION_WARNING can be used to provide a prefix, that is set in front of every string in the UI, that is not translated to the language your browser is using.

2.5.2. Logging

There are three config entries, that can be used to define the logging. These are PI_LOGLEVEL, PI_LOGFILE, PI_LOGCONFIG. These are described in Debugging and Logging.

You can use PI_CSS to define the location of another cascading style sheet to customize the look and feel. Read more at Themes.


If you ever need passwords being logged in the log file, you may set PI_LOGLEVEL = 9, which is a lower log level than logging.DEBUG. Use this setting with caution and always delete the logfiles!

privacyIDEA digitally signs the responses with the private key in PI_AUDIT_KEY_PRIVATE. If you can be sure that the private key has not been tampered with, you can set the parameter PI_AUDIT_NO_PRIVATE_KEY_CHECK to True in order to improve the performance when loading the key.

You can disable the signing of the responses completely using the parameter PI_NO_RESPONSE_SIGN. Set this to True to suppress the response signature.

You can set PI_UI_DEACTIVATED = True to deactivate the privacyIDEA UI. This can be interesting if you are only using the command line client or your own UI and you do not want to present the UI to the user or the outside world.


The API calls are all still accessible, i.e. privacyIDEA is technically fully functional.

2.5.3. Engine Registry Class

The PI_ENGINE_REGISTRY_CLASS option controls the pooling of database connections opened by SQL resolvers and the SQL audit module. If it is set to "null", SQL connections are not pooled at all and new connections are opened for every request. If it is set to "shared", connections are pooled on a per-process basis, i.e. every wsgi process manages one connection pool for each SQL resolver and the SQL audit module. Every request then checks out connections from this shared pool, which reduces the overall number of open SQL connections. If the option is left unspecified, its value defaults to "null".

2.5.4. Audit parameters

PI_AUDIT_MODULE lets you specify an alternative auditing module. The default which is shipped with privacyIDEA is privacyidea.lib.auditmodules.sqlaudit. There is usually no need to change this.

You can change the server name of the privacyIDEA node, which will be logged to the audit log using the variable PI_AUDIT_SERVERNAME. If this variable is not set, the value from PI_NODE or localnode will be used.

You can run the database for the audit module on another database or even server. For this you can specify the database URI via PI_AUDIT_SQL_URI. With PI_AUDIT_SQL_OPTIONS You can pass a dictionary of options to the database engine. If PI_AUDIT_SQL_OPTIONS is not set, SQLALCHEMY_ENGINE_OPTIONS will be used.

PI_AUDIT_SQL_TRUNCATE = True lets you truncate audit entries to the length of the database fields.

In certain cases when you experiencing problems you may use the parameters PI_AUDIT_POOL_SIZE and PI_AUDIT_POOL_RECYCLE. However, they are only effective if you also set PI_ENGINE_REGISTRY_CLASS to "shared".

For signing and verifying each Audit entry, the RSA keys in PI_AUDIT_KEY_PRIVATE and PI_AUDIT_KEY_PUBLIC are used. If you can be sure that the private key has not been tampered with, you can set the parameter PI_AUDIT_NO_PRIVATE_KEY_CHECK to True in order to improve the performance when loading the key.

If you by any reason want to avoid signing audit entries entirely, you can set PI_AUDIT_NO_SIGN = True. If PI_AUDIT_NO_SIGN is set to True audit entries will not be signed and also the signature of audit entries will not be verified. Audit entries will appear with the signature fail. Please see also Audit Signing and The Audit-log

2.5.5. Monitoring parameters

PI_MONITORING_MODULE lets you specify an alternative statistics monitoring module. The monitoring module takes care of writing values with timestamps to a store. This is used e.g. by the EventCounter and SimpleStats.

The first available monitoring module is privacyidea.lib.monitoringmodules.sqlstats. It accepts the following additional parameters:

PI_MONITORING_SQL_URI can hold an alternative SQL connect string. If not specified the normal SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI is used.

PI_MONITORING_POOL_SIZE (default 20) and PI_MONITORING_POOL_RECYCLE (default 600) let you configure pooling. It uses the settings from the above mentioned PI_ENGINE_REGISTRY_CLASS.


A SQL database is probably not the best database to store time series. Other monitoring modules will follow.

2.5.6. privacyIDEA Nodes

privacyIDEA can run in a redundant setup. For statistics and monitoring purposes you can give these different nodes dedicated names.

PI_NODE is a string with the name of this very node. At the startup of privacyIDEA, an installation specific unique ID will be used to tie the node name to an installation. The administrator can set a unique ID for this installation as well with the PI_UUID configuration value (it must conform to RFC 4122).

If no PI_UUID is configured, privacyIDEA tries to read the ID from a file. The administrator can specify the file with PI_UUID_FILE. The default value is /etc/privacyidea/uuid.txt. If this file does not provide an ID, the /etc/machine-id will be used. And if all fails, a unique ID will be generated and made persistent in the PI_UUID_FILE.

Before version 3.10, the available nodes of the setup were defined with the PI_NODES configuration value. Since version 3.10, this configuration value is not used anymore. The names of all nodes in a redundant setup will be made available through the database.

If PI_NODE is not set, then PI_AUDIT_SERVERNAME is used as node name. If this is not set as well, the node name is returned as “localnode”.

2.5.7. Trusted JWTs

Other applications can use the API without the need to call the /auth endpoint. This can be achieved by trusting private RSA keys to sign JWTs. You can define a list of corresponding public keys that are trusted for certain users and roles using the parameter PI_TRUSTED_JWT:

PI_TRUSTED_JWT = [{"public_key": "-----BEGIN PUBLIC KEY-----\nMIIBIjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEF...",
                   "algorithm": "RS256",
                   "role": "user",
                   "realm": "realm1",
                   "username": "userA",
                   "resolver": "resolverX"}]

This entry means, that the private key, that corresponds to the given public key can sign a JWT, that can impersonate as the userA in resolver resolverX in realmA.


The username can be a regular expression like “.*”. This way you could allow a private signing key to impersonate every user in a realm. (Starting with version 3.3)

A JWT can be created like this:

auth_token = jwt.encode(payload={"role": "user",
                                 "username": "userA",
                                 "realm": "realm1",
                                 "resolver": "resolverX"},


The user and the realm do not necessarily need to exist in any resolver! But there probably must be certain policies defined for this user. If you are using an administrative user, the realm for this administrative must be defined in pi.cfg in the list SUPERUSER_REALM.

2.5.8. 3rd party token types

You can add 3rd party token types to privacyIDEA. Read more about this at New token classes.

To make the new token type available in privacyIDEA, you need to specify a list of your 3rd party token class modules in pi.cfg using the parameter PI_TOKEN_MODULES:

PI_TOKEN_MODULES = [ "myproject.cooltoken", "myproject.lametoken" ]

2.5.9. Custom Web UI

The Web UI is a single page application, that is initiated from the file static/templates/index.html. This file pulls all CSS, the javascript framework and all the javascript business logic.

You can configure privacyIDEA to use your own WebUI, which is completely different and stored at another location.

You can do this using the following config values:

PI_INDEX_HTML = "myindex.html"
PI_STATIC_FOLDER = "mystatic"
PI_TEMPLATE_FOLDER = "mystatic/templates"

In this example the file mystatic/templates/myindex.html would be loaded as the initial single page application.