2.6. 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'
# 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_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 for indentations.

SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI defines the location of your database. You may want to use the MySQL database or Maria DB. There are two possible drivers, to connect to this database. Please read MySQL database connect string.

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 “assing”) as an arguments and can modify the request or raise an exception to avoid the request being handled.

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 fell. 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. You can disable this 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 accessable, i.e. privacyIDEA is technically fully functional.