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Advanced user account management using LDAP

How to configure LDAP to access user account information

There are different ways to configure user accounts at CERN. If you only need to create a few local accounts, you should simply use the useraddcern command with the --directory argument.

If you need to give access to larger groups of accounts, that are centrally managed in FIM / Active Directory, read on...

This document describes how to configure a client machine to use the central LDAP service to give access to AFS user groups. Examples:

  • How to give access to all users of some Unix groups?
  • How to give access to all member of an E-group?
  • How to deny access to users with disabled accounts?
  • How to override certain attributes, like the login shell or the homedirectoy

The LDAP service

The LDAP service allows anonymous read-access to the user information in FIM / Active Directory. In particular, it contains the account information for all AFS users, and the membership of the CERN E-groups.

The LDAP service is described here

What is sssd ?

SSSD provides a set of daemons to manage access to remote directories and authentication mechanisms. It provides an NSS and PAM interface toward the system and a pluggable backend system to connect to multiple different account sources as well as D-Bus interface.

Configuring sssd

The /etc/sssd/sssd.conf configuration describes the CERN configuration.

Note on CS8 and newer, it's possible that the package 'cern-krb5-conf' is installed. This package provides a base minimum for kerberos configuration, but the example below is more feature complete

If you are using CS8 or newer, you may want to consider deploying configuration into a separate file in /etc/sssd/conf.d/ rather than using /etc/sssd/sssd.conf to avoid conflicts with the 'cern-krb5-conf' package.

services = nss, pam

id_provider = files
auth_provider = krb5
krb5_realm = CERN.CH
krb5_server =

id_provider = ldap
ignore_group_members = True
access_provider = ldap
ldap_schema = AD

ldap_uri = ldap://, ldap://, ldap://

ldap_referrals = False
ldap_id_use_start_tls = False
ldap_search_base = DC=cern,DC=ch
ldap_user_search_base = OU=Users,OU=Organic Units,DC=cern,DC=ch
ldap_user_search_scope = one
ldap_user_object_class = person
ldap_user_name = sAMAccountName
ldap_user_home_directory = unixHomeDirectory

ldap_group_search_base = OU=Unix,OU=Workgroups,DC=cern,DC=ch
ldap_group_search_scope = one
ldap_group_object_class = group

# Allowing users * : (&(objectClass=user) (cn=*))
ldap_access_filter = (&(objectClass=user) (cn=*))

# ldap_access_filter = (&(objectClass=user) (gidNumber=1160))
# Egroup
# ldap_access_filter = (&(objectClass=user) (memberOf=CN=lxsoft-admins,OU=e-groups,OU=Workgroups,DC=cern,DC=ch))
# Filter disabled AD accounts:
# ldap_access_filter = (&;(|(|(&(objectClass=user) (cn=*))))(!(userAccountControl:1.2.840.113556.1.4.803:=2)))

ldap_force_upper_case_realm = True

krb5_realm = CERN.CH
krb5_server =

auth_provider = krb5
chpass_provider = krb5
cache_credentials = True
ldap_tls_cacertdir = /etc/openldap/cacerts
You can install it by following this recipe as root :
# curl -o /etc/sssd/sssd.conf
# chown root:root /etc/sssd/sssd.conf
# chmod 0600 /etc/sssd/sssd.conf
# restorecon /etc/sssd/sssd.conf
In the following section we will explain how it can be tweaked.

General options

This section describes the main options to be configured in /etc/sssd/sssd.conf.
  • services is a comma separated list of services that are started when sssd itself starts. Supported services: nss, pam , sudo, autofs, ssh, pac, ifp
  • domain is a database containing user information.SSSD can use more domains at the same time.
  • filter_users, filter_groups exclude certain users from being fetched from the sss NSS database.This is particularly useful for system accounts. This option can also be set per-domain or include fully-qualified names to filter only users from the particular domain.
  • pam_id_timeout option controls how long we can cache the identity information to avoid excessive round-trips to the identity provider

Filtering results

With the general options above, your machine now has allows access from all accounts in the LDAP service. That is probable not what you want... This section gives some examples of filters that you can set to restrict the results to some useful sets of accounts.
  • How to give access to all users of some Unix groups?
    • Only allow the users of Unix group xx (gid 1160):
    •         ldap_access_filter = (&(objectClass=user) (gidNumber=1160))
    • Allow users from Unix groups t3 and zp (gid's 1081 and 1307):
    •         ldap_access_filter = (&(objectClass=user) (|(gidNumber=1160) (gidNumber=1307)))
  • How to give access to all members of an e-group?
    • Allows members of lxsoft-admins (non-recursive) e-group:
    •         ldap_access_filter = (&(objectClass=user) (memberOf=CN=lxsoft-admins,OU=e-groups,OU=Workgroups,DC=cern,DC=ch))
    • The above does not work for "recursive e-groups", where some members are e-groups themselves. To support such e-groups, you can modify the filter:
    •         ldap_access_filter = (&(objectClass=user) (memberOf:1.2.840.113556.1.4.1941:=CN=info-experiments,OU=e-groups,OU=Workgroups,DC=cern,DC=ch))
  • How to deny access to users with disabled accounts?
    • Accounts that are disabled in Active Directory can be filtered out like this:
              ldap_access_filter = (&;(|(|(&(objectClass=user) (cn=*))))(!(userAccountControl:1.2.840.113556.1.4.803:=2)))
      For an explanation, please go the Microsoft Knowledge Base
Note: ldap_access_filter accepts standard LDAP filter syntax so get as creative as you want.

Overriding attribute values

sssd-ldap allows to override certain attribute values, like the login shell or the use home directory. This may be useful on certain server machines. Example:
ldap_user_shell = /dev/null
ldap_user_home_directory = /nfs/home/%u (man sssd.conf for allowed sequences)
All available settings can be found in the manual
# man sssd-ldap

Notes from linux support

  • To enable verbose debug messages you can append "debug_level = 0x1310" to each section.
  • If you have to deal with old user ID < 1000 you can use "min_id/max_id" in the [domain/CERN] section

Enable sssd

# ## FOR CC7 ONLY ##
# authconfig --enablesssd --enablesssdauth --update
# authselect select sssd with-silent-lastlog --force
The /etc/nsswitch.conf configuration file describes the order in which password-file lookups are performed. This file should not need to be ever changed, and should always contain content such as:
passwd:     files sss
group:      files sss

Run sssd

Now you need to make sure sssd runs and is enabled by default :
# systemctl enable sssd
# systemctl stop sssd
# systemctl start sssd
NOTE: If you experiment with sssd and you want to be sure to clean all the caches please run the folllowing command :
# systemctl stop sssd
# rm -f /var/lib/sss/mc/*
# rm -f /var/lib/sss/db/*
# systemctl start sssd
# sss_cache -E

Run a simple test

You can run the following command where "login" correspond to an authorized CERN user :
# getent passwd login



Please send feedback and comments on this document to Linux support.