How To Configure Linux Clients To Authenticate Using OpenLDAP

This is the continuation of our previous tutorial. In our previous tutorial we learned how to install and configure OpenLDAP server on Debian and Ubuntu systems. In this guide let us see how to a authenticate a Linux client using OpenLDAP server. This guide was tested on Debian 7 Desktop, although it will work on all Debian and Ubuntu derivatives. If you encounter any difficulties, do let me know. I will check and update this how-to.

Install LDAP client package on Debian 7

I assume that you’ve have a working LDAP server already. Now let us install the required packages in our LDAP client. All steps should be done by ‘root’ user or use ‘sudo’ in-front of every command.

# apt-get install libnss-ldap libpam-ldap nscd

During installation, you will be asked a variety of questions. Read them carefully and enter the appropriate values.

First enter the ldap server IP address as shown in the below screenshot.

sk@sk: ~_001Note that you should enter LDAP server URI as ldap://ip-address-of-ldapserver/.

Then enter the distinguished name of the search base. This value should match as per your LDAP server /etc/phpldaadmin/config.php file values. In my case it’s dc=unixmen, dc=com.

sk@sk: ~_002Select Ldap version to use as 3.

sk@sk: ~_003Enter LDAP administrative account details. In our case it was: cn=admin,, dc=com.

sk@sk: ~_004Enter LDAP administrative password:

sk@sk: ~_005The next window will say that you have to manually edit nsswitch.conf file. Click Ok to continue.

sk@sk: ~_006Now the libnss-ldap package has been installed. Now the above questions will be repeated for libpam-ldap.

We don’t need to act the client LDAP admin account as local root, hence we will select No.

sk@sk: ~_001Select No.

sk@sk: ~_008Now let us reconfigure libnss-ldap to improve debconf configuration by entering the following command:

# dpkg-reconfigure libnss-ldap

Make sure that the LDAP server URI is correct.

sk@sk: ~_003Make sure that the LDAP server search base:

sk@sk: ~_004LDAP version to use:

sk@sk: ~_005LDAP database doesn’t require login, hence we select No.

sk@sk: ~_006Select No.

sk@sk: ~_007Select No.

sk@sk: ~_008Select Ok.

sk@sk: ~_009That’s it. Now we have installed ldap client packages. 


Configure Client

We should tell our client system to look for LDAP server by adjusting their configuration files.

To do so, First edit file /etc/ldap/ldap.conf,

# nano /etc/ldap/ldap.conf

Uncomment the following lines and Enter your LDAP server search BASE and URI as shown below.

BASE    dc=unixmen,dc=com
URI     ldap://

Edit file /etc/nsswitch.conf,

# nano /etc/nsswitch.conf

Find the following three lines and adjust them as shown below.

passwd:         compat ldap
group:          compat ldap
shadow:         compat ldap
netgroup:       ldap

Now restart nscd service:

# /etc/init.d/nscd restart

PAM Configuration

Now we should verify the PAM configuration. The PAM configuration is modified during libnss-ldap installation. But it is advisable to verify the PAM configuration files as look like below.

Edit file /etc/pam.d/common-auth,

# nano /etc/pam.d/common-auth

Make sure this file contains the following lines.

auth    [success=2 default=ignore] nullok_secure try_first_pass
auth    [success=1 default=ignore] use_first_pass
auth    requisite             
auth    required              

Edit file /etc/pam.d/common-account,

# nano /etc/pam.d/common-account
account [success=2 new_authtok_reqd=done default=ignore]
account [success=1 default=ignore]
account requisite             
account required              

Edit file nano /etc/pam.d/common-password,

# nano /etc/pam.d/common-password
password        [success=2 default=ignore] obscure sha512
password        [success=1 user_unknown=ignore default=die] use_authtok try_first_pass
password        requisite             
password        required              

Edit file /etc/pam.d/common-session,

# nano /etc/pam.d/common-session

Add the following line at the bottom.

session  required                               

The above line will create a HOME directory for LDAP users who does not have home directory when login to LDAP server.

Edit file /etc/pam.d/common-session-noninteractive,

# nano /etc/pam.d/common-session-noninteractive
session [default=1]           
session requisite             
session required              
session required
session optional              

Restart nscd service to save changes.

# /etc/init.d/nscd restart

Log In To LDAP Server

Now we have configured our client to be able to log in to our OpenLDAP server. Let us try to login using any ldap users created in the openldap server. Please note that this user doesn’t exist in the local client system. Don’t be confused.

I have already created a user called “kumar” in my OpenLDAP server. Refer the section Sample Configuration in my previous tutorial. So let us login with user “kumar”.

Reboot your client system and try to login with your LDAP user from client system.

Enter LDAP user name.

Debian 7 Desktop, 1 nic, internet, bridge [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_010Enter LDAP user password.

Debian 7 Desktop, 1 nic, internet, bridge [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_012You will be able to log in to your client system with LDAP user.

Debian 7 Desktop, 1 nic, internet, bridge [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_013Issue the print working directory (pwd) command from the Terminal:

Debian 7 Desktop, 1 nic, internet, bridge [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_014


You should see that the home directory you selected for your user on the LDAP server is being used on this machine. It has been created on-demand to serve the LDAP user.

You should now be able to authenticate multiple computers using a centralized LDAP server. Your LDAP users will be allowed to use any of the machines you configure in this way, as long as they have the valid login credentials.

Initially this how-to will look bit difficult, but if you follow the steps carefully you will be able to setup the complete LDAP server/client.

Good Luck!

Reference: Setup OpenLDAP On Debian