OpenLDAP Installation and Configuration

Last modified 07 Jun 2021 13:28 +02:00

Installing OpenLDAP Software

There are several options to install OpenLDAP

Install OpenLDAP Using Stock Packages

The ideal way is to install OpenLDAP using packages from your OS distribution. E.g. for Ubuntu use:

apt-get install slapd ldap-utils

OS distribution packages used to be quite outdated in the past. However, it looks like the situation has improved and the packages are reasonable recent. E.g. Ubuntu 20.04 LTS comes with OpenLDAP 2.4.49.

Install From Symas Packages

Symas Corporation is the commercial sponsor of OpenLDAP. Symas provides Silver and Gold version of OpenLDAP which can be downloaded here:

However, there is a catch. The Silver version does not contain several essential overlays such as sssvlv and does not support replication. This is practically useless. The Gold version is only available under commercial subscription.

Moreover, according to our experience, installation of Symas packages is not entirely straightforward.


Administration of OpenLDAP is not exactly easy. Therefore we have created an slapdconf utility to simplify some OpenLDAP administration tasks. The utility is a Perl script.

Slapdconf can be downloaded from the source code repository:

The script needs some common Perl libraries: Net::LDAP, Authen::SASL and perldoc. The libraries can usually be installed from OS packages. For example, this how to install them on Ubuntu:

sudo apt install libnet-ldap-perl libauthen-sasl-perl perl-doc

Slapdconf has a comprehensive help message:

slapdconf --help

In Ubuntu, the default OpenLDAP package (slapd) is pre-configured to tread the root user as LDAP server administrator. Therefore the easiest way to configure OpenLDAP is to run slapdconf as root:

sudo slapdconf list-suffixes

This is using the default slapdconf setting, which is to use ldapi:/// endpoint of OpenLDAP and EXTERNAL SASL authentication. The ldapi endpoint may not be enabled by default. In Ubuntu, it can be enabled by modifying SLAPD_SERVICES line in /etc/default/slapd file (see below).

The rest of this guide will use slapdconf for configuring OpenLDAP, as doing it using the OpenLDAP way can be quite nightmarish.

Setting up SSL/TLS

In theory, it is as simple as:

slapdconf set-server-prop olcTLSCACertificateFile:/etc/ldap/tls/cacert.pem
slapdconf set-server-prop olcTLSCertificateFile:/etc/ldap/tls/
slapdconf set-server-prop olcTLSCertificateKeyFile:/etc/ldap/tls/
slapdconf set-server-prop olcTLSCipherSuite:NORMAL

However, OpenLDAP and TLS are never as easy in practice.

TLS on Debian/Ubuntu

When running on Debian/Ubuntu, the things are a bit more difficult. Debian-based OpenLDAP packages are linked with GnuTLS instead of OpenSSL. The OpenLDAP-GnuTLS integration leaves a lot to be desired. E.g. you will not see any diagnostic or error message from GnuTLS. All you got is mysterious "code 80" error. There are also groups and apparmor that needs to be set up when using letsencrypt or similar certificate management.

Firstly, you have to make sure that OpenLDAP can read the certificates and the key. If you are using letsencrypt, you will need to make sure the files are readable by the ssl-cert group. Then you need to add opendlap account to the ssl-cert group. However, the access is still prohibited by apparmor. Therefore you need to allow slapd to access the /etc/letsencrypt directory:

/etc/letsencrypt/** r,
It is perhaps better to be more specific in the pathname if your machine has several certificates. E.g. allow access only to certificate/keys for one specific host only. We leave that as an exercise for the reader.

Restart apparmor and slapd afterwards:

sudo systemctl restart apparmor
sudo systemctl restart slapd

GnuTLS needs to set both the cert and the key in one operation. Therefore you will need to do this:

slapdconf set-server-prop olcTLSCACertificateFile:/etc/ldap/tls/cacert.pem
slapdconf set-server-prop olcTLSCertificateFile:/etc/ldap/tls/ olcTLSCertificateKeyFile:/etc/ldap/tls/
slapdconf set-server-prop olcTLSCipherSuite:NORMAL

Finally, you need to add LDAPS port (663) to the list of ports that slapd listens on:

SLAPD_SERVICES="ldap:/// ldaps:/// ldapi:///"

and restart slapd

sudo systemctl restart slapd

If you ever encounter a GnuTLS problem, you will need to enable GnuTLS logging to see what is the problem. You can use GNUTLS_DEBUG_LEVEL environment variable to enable the logging. However, GnuTLS logs the messages on STDOUT/STDERR, not in syslog. Therefore perhaps the easiest way is to set the GNUTLS_DEBUG_LEVEL variable in shell and then run slapd in foreground by using the -d option (as root):

systemctl stop slapd
/usr/sbin/slapd -h "ldap:/// ldaps:/// ldapi:///" -g openldap -u openldap -F /etc/ldap/slapd.d -d 256

Once you figure out what the problem is, you can start OpenLDAP using systemctl again.

Initializing OpenLDAP

The database and suffix might have been created during software installation. To check if that is the case use the following command:

$ slapdconf list-suffixes

If you are OK with the existing suffix you may skip this section. If not then you have to delete the suffix (see OpenLDAP Administration).

Setting up logging

Add syslog configuration: /etc/rsyslog.d/40-slapd.conf

local4.*        -/var/log/slapd.log
& ~

Set log level:

$ slapdconf set-log-level stats


Ubuntu OpenLDAP has port specification in /etc/default/slapd:

SLAPD_SERVICES="ldap:// ldapi:///"

Symas OpenLDAP has the specification of ports in /opt/symas/etc/openldap/symas-openldap.conf


Creating the Database and Suffix

To create new suffix:

$ mkdir /var/lib/ldap/example
$ chown openldap:openldap /var/lib/ldap/example
$ slapdconf create-suffix dc=example,dc=com --dbDir /var/lib/ldap/example --rootPassword secret

This command creates a directory for the new database and sets correct permissions. The last line creates the database and suffix in the server.

You may need to set maximum database size:

$ slapdconf set-suffix-prop dc=example,dc=com olcDbMaxSize:100000000

On Ubuntu 16 to make the create suffix work, one has to first load the module. This does not seem to be necessary in newer OpenLDAP/Ubuntu versions.

$ slapdconf add-module back_mdb

Setting up Overlays

slapdconf add-module sssvlv
slapdconf add-overlay dc=example,dc=com sssvlv

Installing password policy overlay

slapdconf add-module ppolicy
ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f /etc/ldap/schema/ppolicy.ldif
slapdconf add-overlay dc=example,dc=com ppolicy

Installing memberof overlay

slapdconf add-module memberof
slapdconf add-overlay dc=example,dc=com memberof

Installing refint overlay to support referential integrity - this requires <explicitReferentialIntegrity>false</explicitReferentialIntegrity> in midPoint resource association configuration

slapdconf add-module refint
slapdconf  add-overlay dc=example,dc=com refint olcRefintConfig 'olcRefintAttribute:memberof member manager owner'

Populating the Suffix

When the suffix is created it is completely empty. Not even the base object is there. The following command creates the basic objects of the suffix:

ldapgenerate -D "cn=admin,dc=example,dc=com" -w secret -i -s dc=example,dc=com

The suffix root user must be used explicitly when creating a base object for the suffix. The EXTERNAL SASL authentication will not work here.

Setting up MidPoint Access

Creating Administrator Account

Create ou=Administrators,dc=example,dc=com subtree and adminstration user by importing following LDIF:

dn: ou=Administrators,dc=example,dc=com
objectclass: top
objectclass: organizationalunit
ou: Administrators

dn: cn=idm,ou=Administrators,dc=example,dc=com
objectclass: top
objectclass: person
cn: idm
sn: IDM Administrator
description: Special LDAP acccount used by the IDM
  to access the LDAP data.
userPassword: {SSHA}R5KF3K4X2FX5gkWKuDxm4M6gZyO0QgNF

Make sure that the empty line is really empty and that it does not contains spaces or any white characters.

Use the following command (as root):

ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f admin.ldif

Setting Up ACLs

Setup ACLs that allow access for midpoint user to the directory:

dn: olcDatabase={1}mdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcAccess
olcAccess: to attrs=userPassword,shadowLastChange by dn="cn=idm,ou=Administrators,dc=example,dc=com" write by dn.exact=gidNumber=0+uidNumber=0,cn=peercred,cn=external,cn=auth write by anonymous auth by self write by * none
olcAccess: to dn.base="" by * read
olcAccess: to dn.subtree="ou=people,dc=example,dc=com" by dn="cn=idm,ou=Administrators,dc=example,dc=com" write
olcAccess: to dn.subtree="ou=groups,dc=example,dc=com" by dn="cn=idm,ou=Administrators,dc=example,dc=com" write
olcAccess: to * by dn.exact=gidNumber=0+uidNumber=0,cn=peercred,cn=external,cn=auth write by dn="cn=idm,ou=Administrators,dc=example,dc=com" read by self read by * none

Use the following command (as root):

ldapmodify -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f aci.ldif

Or you can use ldapconf to set up the ACLs:

slapdconf edit-suffix-acis dc=example,dc=com

Setting Up Limits

dn: olcDatabase={1}mdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcLimits
olcLimits: dn.exact="cn=idm,ou=Administrators,dc=example,dc=com" size.prtotal=unlimited

Or you can use slapdconf:

slapdconf set-suffix-prop dc=example,dc=com 'olcLimits:dn.exact="cn=idm,ou=Administrators,dc=example,dc=com" size.prtotal=unlimited'

Setting up password policy

dn: cn=pwpolicy,dc=example,dc=com
objectclass: pwdPolicy
objectClass: person
cn: pwpolicy
sn: pwpolicy
pwdAttribute: userPassword
pwdMaxFailure: 3
pwdLockout: TRUE
pwdLockoutDuration: 60
ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f pwpolicy.ldif
slapdconf set-overlay-prop dc=example,dc=com ppolicy olcPPolicyDefault:cn=pwpolicy,dc=example,dc=com

How to install both Ubuntu OpenLDAP and Symas OpenLDAP

Overall, do not try this. But if you have to, this what you do.

  1. Install Symas OpenLDAP from Symas deb packages

  2. Initialize configuration as per Symas doc

  3. Stop slapd: /etc/init.d/solserver stop

  4. Edit /opt/symas/etc/openldap/symas-openldap.conf, change port number

  5. Edit /etc/init.d/solserver and change "Provides: slapd" to "Provides: solserver"

  6. apt-get install slapd