Recommended OpenLDAP Structure

Last modified 15 Nov 2021 16:18 +01:00

This page describes a directory structure that we recommend to use with OpenLDAP servers.

Directory Tree Structure

Container Object Class Naming attributre Description


inetOrgPerson + midPointPerson


User accounts (accounts for physical users)








Technical accounts for highly privileged services. e.g.midPoint or LDAP management tools, synchronization, etc. Usually write access. These services do not use LDAP for authentiation. They manage the LDAP directory content.




Technical accounts for ordinary services. Usually read-only access. The services use LDAP primarily to authenticate users (bind) and get user profile.


We recommend adding midpoint.schema to the OpenLDAP server. This schema adds one auxiliary object class midPointPerson. This class has optional attribute midPointAccountStatus that is used to disable the account.

The schema can easily be added by using the slapdconf utility:

sudo slapdconf add-schema -f midpoint.schema

Account Disable Mechanism

OpenLDAP does not have any good mechanism to disable an account. There is a way how to inactivate an account by clever setup of password policy and account operational attributes. Simply speaking this method pretends that the user tried to log in too many times and it efficiently "locks" the account password. We do not recommend to use this technique. Password lockout and account administrative disable are two very different things:

  • Password lockout represents the state that the user tried to log in too many times and failed. It is a state that is automatically managed by the machine (directory server).

  • Administrative disable is a decision of system administrator to prohibit any use of the account. This is an explicit decision of a human.

These two states are almost orthogonal. We definitely do not want this to be represented by a single state variable. If it is in fact a single variable then the following chain of actions can easily happen:

  1. Administrator disabling an account (which looks exactly like password lockout).

  2. User cannot log in. He figures that something went wrong.

  3. User calls the call center operator complaining about login problems. User properly authenticates to the call center operator.

  4. The operator checks that the account is locked out. She figures that the user tried to log in too many times. As the user is properly authenticated the operator enables the account.

  5. User logs in - although the account should be disabled.

This is the reason to have a separate attributes that represent each state individually. OpenLDAP has operational attributes to specify account lockout. But it has no such attribute to specify account administrative status. Therefore we had to add such an attribute in the midpoint.schema (see above).

Adding an attribute is one part of the solution. The other is to disable access to the account if the attribute midPointAccountStatus is set to disabled. We have found that the best way to do this is to use ACLs:

  • The ACLs will disable authentication (the auth access) for any object that matches filter (midPointAccountStatus=disabled).

  • The ACLs will disable access to the userPassword attribute of any object that matches filter (midPointAccountStatus=disabled).

The example of such ACL can be found in file olcAccess.ldif.

This efficiently disables access by using any password-based authentication and any internal OpenLDAP authentication. However it will not disable access to non-password authentications that do not use LDAP bind operation. Authentication based on SSH keys is one such example. In this case the client (Unix box) has to explicitly check for the value of midPointAccountStatus atttribute. This is the best we can do.

TODO: refusing access to the entire object could work, but can cause a lot of harm.

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