Configuring LDAP Auth for Linux

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As a central source of user information, the EmpowerID Virtual Directory Server (VDS) can be leveraged as an authentication or identity provider for Linux servers. By making a few configuration changes, organizations can give users single sign-on capabilities to one or more Linux machines without requiring those users have accounts on those machines. In this way, organizations can simplify the processes for managing Linux users as the need for creating and maintaining accounts across multiple systems is negated. With the EmpowerID VDS, this information can be fully managed from one location—the EmpowerID Identity Warehouse.

Configuring LDAP authentication for Linux involves making a few configuration changes on each Linux machine for which you want to enable the feature. These changes include the following:

  • Installing the System Security Services Daemon (SSSD)
  • Configuring NSS services for SSSD
  • Editing the LDAP configuration file for your LDAP domain
  • Modifying PAM files
  • Creating a working SSSD configuration file
  • Starting the SSSD service


Before configuring LDAP authentication for your Linux servers, you should install the EmpowerID Virtual Directory server. For more information, see Installing and Configuring the EmpowerID Virtual Directory Server.

To configure LDAP Auth for Linux

This topic demonstrates how to configure LDAP authentication for Debian/Ubuntu and CentOS/RedHat distributions.

  1. Log into the target Linux server as an administrative user and install SSSD for your particular Linux distribution.

    sudo apt-get install sssd sssd-tools

    sudo yum install sssd sssd-tools
  2. Next, open the nsswitch.conf file and verify SSSD. Change the file as needed so that you see the following values:

    sudo vi /etc/nsswitch.conf
        passwd: compat sss
        group:  compat sss
        shadow: compat sss
        services:  db files sss

    sudo vi /etc/nsswitch.conf
        passwd: files sss
        group:  files sss
        shadow: files sss
        services: files sss
  3. Open the ldap.conf file and add the following to the end of the file to instruct SSSD to use the specified LDAP directory as the auth provider. This information consists of the mechanism for TLS, the URI and port for your LDAP server, as well as the search base.

    Be sure to replace serverFQDN:port with the FQDN and port of your EmopowerID LDAP server.

    sudo vi /etc/ldap/ldap.conf
        TLS_CACERT /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt
        URI ldaps://serverFQDN:port/
        BASE o=empowerid

    sudo vi /etc/openldap/ldap.conf
        TLS_CACERT /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt
        URI ldaps://serverFQDN:port/
        BASE o=empowerid
  4. Next, configure PAM files for SSSD. In Debian/Ubuntu, this involves multiple files, whereas in CentOS/RedHat, you edit a single PAM file.

    The following examples include instructional comments. You can exclude these when altering your files.

    sudo vi /etc/pam.d/common-account
    # Add the following to the end of the file
    account [default-bad success=ok user_unknow=ignore]
    sudo vi /etc/pam.d/common-auth
    # Add the following after pam_unix
    auth  [success=1 default=ignore] use_first_pass
    sudo vi /etc/pam.d/common-password
    # Add the following to the beginning of the Session section
    session  required umask=0022 skel=/etc/skel/
    # Add the following after
    session  optional

    cp /etc/pam.d/system-auth-ac /etc/pam.d/system-auth-ac.orig && cp /etc/pam.d/password-auth-ac /etc/pam.d/password-auth-ac.orig
    sudo vi /etc/pam.d/system-auth-ac
    # In the auth section, after pam_succedd_if add the following:
    auth  sufficient forward_pass
    # In the account section, after pam_succeed_if add the following:
    account  [default=bad success=ok user_unknown=ignore]
    # In the password section, after pam_unix add the following:
    password  sufficient use_authtok
    # At the beginning of the session section, ensure the following is present:
    session  required umask=0022 skel=/etc/skel/
    # In the session section, after pam_unix add the following:
    session  optional
    cp -f /etc/pam.d/system-auth-ac /etc/pam.d/password-auth-ac
  5. Create an sssd.config file and give the sudo user read and write permissions to it. The procedure is the same for each distribution discussed in this topic.

    sudo vi /etc/sssd/sssd.conf
    sudo chmod 0600 /etc/sssd/sssd.conf
  6. Open the sssd.conf file and add the following content to it. When doing so, replace serverFQDN:port with the FQDN and port of your EmpowerID LDAP server.

    config_file_version = 2
    services = nss, pam
    domains = EmpowerID
    # Debug and Enumeration should only be on for testing/troubleshooting
    # debug_level = 4
    # enumerate = True
    case_sensitive = False
    auth_provider = ldap
    id_provider = ldap
    chpass_provider = ldap
    # Set access_provder to simple to allow everyone.
    # Alternately, use ldap and set ldap_access_filter below
    # access_provider = ldap
    access_provider = simple
    # Set LDAP servers here
    ldap_uri = ldaps://serverFQDN:port
    # Set the search bases
    ldap_search_base = o=empowerid
    ldap_user_search_base = cn=people,o=empowerid
    # bind credentials
    # Run sss_obfuscate to make the password less readable
    # ldap_default_bind_dn = cn=proxyuser,ou=Service Accounts,o=empowerid
    # ldap_default_authtok = p@$$word
    # ldap_default_authtok_type = password
    # Set any attribute mappings needed here
    ldap_user_object_class = eidPerson
    ldap_user_name = uid
    ldap_user_uid_number = uidNumber
    ldap_user_gid_number = gidNumber
    ldap_user_fullname = gecos
    ldap_user_home_directory = homeDirectory
    ldap_group_object_class = eidGroup
    ldap_group_name = cn
    # If access_provider = ldap above, set the filter here to allow access
    # EXAMPLE: Allow users in server1 allow group
    # ldap_access_filter = memberof=cn=server1 allow,ou=server access,o=empowerid
    # Only allow Linus Torvalds or Stallman access to this server
    # ldap_access_filter = (|(uid=ltorvalds)(uid=rms))
  7. Turn off SELinux on CentOS and RedHat.

    setenforce 0
  8. Start the SSSD service.

    sudo service sssd start

    sudo systemctl start sssd