Configure OpenLDAP login for CentOS 7

October 01, 2022

It is easy to create local accounts for a linux machine, but it's a disaster for you to create and manage numerous accounts for thousands of machines. With OpenLDAP, you can store accounts in OpenLDAP server, and you can use these accounts to login to all of your machines. Such centralization helps you manage accounts easily & reuse created accounts to login new accounts.

In this guide, I will share how to configure the host to use OpenLDAP to do the authentication.


You need to have a OpenLDAP server and an account which belongs to posixAccount and shadowAccount. This guide will help you meet the prerequisites.


Create Service Account (Optional) on the server

If you disable anonymous bind on the LDAP server as this guide, you need to create a service account & put service account credentials in a configuration file of the host. One of the packages the host use to authenticate to the OpenLDAP server (nss-pam-ldapd) will perform anonymous bind to the OpenLDAP server & check if the account we try to login exists or not. As we disable anonymous bind, we need to supplement a service account credentials to nss-pam-ldapd to do authenticated bind instead.

Create a service account, uid=svc,ou=People,dc=abc,dc=local

cat > svc.ldif << EOF
dn: uid=svc,ou=People,dc=abc,dc=local
objectClass: inetOrgPerson
objectClass: posixAccount
objectClass: shadowAccount
uid: svc
sn: svc
cn: svc
uidNumber: 90001
gidNumber: 90001
homeDirectory: /home/svc
shadowMin: 0
shadowMax: 9999
shadowWarning: 7
userPassword: {CRYPT}x
shadowLastChange: 20000

sudo ldapadd -x -W -D "cn=admin,dc=abc,dc=local" -f svc.ldif # replace cn=admin,dc=abc,dc=local by your admin cn

sudo ldappasswd -x -D cn=admin,dc=abc,dc=local -W -S uid=svc,ou=People,dc=abc,dc=local # Change password of service account

sudo ldapsearch -x -LLL -b dc=abc,dc=local '(uid=svc)' -D cn=admin,dc=abc,dc=local -W # Verify if service account is created

Create service account

Install OpenLDAP client and Name Service Switch (NSS) module on the host

OpenLDAP client allows us to communicate with OpenLDAP servers & NSS module does identity and authentication management.

sudo yum install -y openldap-clients nss-pam-ldapd

Configure OpenLDAP authentication on the host

Configure the host to use OpenLDAP for user login

sudo authconfig --enableldap --enableldapauth --ldapserver=<<your-openLDAP-server-ip>> --ldapbasedn="dc=<<your-dc>>,dc=<<your-dc>>" --enablemkhomedir --update

Configure OpenLDAP authentication (Optional) If you disable anonymous bind, add the credentials of service account you just created for nslcd service to do authenticated bind

sudo sed 's/^#binddn.*/binddn uid=svc,ou=People,dc=abc,dc=local/' /etc/nslcd.conf -i
sudo sed 's/^#bindpw.*/bindpw <<password>>/' /etc/nslcd.conf -i

User login Restart the service

sudo systemctl restart nslcd

Test LDAP login on the host

su - joe

User login You are asked to change the password in the first login because we set shadowLastChange as 0.


In this guide, I share the benefit of using accounts in centralized OpenLDAP server for machine login, how to configure host to allow accounts in OpenLDAP server to login your host and advanced configuration for OpenLDAP server which disable anonymous bind.



© 2021 — created by Joe