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O'Reilly Network: Getting Started with LDAP

Nov 13, 2001, 13:50 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Luke A. Kanies)

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"This article was much more difficult than I expected. I initially began with an in-depth explanation of LDAP as a protocol, but realized that the real goal here is to be able to work with LDAP right now, not after reading 50 pages of abstract explanations.

So with that goal in mind, we're going to start working with LDAP in a semi-real work environment. Specifically, we're going to set up a basic LDAP directory to store Unix user accounts, along with a script to pull those accounts to a Unix system -- that is one of the things for which you can and should use LDAP. This will also be useful to demonstrate that even if your version of Unix can't authenticate directly off LDAP, you can still store your users in LDAP and get all the benefits that come with that.

As mentioned in my previous article, LDAP was developed as a method of consolidating access, authentication, and authorization (AAA, or Triple-A) information. By itself, this is useful, because you are maintaining all of the information in one place rather than many. However, you could have accomplished the same thing using any old database. What makes LDAP especially suited to store your AAA information is that all LDAP operations take place within the context of the AAA information, rather than forcing the application to supply or interpret the context. Operations fail or succeed with no need for the application to understand the rules involved."

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