RedHat Enterprise Linux 5 Microsoft Active Directory Authentication

Today I set out to get RHEL 5.x (Specifically 5.5) to authenticate from a Windows 2003 R2 Active Directory. I used plenty of web pages, none of which were 100% correct for my setup, so I thought I’d document exactly what I did here for my own future reference, if anybody else finds it useful, so much the better. To start with, thanks to the following pages, between them, they got me about 80% of the way there:

  • Scott Lowe has a useful howto here. It is version 4 currently, click around his site to ensure he hasnt updated it before you use it as a reference.
  • The second resource I used is here.

Required RPMs

You need a few packages installed, some of which are likely to be installed already, some not. The ones I have, with their versions are:

  • nss_ldap-253-25.el5
  • krb5-libs-1.6.1-36.el5_5.6
  • openldap-2.3.43-12.el5_5.3
  • ntp-4.2.2p1-9.el5.centos.2.1

I also found it useful to have openldap-clients-2.3.43-12.el5_5.3 installed as well, because that gives you ldapsearch, which is handy for debugging and testing things.


In all of the following these names have been used:

  • bindaccount – The name of the simple account inside AD for binding
  • – The DNS name of my domain
  • ONEONETWO – The other (windows!?) name of my domain
  • – the fqdn of my AD
  • dc=112,dc=riviera,dc=org,dc=uk – My BaseDN, (I used the handy ldp.exe to find this, from this KB Article)

Active Directory

The blog post from Scott Lowe, explains about adding in the “Server for NIS” stuff into Windows, so I wont go into that here. Suffice to say, in any practical sense, you need it installed. One other thing to note is that the DNS service on the AD machines really likes to know about your new linux client. I created a A record with the associated PTR record for all the new Linux clients which were going to join the domain. Doing this before you start makes life easier later. I added a couple of test users into AD before starting to configure the Linux end too, the settings on ‘UNIX Attributes’ tab are shown below

Linux Setup

Before touching any config files make sure your client has its own IP and FQDN listed in /etc/hosts. Also make sure time is syncronised with AD, a default AD install puts a time server up for you, so you could use that, whatever you use, make sure they are in sync. The files I modified and what they ended up looking like are as follows, in all cases except for nsswitch.conf these are the entire files, so feel free to copy and paste and kill what is already there.


This file configures the openldap clients, not strictly neccerssary, but useful to ensure you can talk ldap to your AD. Once this file is written you should be able to query AD with the following command

ldapsearch -x -LLL -E pr=200/noprompt -D "" -w $PASSWORD -s sub "(cn=*)" cn mail sn

I’ve put my password in a bash variable, just replace $PASSWORD with yours, if this fails then try the full command, which wont be using any defaults from /etc/openldap/ldap.conf:

ldapsearch -x -LLL -E pr=200/noprompt -h -D "" -w $PASSWORD -b "dc=112,dc=riviera,dc=org,dc=uk" -s sub "(cn=*)" cn mail sn

If that also fails you might want to try telneting to the LDAP port on the AD box, to see if that is open

My ldap.conf only has the following in it:

URI ldap://
BASE dc=112,dc=riviera,dc=org,dc=uk


default = FILE:/var/log/krb5libs.log
kdc = FILE:/var/log/krb5kdc.log
admin_server = FILE:/var/log/kadmind.log

default_realm = 112.RIVIERA.ORG.UK
dns_lookup_realm = false
dns_lookup_kdc = false
ticket_lifetime = 24h
forwardable = yes

kdc =
admin_server =
default_domain =

[domain_realm] = 112.RIVIERA.ORG.UK = 112.RIVIERA.ORG.UK

pam = {
debug = false
ticket_lifetime = 36000
renew_lifetime = 36000
forwardable = true
krb4_convert = false


base dc=112,dc=riviera,dc=org,dc=uk
scope sub
ssl no
timelimit 10
bind_timelimit 10
idle_timelimit 3600
nss_initgroups_ignoreusers root,ldap,named,avahi,haldaemon,dbus,radvd,tomcat,radiusd,news,mailman,nscd,gdm
nss_base_passwd dc=112,dc=riviera,dc=org,dc=uk?sub
nss_base_shadow dc=112,dc=riviera,dc=org,dc=uk?sub
nss_base_group dc=112,dc=riviera,dc=org,dc=uk?sub?&(objectCategory=group)(gidnumber=*)
nss_map_objectclass posixAccount user
nss_map_objectclass shadowAccount user
nss_map_objectclass posixGroup group
nss_map_attribute gecos cn
nss_map_attribute homeDirectory unixHomeDirectory
nss_map_attribute uniqueMember member


# This file is auto-generated.
# User changes will be destroyed the next time authconfig is run.
auth required
auth sufficient nullok try_first_pass
auth requisite uid >= 500 quiet
auth sufficient use_first_pass
auth sufficient use_first_pass
auth required

account required
account sufficient uid < 500 quiet
account [default=bad success=ok user_unknown=ignore]
account [default=bad success=ok user_unknown=ignore]
account required

password requisite try_first_pass retry=3
password sufficient md5 shadow nullok try_first_pass use_authtok
password sufficient use_authtok
password sufficient use_authtok
password required

session required /lib/security/ skel=/etc/skel/ umask=0022
session optional revoke
session required
session [success=1 default=ignore] service in crond quiet use_uid
session required
session optional
session optional


I have not included all of nsswitch.conf here because I only changed the following three lines. Simply add ldap after files for each.

passwd: files ldap
shadow: files ldap
group: files ldap


workgroup = ONEONETWO
security = ads
realm =
use kerberos keytab = true
password server =


When all that is done and working you should be able to run ‘getent passwd ‘ and have it return your passwd file entry from AD. You should also be able to su to the user, and login via either console or SSH. If the users home directory isnt created, pam should create it for you.

Next on my list is to make all this work with encrypted LDAP.

2 thoughts on “RedHat Enterprise Linux 5 Microsoft Active Directory Authentication

  1. Timbo

    Nice guide dude, I could have also helped you with this. All our RHEL boxes at work authenticate via AD. It’s great… once you go through the pain of getting it working as you have discovered. 🙂

    Let me know when you get round to RHEL6, it uses “sssd” instead of krb5/pam/ldap. Different setup but I have it all working, except for properly enumerating auxillary groups but that’s fixed in SSSD 1.2.2. I had to create my own RPM for that, Red Hat said the fix will come out in a future release though.

  2. robin

    Aha, I should have popped you a mail, oh well its all working now. Thankfully we are holding off on RHEL6 for a while, so I wont have that headache to deal with.

    The next step is getting SSL LDAP to work, but for that I need to enable it on my AD, which is proving tricky, makes me realise how much I dont know about Windows !

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