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Samba HowTo Guide
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Comments Regarding LDAP

There is much excitement and interest in LDAP directories in the information technology world today. The LDAP architecture was designed to be highly scalable. It was also designed for use across a huge number of potential areas of application encompassing a wide range of operating systems and platforms. LDAP technologies are at the heart of the current generations of Federated Identity Management (FIM) solutions that can underlie a corporate Single Sign-On (SSO) environment.

LDAP implementations have been built across a wide variety of platforms. It lies at the core of Microsoft Windows Active Directory services (ADS), Novell's eDirectory, as well as many others. Implementation of the directory services LDAP involves interaction with legacy as well as new generation applications, all of which depend on some form of authentication services.

UNIX services can utilize LDAP directory information for authentication and access controls through intermediate tools and utilities. The total environment that consists of the LDAP directory and the middle-ware tools and utilities makes it possible for all user access to the UNIX platform to be managed from a central environment and yet distributed to wherever the point of need may be physically located. Applications that benefit from this infrastructure include: UNIX login shells, mail and messaging systems, quota controls, printing systems, DNS servers, DHCP servers, and also Samba.

Many sites are installing LDAP for the first time in order to provide a scalable passdb backend for Samba. Others are faced with the need to adapt an existing LDAP directory to new uses such as for the Samba SAM backend. Whatever your particular need and attraction to Samba may be, decisions made in respect of the design of the LDAP directory structure and its implementation are of a durable nature for the site. These have far-reaching implications that affect long-term information systems management costs.

Do not rush into an LDAP deployment. Take the time to understand how the design of the Directory Information Tree (DIT) may impact current and future site needs, as well as the ability to meet them. The way that Samba SAM information should be stored within the DIT varies from site to site and with each implementation new experience is gained. It is well understood by LDAP veterans that first implementations create awakening, second implementations of LDAP create fear, and third-generation deployments bring peace and tranquility.

Caution Regarding LDAP and Samba

Samba requires UNIX POSIX identity information as well as a place to store information that is specific to Samba and the Windows networking environment. The most used information that must be dealt with includes: user accounts, group accounts, machine trust accounts, interdomain trust accounts, and intermediate information specific to Samba internals.

The example deployment guidelines in this book, as well as other books and HOWTO documents available from the internet may not fit with established directory designs and implementations. The existing DIT may not be able to accommodate the simple information layout proposed in common sources. Additionally, you may find that the common scripts and tools that are used to provision the LDAP directory for use with Samba may not suit your needs.

It is not uncommon, for sites that have existing LDAP DITs to find necessity to generate a set of site-specific scripts and utilities to make it possible to deploy Samba within the scope of site operations. The way that user and group accounts are distributed throughout the DIT may make this a challenging matter. The solution will, of course, be rewarding, but the journey to it may be challenging. Take time to understand site needs and do not rush into deployment.

Above all, do not blindly use scripts and tools that are not suitable for your site. Check and validate all scripts before you execute them to make sure that the existing infrastructure will not be damaged by inadvertent use of an inappropriate tool.

Samba HowTo Guide
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