Step by Step OpenLDAP Server Configuration on CentOS 7 / RHEL 7

OpenLDAP Server Configuration on CentOS 7
OpenLDAP Server Configuration on CentOS 7

OpenLDAP is an open-source implementation of Lightweight Directory Access Protocol developed by OpenLDAP project. LDAP is an Internet protocol that email and other programs use to look up contact information from a server. It is released under OpenLDAP public license; it is available for all major Linux distributions, AIX, Android, HP-UX, OS X, Solaris, Windows and z/OS.

It functions like a relational database in certain ways and can be used to store any information. LDAP is not limited to store the information; it is also used as a backend database for “single sign-on” where one password for a user is shared between many services.

In this tutorial, we will configure OpenLDAP for centralized login where the users use the single account to log in on multiple servers.


Host Name IP Address OS Purpose
server.itzgeek.local CentOS 7 LDAP Server
client.itzgeek.local CentOS 7 LDAP Client


1. Make sure both LDAP server “server.itzgeek.local” ( and LDAP client “client.itzgeek.local” ( are accessible.

2. Make an entry for each machines in /etc/hosts for name resolution.

vi /etc/hosts server.itzgeek.local server client.itzgeek.local client


If you plan to use server name instead of IP address, configure DNS server using article on How to Configure DNS Server on RHEL7.

Here I will use IP address for all the configuration.

Install LDAP:

Install the following LDAP RPM packages to get started. Run below command on LDAP server (server.itzgeek.local).

yum -y install openldap compat-openldap openldap-clients openldap-servers openldap-servers-sql openldap-devel

Start the LDAP service and enable it for the auto start of service on system boot.

systemctl start slapd.service
systemctl enable slapd.service

Verify the LDAP.

netstat -antup | grep -i 389

tcp        0      0   *               LISTEN      1520/slapd          
tcp6       0      0 :::389                  :::*                    LISTEN      1520/slapd

Setup LDAP root password:

Run below command to create an LDAP root password; we will use this root password throughout this article. So make a note of this and keep it aside.

[root@server ~]# slappasswd
New password: 
Re-enter new password: 
[root@server ~]#

Configure OpenLDAP server:

OpenLDAP servers configuration files are found in /etc/openldap/slapd.d/. To start with the configuration of LDAP, we would need to update the variables “olcSuffix” and “olcRootDN“.

olcSuffix –  Database Suffix, it is the domain name for which the LDAP server provides the information. In simple words, it should be changed to your domain

olcRootDN – Root Distinguished Name (DN) entry for the user who has the unrestricted access to perform all administration activities on LDAP, like a root user.

olcRootPW – Password for the above RootDN.

Above entries are to be updated in /etc/openldap/slapd.d/cn=config/olcDatabase={2}hdb.ldif file. Manually edit of LDAP configuration is not recommended as you will lose changes whenever you run ldapmodify command.

Please create a .ldif file and add the below entries.

# vi db.ldif

dn: olcDatabase={2}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcSuffix
olcSuffix: dc=itzgeek,dc=local

dn: olcDatabase={2}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcRootDN
olcRootDN: cn=ldapadm,dc=itzgeek,dc=local

dn: olcDatabase={2}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcRootPW

Once you are done with the ldif file, send the configuration to the LDAP server.

ldapmodify -Y EXTERNAL  -H ldapi:/// -f db.ldif

Make a changes to /etc/openldap/slapd.d/cn=config/olcDatabase={1}monitor.ldif (Do not edit manually) file to restrict the monitor access only to ldap root (ldapadm) user not to others.

# vi monitor.ldif

dn: olcDatabase={1}monitor,cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcAccess
olcAccess: {0}to * by dn.base="gidNumber=0+uidNumber=0,cn=peercred,cn=external, cn=auth" read by dn.base="cn=ldapadm,dc=itzgeek,dc=local" read by * none

Once you have updated the file, send the configuration to the LDAP server.

ldapmodify -Y EXTERNAL  -H ldapi:/// -f monitor.ldif

Create LDAP certificate:

Let’s create a self-signed certificate for our LDAP server, below command generates both certificate and private key in /etc/openldap/certs/ directory.

openssl req -new -x509 -nodes -out /etc/openldap/certs/itzgeekldapcert.pem -keyout /etc/openldap/certs/itzgeekldapkey.pem -days 365

Generating a 2048 bit RSA private key
writing new private key to '/etc/openldap/certs/itzgeekldapkey.pem'
You are about to be asked to enter information that will be incorporated
into your certificate request.
What you are about to enter is what is called a Distinguished Name or a DN.
There are quite a few fields but you can leave some blank
For some fields there will be a default value,
If you enter '.', the field will be left blank.
Country Name (2 letter code) [XX]: XX
State or Province Name (full name) []: XX
Locality Name (eg, city) [Default City]: XXXXXX
Organization Name (eg, company) [Default Company Ltd]:ITzGeek
Organizational Unit Name (eg, section) []:IT Infra
Common Name (eg, your name or your server's hostname) []:server.itzgeek.local
Email Address []

Set the owner and group permissions to ldap.

chown -R ldap:ldap /etc/openldap/certs/*.pem

Verify the created LDAP certificate under /etc/openldap/certs/.

ll /etc/openldap/certs/*.pem
-rw-r--r--. 1 ldap ldap 1440 Oct 10 02:31 /etc/openldap/certs/itzgeekldapcert.pem
-rw-r--r--. 1 ldap ldap 1704 Oct 10 02:31 /etc/openldap/certs/itzgeekldapkey.pem

Create certs.ldif file to configure LDAP to use secure communication using a self-signed certificate.

# vi certs.ldif

dn: cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcTLSCertificateFile
olcTLSCertificateFile: /etc/openldap/certs/itzgeekldapcert.pem

dn: cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcTLSCertificateKeyFile
olcTLSCertificateKeyFile: /etc/openldap/certs/itzgeekldapkey.pem

Import the configurations to LDAP server.

ldapmodify -Y EXTERNAL  -H ldapi:/// -f certs.ldif

Verify the configuration:

slaptest -u

You should get the following message confirms the verification is complete.

config file testing succeeded

Set up LDAP database:

Copy the sample database configuration file to /var/lib/ldap and update the file permissions.

cp /usr/share/openldap-servers/DB_CONFIG.example /var/lib/ldap/DB_CONFIG
chown ldap:ldap /var/lib/ldap/*

Add the cosine and nis LDAP schemas.

ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f /etc/openldap/schema/cosine.ldif
ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f /etc/openldap/schema/nis.ldif 
ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f /etc/openldap/schema/inetorgperson.ldif

Generate base.ldif file for your domain.

# vi base.ldif

dn: dc=itzgeek,dc=local
dc: itzgeek
objectClass: top
objectClass: domain

dn: cn=ldapadm ,dc=itzgeek,dc=local
objectClass: organizationalRole
cn: ldapadm
description: LDAP Manager

dn: ou=People,dc=itzgeek,dc=local
objectClass: organizationalUnit
ou: People

dn: ou=Group,dc=itzgeek,dc=local
objectClass: organizationalUnit
ou: Group

Build the directory structure.

ldapadd -x -W -D "cn=ldapadm,dc=itzgeek,dc=local" -f base.ldif
ldapadd command will prompt you for the password of ldapadm (LDAP root user).


Enter LDAP Password: 
adding new entry "dc=itzgeek,dc=local"

adding new entry "cn=ldapadm ,dc=itzgeek,dc=local"

adding new entry "ou=People,dc=itzgeek,dc=local"

adding new entry "ou=Group,dc=itzgeek,dc=local"
Step by Step OpenLDAP Server Configuration on CentOS 7 / RHEL 7
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  • Hamdan Radaideh

    i got error when i tried to start the ldap service .. bad configration file

  • abigal

    I did receive anything with getent, but get no errors.

  • Santosh Reddy Malyala

    everything working fine.But i cannot login from gui ldapuser1. i can switch all other users from root. I cannot login directly ldap users from gui

  • Easy to follow clear guide

  • I get the following error:

    slaptest -u
    5952455c UNKNOWN attributeDescription “CHANGETYPE” inserted.
    5952455c UNKNOWN attributeDescription “REPLACE” inserted.
    5952455c is_entry_objectclass(“cn=config,cn=config”, “2.16.840.1.113730.3.2.6”) no objectClass attribute
    5952455c is_entry_objectclass(“olcDatabase={2}hdb,cn=config,cn=config”, “2.16.840.1.113730.3.2.6”) no objectClass attribute
    5952455c is_entry_objectclass(“olcDatabase={1}monitor,cn=config,cn=config”, “2.16.840.1.113730.3.2.6”) no objectClass attribute