How to use Kerberos with 389 Directory Server

Read Me First

Please refer to and before continuing.

How do I configure 389 to use SASL and GSSAPI to authenticate against a local Kerberos realm?

This describes how to configure 389 to allow users to present their Kerberos credentials (their ticket) to 389 for authentication, using the SASL GSSAPI mechanism. This allows 389 to participate in Single Sign On - a user acquires his/her ticket via kinit or login and can use it to authenticate to various services, including 389.

This requires a previously configured Kerberos realm. We’ve tested this with MIT Kerberos 5, but other implementations such as Heimdal should also work. You need a key for the LDAP service, an appropriate SASL mapping for GSSAPI, and the cyrus-sasl-gssapi package. 389 uses the cyrus-sasl package to interface to Kerberos.


Kerberos relies heavily on the fully qualified host and domain name (FQDN) for service hosts and service principal names. Make sure all of your clients can resolve the Kerberos server host and LDAP server host by their FQDN. This usually means getting DNS working correctly on all of your server and client machines, but for testing or evaluation purposes you can usually hack /etc/hosts and /etc/nsswitch.conf to make it work correctly. When configuring aliases for hosts, the FQDN MUST COME FIRST BEFORE ANY ALIASES. That is, when IP to hostname or hostname to canonical hostname resolution is done, the very first result must be the FQDN, before any aliases. So if you have “” and an alias for it called “ldap”, you must make sure any IP address or hostname resolution for “ldap” or “” always returns “” first.

Time Sync

Kerberos will not work unless all servers and clients are in time sync. This means you must use something like NTP.


Consult your system documentation for Kerberos configuration, usually the file /etc/krb5.conf. There is usually a default one, and you should be able to use man krb5.conf to get additional information.


First, make sure that you have created a kerosene principal ldap/FQDN or ldap/FQDN@REALM. If you do not specify the @REALM part, it will use the default value from your krb5.conf (which must be the same on all clients and servers).

kadmin -q "add_principal -randkey  ldap/FQDN@REALM"    


kadmin -q "add_principal -randkey  ldap/FQDN"    

Then, export that key to a keytab file. If you’ve deployed other services which also authenticate users using Kerberos on the same system, it’s recommended that you give each one its own keytab file.

kadmin -q "ktadd -k  /etc/dirsrv/ds.keytab ldap/FQDN" # or ldap/FQDN@REALM    

The keytab file needs to be readable by the account under which the directory server runs (i.e dirsrv):

chown dirsrv:dirsrv /etc/dirsrv/ds.keytab    
chmod 600 /etc/dirsrv/ds.keytab    

Next, set the KRB5_KTNAME environment variable, so your Directory Server can find the keytab file. For FDS 1.1 and later, edit the file


and add the line below, replacing INSTANCE appropriately:

KRB5_KTNAME=/etc/dirsrv/ds.keytab ; export KRB5_KTNAME    

For a systemd system, omit the “; export KRB5_KTNAME” part.

For FDS 1.0 and earlier, you can edit the start-slapd shell script in /etc/init.d/dirsrv and set KRB5_KTNAME in there:

export KRB5_KTNAME=path_to_service_keytab    

Using Windows to generate a service keytab

Copy ldap.keytab to the directory server machine and change mode and ownership as above.


The directory server already has some default SASL/GSSAPI maps as described in So you might not have to do anything to get identity mapping working.

However, if you want/need to do your own mapping, see below.

Let’s assume your entry in the DS has the DN “dn: uid=uid,”, and assume your Kerberos realm is REALM.EDU. Then, the map would be something like this (as seen in “Managing SASL” in the Administrator’s Guide):

dn: cn=mapname,cn=mapping,cn=sasl,cn=config    
objectclass: top    
objectclass: nsSaslMapping    
cn: mapname    
nsSaslMapRegexString: \(.*\)@\(.*\)
nsSaslMapBaseDNTemplate: uid=\1,o=\2    
nsSaslMapFilterTemplate: (objectclass=inetOrgPerson)    

This assumes the Kerberos principal name being sent to the DS is in the form “username@REALM”. If this is not the case, and the realm is not being sent, you may have to use something like the following:

nsSaslMapRegexString:     \(.*\)
nsSaslMapBaseDNTemplate: uid=\1,dc=myorg,dc=tld    

where myorg and tld correspond to your domain and top level domain.

You can use a regex of the form ([^/]+)/(.+) to map kerosene principals with an instance, like service/fqdn or user/admin. For example if you want to map all services from hostname.domain to the uid=hostname.domain,ou=hosts,dc=domain you can use [\^/]+/(.+) and a map base of uid=\1,ou=hosts,dc=domain or you might want to map all principals with an admin instance to uid=user,ou=Managers,dc=domain so you’ll use ([^/]+)/admin and a mapbase of uid=\1,ou=Managers,dc=domain.

Last modified on 5 June 2024