Category Archives: Solaris 10

Sun pam_ldap/pam_unix and correct subtree LDAP searches

Though addressed in the context JES Messaging this post is really about getting Sun’s pam_ldap or pam_unix to do what some might consider correct subtree searches. Read on:

If you’re using JES messaging with hosted domains you have an ldap tree that looks like this:,o=isp;,o=isp; etc.

so your user DNs look like this: uid=morgan,ou=people,o=firstdomain,o=isp; uid=matt,ou=people,o=seconddomain,o=isp; etc.

Under normal circumstances you would supply a basedn of “o=isp,” a scope of “sub,” and the application would search all of your hosted domains in search of the username.

Sun’s pam_ldap (and I believe pam_unix) prepend “ou=people” before doing a search. So if you specify “o=isp,” pam_ldap will search within “ou=people, o=isp” which either doesn’t exist or is empty.

After searching for a way to specify multiple base dns in the ldap profile (defaultSearchBase is SINGLE-VALUE in objectclass DUAConfigProfile) it turns out there is a straightforward work-around. From the ldapclient(1) man page:

           Override the default base DN for LDAP searches  for  a
           given  service.  The  format  of  the descriptors also
           allow overriding the default search scope  and  search
           filter  for  each  service. The syntax of serviceSear-
           chDescriptor is defined in  the  profile  IETF  draft.
           The  default value for all services is NULL. This is a
           multivalued attribute. In the example,


           the LDAP  client  would  do  a  one  level  search  in
           ou=people,dc=a1,dc=acme,dc=com       rather       than
           ou=people,defaultSearchBase for the passwd service.

So set serviceSearchDescriptor=passwd:o=isp and it will search under o=isp, allowing users in all of your hosted domains to authenticate. Of course this does open you up to problems where uids can conflict.