Storing Samba's User/Machine Account information in an LDAP Directory


This document describes how to use an LDAP directory for storing Samba user account information traditionally stored in the smbpasswd(5) file. It is assumed that the reader already has a basic understanding of LDAP concepts and has a working directory server already installed. For more information on LDAP architectures and Directories, please refer to the following sites.

Note that O'Reilly Publishing is working on a guide to LDAP for System Administrators which has a planned release date of early summer, 2002.

Two additional Samba resources which may prove to be helpful are


Traditionally, when configuring "encrypt passwords = yes" in Samba's smb.conf file, user account information such as username, LM/NT password hashes, password change times, and account flags have been stored in the smbpasswd(5) file. There are several disadvantages to this approach for sites with very large numbers of users (counted in the thousands).

As a result of these defeciencies, a more robust means of storing user attributes used by smbd was developed. The API which defines access to user accounts is commonly referred to as the samdb interface (previously this was called the passdb API, and is still so named in the CVS trees). In Samba 2.2.3, enabling support for a samdb backend (e.g. --with-ldapsam or --with-tdbsam) requires compile time support.

When compiling Samba to include the --with-ldapsam autoconf option, smbd (and associated tools) will store and lookup user accounts in an LDAP directory. In reality, this is very easy to understand. If you are comfortable with using an smbpasswd file, simply replace "smbpasswd" with "LDAP directory" in all the documentation.

There are a few points to stress about what the --with-ldapsam does not provide. The LDAP support referred to in the this documentation does not include:

The second item can be accomplished by using LDAP NSS and PAM modules. LGPL versions of these libraries can be obtained from PADL Software ( However, the details of configuring these packages are beyond the scope of this document.

Supported LDAP Servers

The LDAP samdb code in 2.2.3 has been developed and tested using the OpenLDAP 2.0 server and client libraries. The same code should be able to work with Netscape's Directory Server and client SDK. However, due to lack of testing so far, there are bound to be compile errors and bugs. These should not be hard to fix. If you are so inclined, please be sure to forward all patches to and

Schema and Relationship to the RFC 2307 posixAccount

Samba 2.2.3 includes the necessary schema file for OpenLDAP 2.0 in examples/LDAP/samba.schema. (Note that this schema file has been modified since the experimental support initially included in 2.2.2). The sambaAccount objectclass is given here:

objectclass ( NAME 'sambaAccount' SUP top STRUCTURAL
     DESC 'Samba Account'
     MUST ( uid $ rid )
     MAY  ( cn $ lmPassword $ ntPassword $ pwdLastSet $ logonTime $
            logoffTime $ kickoffTime $ pwdCanChange $ pwdMustChange $ acctFlags $
            displayName $ smbHome $ homeDrive $ scriptPath $ profilePath $
            description $ userWorkstations $ primaryGroupID $ domain ))

The samba.schema file has been formatted for OpenLDAP 2.0. The OID's are owned by the Samba Team and as such is legal to be openly published. If you translate the schema to be used with Netscape DS, please submit the modified schema file as a patch to

Just as the smbpasswd file is mean to store information which supplements a user's /etc/passwd entry, so is the sambaAccount object meant to supplement the UNIX user account information. A sambaAccount is a STRUCTURAL objectclass so it can be stored individually in the directory. However, there are several fields (e.g. uid) which overlap with the posixAccount objectclass outlined in RFC2307. This is by design.

In order to store all user account information (UNIX and Samba) in the directory, it is necessary to use the sambaAccount and posixAccount objectclasses in combination. However, smbd will still obtain the user's UNIX account information via the standard C library calls (e.g. getpwnam(), et. al.). This means that the Samba server must also have the LDAP NSS library installed and functioning correctly. This division of information makes it possible to store all Samba account information in LDAP, but still maintain UNIX account information in NIS while the network is transitioning to a full LDAP infrastructure.

Configuring Samba with LDAP

OpenLDAP configuration

To include support for the sambaAccount object in an OpenLDAP directory server, first copy the samba.schema file to slapd's configuration directory.

root# cp samba.schema /etc/openldap/schema/

Next, include the samba.schema file in slapd.conf. The sambaAccount object contains two attributes which depend upon other schema files. The 'uid' attribute is defined in cosine.schema and the 'displayName' attribute is defined in the inetorgperson.schema file. Both of these must be included before the samba.schema file.

## /etc/openldap/slapd.conf

## schema files (core.schema is required by default)
include	           /etc/openldap/schema/core.schema

## needed for sambaAccount
include            /etc/openldap/schema/cosine.schema
include            /etc/openldap/schema/inetorgperson.schema
include            /etc/openldap/schema/samba.schema

## uncomment this line if you want to support the RFC2307 (NIS) schema
## include         /etc/openldap/schema/nis.schema


It is recommended that you maintain some indices on some of the most usefull attributes, like in the following example, to speed up searches made on sambaAccount objectclasses (and possibly posixAccount and posixGroup as well).

# Indices to maintain
## required by OpenLDAP 2.0
index objectclass   eq

## support pb_getsampwnam()
index uid           pres,eq
## support pdb_getsambapwrid()
index rid           eq

## uncomment these if you are storing posixAccount and
## posixGroup entries in the directory as well
##index uidNumber     eq
##index gidNumber     eq
##index cn            eq
##index memberUid     eq

Configuring Samba

The following parameters are available in smb.conf only with --with-ldapsam was included with compiling Samba.

These are described in the smb.conf(5) man page and so will not be repeated here. However, a sample smb.conf file for use with an LDAP directory could appear as

## /usr/local/samba/lib/smb.conf
     security = user
     encrypt passwords = yes

     netbios name = TASHTEGO
     workgroup = NARNIA

     # ldap related parameters

     # define the DN to use when binding to the directory servers
     # The password for this DN is not stored in smb.conf.  Rather it
     # must be set by using 'smbpasswd -w secretpw' to store the
     # passphrase in the secrets.tdb file.  If the "ldap admin dn" values
     # changes, this password will need to be reset.
     ldap admin dn = "cn=Samba Manager,ou=people,dc=samba,dc=org"

     #  specify the LDAP server's hostname (defaults to locahost)
     ldap server =

     # Define the SSL option when connecting to the directory
     # ('off', 'start tls', or 'on' (default))
     ldap ssl = start tls

     # define the port to use in the LDAP session (defaults to 636 when
     # "ldap ssl = on")
     ldap port = 389

     # specify the base DN to use when searching the directory
     ldap suffix = "ou=people,dc=samba,dc=org"

     # generally the default ldap search filter is ok
     # ldap filter = "(&(uid=%u)(objectclass=sambaAccount))"

Accounts and Groups management

As users accounts are managed thru the sambaAccount objectclass, you should modify you existing administration tools to deal with sambaAccount attributes.

Machines accounts are managed with the sambaAccount objectclass, just like users accounts. However, it's up to you to stored thoses accounts in a different tree of you LDAP namespace: you should use "ou=Groups,dc=plainjoe,dc=org" to store groups and "ou=People,dc=plainjoe,dc=org" to store users. Just configure your NSS and PAM accordingly (usually, in the /etc/ldap.conf configuration file).

In Samba release 2.2.3, the group management system is based on posix groups. This meand that Samba make usage of the posixGroup objectclass. For now, there is no NT-like group system management (global and local groups).

Security and sambaAccount

There are two important points to remember when discussing the security of sambaAccount entries in the directory.

These password hashes are clear text equivalents and can be used to impersonate the user without deriving the original clear text strings. For more information on the details of LM/NT password hashes, refer to the ENCRYPTION chapter of the Samba-HOWTO-Collection.

To remedy the first security issue, the "ldap ssl" smb.conf parameter defaults to require an encrypted session (ldap ssl = on) using the default port of 636 when contacting the directory server. When using an OpenLDAP 2.0 server, it is possible to use the use the StartTLS LDAP extended operation in the place of LDAPS. In either case, you are strongly discouraged to disable this security (ldap ssl = off).

Note that the LDAPS protocol is deprecated in favor of the LDAPv3 StartTLS extended operation. However, the OpenLDAP library still provides support for the older method of securing communication between clients and servers.

The second security precaution is to prevent non-administrative users from harvesting password hashes from the directory. This can be done using the following ACL in slapd.conf:

## allow the "ldap admin dn" access, but deny everyone else
access to attrs=lmPassword,ntPassword
     by dn="cn=Samba Admin,ou=people,dc=plainjoe,dc=org" write
     by * none

LDAP specials attributes for sambaAccounts

The sambaAccount objectclass is composed of the following attributes:

The majority of these parameters are only used when Samba is acting as a PDC of a domain (refer to the Samba-PDC-HOWTO for details on how to configure Samba as a Primary Domain Controller). The following four attributes are only stored with the sambaAccount entry if the values are non-default values:

These attributes are only stored with the sambaAccount entry if the values are non-default values. For example, assume TASHTEGO has now been configured as a PDC and that logon home = \\%L\%u was defined in its smb.conf file. When a user named "becky" logons to the domain, the logon home string is expanded to \\TASHTEGO\becky. If the smbHome attribute exists in the entry "uid=becky,ou=people,dc=samba,dc=org", this value is used. However, if this attribute does not exist, then the value of the logon home parameter is used in its place. Samba will only write the attribute value to the directory entry is the value is something other than the default (e.g. \\MOBY\becky).

Example LDIF Entries for a sambaAccount

The following is a working LDIF with the inclusion of the posixAccount objectclass:

dn: uid=guest2, ou=people,dc=plainjoe,dc=org
ntPassword: 878D8014606CDA29677A44EFA1353FC7
pwdMustChange: 2147483647
primaryGroupID: 1201
lmPassword: 552902031BEDE9EFAAD3B435B51404EE
pwdLastSet: 1010179124
logonTime: 0
objectClass: sambaAccount
uid: guest2
kickoffTime: 2147483647
acctFlags: [UX         ]
logoffTime: 2147483647
rid: 19006
pwdCanChange: 0

The following is an LDIF entry for using both the sambaAccount and posixAccount objectclasses:

dn: uid=gcarter, ou=people,dc=plainjoe,dc=org
logonTime: 0
displayName: Gerald Carter
lmPassword: 552902031BEDE9EFAAD3B435B51404EE
primaryGroupID: 1201
objectClass: posixAccount
objectClass: sambaAccount
acctFlags: [UX         ]
userPassword: {crypt}BpM2ej8Rkzogo
uid: gcarter
uidNumber: 9000
cn: Gerald Carter
loginShell: /bin/bash
logoffTime: 2147483647
gidNumber: 100
kickoffTime: 2147483647
pwdLastSet: 1010179230
rid: 19000
homeDirectory: /home/tashtego/gcarter
pwdCanChange: 0
pwdMustChange: 2147483647
ntPassword: 878D8014606CDA29677A44EFA1353FC7


Please mail all comments regarding this HOWTO to This documents was last updated to reflect the Samba 2.2.3 release.