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Relatively often the OpenLDAP server (slapd) behaves a bit strange.

While it is little bit slow (I didn't do a benchmark but Active Directory seemed to be a bit faster but has other quirks is Windows only) with a small amount of users it's fine. slapd is the reference implementation of the LDAP protocol and I didn't expect it to be much better.

Some years ago slapd migrated to a different configuration style - instead of a configuration file and a required restart after every change made, it now uses an additional database for "live" configuration which also allows the deployment of multiple servers with the same configuration (I guess this is nice for larger setups). Many documentations online do not reflect the new configuration and so using the new configuration style requires some knowledge of LDAP itself.
It is possible to revert to the old file based method but the possibility might be removed by any future version - and restarts may take a little bit longer. So I guess, don't do that?

To access the configuration over the network (only using the command line on the server to edit the configuration is sometimes a bit... annoying) an additional internal user has to be created in the configuration database (while working on the local machine as root you are authenticated over a unix domain socket). I mean, I had to creat an administration user during the installation of the service but apparently this only for the main database...

The password in the configuration can be hashed as usual - but strangely it does only accept hashes of some passwords (a hashed version of "123456" is accepted but not hashes of different password, I mean what the...?) so I have to use a single plaintext password... (secure password hashing works for normal user and normal admin accounts).

But even worse are the default logging options: By default (atleast on Debian) the log level is set to DEBUG. Additionally if slapd detects optimization opportunities it writes them to the logs - at least once per connection, if not per query. Together with an application that did alot of connections and queries (this was not intendet and got fixed later) THIS RESULTED IN 32 GB LOG FILES IN ≤ 24 HOURS! - enough to fill up the disk and to crash other services (lessons learned: add more monitoring, monitoring, and monitoring and /var/log should be an extra partition). I mean logging optimization hints is certainly nice - it runs faster now (again, I did not do any benchmarks) - but ther verbosity was way too high.

The worst parts are the error messages: When entering a query string with a syntax errors, slapd returns the error code 80 without any additional text - the documentation reveals SO MUCH BETTER meaning: "other error", THIS IS SO HELPFULL... In the end I was able to find the reason why the input was rejected but in my experience the most error messages are little bit more precise.

Comments
  • 1
    OMG why are you still using slapd?! I remember how every update was a breaking change; ditched that shit back in like 2010.

    There are lots of other much better directories. You ever look at 389 Directory Server?
  • 0
    @djsumdog You are absolutely right about that... I probably should've ditched it directly.

    Maybe I find time to migrate to 389.

    The reason why I started using it in the first place: When I started using it, I had no idea of LDAP and comparison of servers (I knew Active Directory exists but I don't use a Windows server) but I a central user database for multiple services is nice - using an LDAP server seemed the way to go. The most introductions to this topic either cover OpenLDAP's slapd or Active Directory. As the latter was no choice for me I ended up with slapd.
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