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LDAP Directories Explained: An Introduction and Analysis

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LDAP Directories Explained: An Introduction and Analysis


  • Sorry, this book is no longer in print.
Not for Sale


  • Copyright 2003
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 432
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-201-78792-X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-201-78792-4

Directory services matter to nearly every organization because they help centrally manage information and thereby reduce the costs of computing services. LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) is a set of protocols that have become the internet standard for accessing directories. Many people need to understand directory services and LDAP in order to make decisions for their business. The books currently available are too advanced for technical managers and those new to directory services. This book is designed to fill that need. The author spends the first half of the book exploring how directory services and LDAP work and then the second half discussing the most popular implementations - OpenLDAP, Microsoft Active Directory, and Directory Server - for those who are trying to compare products. This book provides the technical foundation that will enable IT managers to make sound business decisions and developers to move on to more advanced books.

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Table of Contents





1 Overview of LDAP.

Introducing Directories.


Content and Usefulness.

Benefits of a Directory.

Introducing LDAP.






Vendor LDAP Products.

Why Choose LDAP?

2 LDAPNamespace.


DNS Hierarchy.

DNS Resolution.

Basic DNS Record Types.

How LDAP Uses DNS.

LDAP Object Structure.

Allowed Structures.


Structure Rules.

Naming Contexts.

LDAP Object Naming.

Relative Distinguished Name (RDN).

Naming Attributes.

Distinguished Name (DN).

Naming Special Characters.


LDAP v2 Naming Conventions.

Special LDAP Structural Concepts.


3. Client LDAP Operations.

Directory-Enabled Services and Applications.


Mandatory Search Parameters.

Optional Search Parameters.

Search Filters.




LDAP Client Options.



Appendix Material.

4. LDAPSchema.

Object Classes.

Elements of an Object Class.

Creating the Entry You Want.


Elements of an Attribute Type.

Attribute Subtypes.

Attribute Options.

Operational Attributes.


Matching Rules.


Schema Checking.

Extended Schema Definitions.

DNS Extensions.

extensibleObject Object Class.

dynamicObject Object Class.


inetOrgPerson Object Class.

Still in Development.


Appendix Material.

5. Directory Management.





Referral Resolution.

Referral Syntax.

Referral Examples.



Distributed Directory.


Replication Topology.


Integrating Independent Directories.

Data Architecture Management.

Metadirectories: Glue Together Your Directories.

Master Directory.

Directory Synchronization.

Loose Directory Interconnection.

Harvesting Data (Connectors).

Moving Data Between Directories.



Directory Security.




Administrative Server Parameters.

Other Directory Management Tasks.



6. OpenLDAP.


Naming Contexts and Partitions.

Distributed Directory Functionality.

Database Functionality.


Operations and Clients.







Special Configuration Parameters.





Why OpenLDAP?

7. Microsoft Active Directory.



Directory Namespace.


Naming Contexts and Partitions.

Global Catalog.

Operations and Clients.



Directory-Enabled Services.







Data Architecture.

Special Configuration Parameters.





Why Active Directory?

8. Directory Server.


Naming Contexts.

Database Functionality.




Operations and Clients.







Class of Service (CoS).



Special Configuration Parameters.





Why Directory Server?


A. Client LDAP Operations Appendix.

Draft Controls.






Virtual List View.

C language API.

B. Schema Appendix.

Schema Formats.

ASN.1 Object Class Syntax.

ASN.1 Attribute Syntax.

BNF Object Class Syntax.

BNF Attribute Syntax.

Slapd.conf Object Class Syntax.

Slapd.conf Attribute Syntax.

Common Syntaxes.

Common Matching Rules.

C. Stanford University Directory Architecture.


Source Systems.

Stanford Registry.

Privacy Controls.

Directory Harvester.

Event Database.

Stanford Directory.

E-mail Service Integration.

Web UI Integration.

Updating Your Personal Information.

Active Directory Harvester.

Privacy Control in AD.


D. OpenLDAP Access Control.

<What> Element.

<Who> Element.

<Access> Element.

Evaluation of Access.

Comprehensive Example.

E. Active Directory Controls Appendix.
F. Directory Server Appendix.

Default Indexes.

Access Control Instructions (ACIs).

ACI Targets.

ACI Heading.

ACI Permissions.

ACI Bind Rules.

Putting an ACI Together.

Macro ACIs.


G. Online Reference Material.

Chapter 1 Topics.



Chapter 2 Topics.



Escaping Special Characters.

Chapter 3 Topics.

Programming Resources.

Encoding Resources.

Directory Integration.

Chapter 4 Topics.



Schema Resources.

Chapter 5 Topics.




Stanford University.

Chapter 6 Topics.

Building OpenLDAP.

OpenLDAP Admin Guide.

Mailing List Archives.

Chapter 7 Topics.

Linked Attributes.

Chapter 8 Topics.

Server Documentation.

Programming Resources.

Index. 020178792XT01292003


LDAP stands for the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. LDAP is a protocol used to communicate with a directory, and it is safe to say that LDAP is the predominant directory protocol. These days directories are everywhere. Many enterprise software packages require a directory. Companies that want to reduce costs and streamline their business implement a directory.

Not so long ago, I knew nothing about LDAP. Because Stanford, my employer, was implementing and integrating Active Directory with its existing directory, I needed to understand LDAP and how directories worked. However, I found that the resources for a novice were sparse and hard to find, and that none of the books on the subject took me from novice to competency. During the course of the Stanford project, I met David Chappell and worked closely with him. This lead to an invitation from Addison-Wesley, and I embarked on writing this book. I hope it meets your needs and fills the gap I found.

Who This Book Is For

This book is part of the Independent Technology Guide series. This series focuses on giving you an independent look at a technology, and tries to do it with a no-nonsense approach. David Chappell, the series editor, likes to say that the series should be called "Big Pictures 'R' Us". This is because each of the books in this series tries to give you a good idea of where this technology fits into the larger world. We often find that technical managers love this series because they give a good explanation of all the acronyms and buzzwords they hear. However, this book is also very appropriate for someone who is more technically savvy, but looking to break into LDAP and directories. You'll note that almost every LDAP book on the market is written for developers, and those who don't write code are left in the dark. This book takes a new approach and provides a thorough introduction for a newcomer regardless of their orientation or technical background.

About the Book

The book is broken down into two larger sections. Section One explores how LDAP and directories work in general. This book is unique from other LDAP books in that it approaches the topic from a standards based, non-product centric perspective. Section Two explores three products, to get a more specific sense of how LDAP has been used. This overview of the most popular LDAP products will be very useful for those who are trying to compare products, but don't have a lot of time to do the research.

The Appendixes

There are also several appendixes to augment the material presented in each of the chapters. When additional material is available it will be referenced in the chapter. I'd like to call your attention to two of the appendices in specific. Appendix C is a case study of Stanford University's directory architecture, where I worked for many years. It is intended to give you a real-world sense of how integral a LDAP directory can become to your business. Appendix G holds URLs for all the online reference material that I found and used while writing this book. Many people have indicated to me how invaluable this compilation of online resources was to their research.



LDAP recently celebrated its tenth birthday. For comparison, that's about the same age as the World Wide Web, half as old as the domain naming system, and around a third as old as the Internet itself. In its relatively short life, LDAP has grown from its obscure roots as an easier way to access the X.500 directory into the Internet standard for directories, used by virtually every e-mail client, browser, and a host of other applications, with more being developed every day. Like any successful technology, LDAP has taken on a life of its own, being used in ways its designers never imagined. I, for one, never thought when helping to design LDAP ten years ago that it would be used in the diversity of applications that it is today.

When I started work on LDAP, my ambitions were much smaller. I was simply trying to solve a problem on my own campus at the University of Michigan. I wanted to give desktops across the campus access to the central university-wide directory, which was based on X.500. This desire led to the creation of a protocol similar to LDAP called DIXIE. The popularity of DIXIE among a small community of similarly minded directory developers led to my joining forces with Steve Kille and Weng Yeong and to the creation of a standard version in LDAP.

LDAP's breakthrough to the mainstream, so to speak, came in 1996 when Netscape galvanized the industry around adopting LDAP as the Internet's commercially accepted directory protocol. Soon, all major vendors were on board, announcing plans to develop their own LDAP implementation, and LDAP was on its way to being a part of most users' everyday computing lives.

Often people that use LDAP are not even aware they are using it. It is the protocol used to access your corporate e-mail directory; LDAP may be consulted every time you access a private Web page; LDAP often stores configuration for the services you access. In these applications and others, LDAP provides the behind-the-scenes support needed to control access to resources and look up information. LDAP has also been used for applications ranging from storing and retrieving images to calculating chess moves.

In this book Brian Arkills has put together a broad treatment of LDAP for readers of varying technical backgrounds. It should prove useful to those seeking a more accessible introduction to the topic than has been previously available. As for me, I look forward to seeing what the next ten years will bring for LDAP.

Timothy A. Howes, Ph.D.
Opsware Inc.
Co-creator of LDAP


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