Integrating Linux With Active Directory

This works for both Server 2008(R2) and 2012.From the Linux side, it should be fine with RHEL 6 and similar (CentOS and Scientific Linux).






Integration with AD requires the installation of a few services in Red Hat, along with some minor modifications on the Windows Domain Controllers. On the Linux side, everything revolves around the System Security Services Daemon (SSSD). All communication between the PAM and the various possible back-ends is brokered through this daemon.

PAM communicates with SSSD, which in turn talks to Active Directory via LDAP and Kerberos. Identification is performed via LDAP, with the user is authenticated using Kerberos. These different components have some prerequisites on Windows.

  • DNS must be working fully – both forward and reverse lookups should be functional. If the Kerberos server (Windows Domain Controller) cannot identify the client via DNS, Kerberos will fail.
  • Accurate time is essential – if the two systems have too larger difference in time (about 5 minutes), Kerberos will fail.
  • The Active Directory needs to be extended to include the relevant information for *NIX systems (home directory, shell, UUID/GUID primarily).
    • They are actually there, but empty and uneditable. The necessary GUI fields are part of “Identity Management for UNIX”
  • It must be possible for the Linux client to perform an LDAP search. This could be either via an anonymous bind or authenticated.
    • Anonymous is obviously not recommended.
    • Simple binds (username/password) do work but are not recommended. Although I am not one to practise what I preach (see below).
    • The best option is SASL/GSSAPI, using a keytab generated by Samba. This does not require Admin privileges on Windows, only permissions to join computers to the domain.

For both DNS and NTP we can use the services provided by Active Directory.

Preparing Active Directory

In Server Manager, add the Role Service “Identity Management for UNIX”. This is under the Role “Active Directory Domain Services” . When it asks, use your AD domain name as the NIS name. For example, with a AD domain of use ge.

Once that is installed, create a pair of groups. For the sake of argument, lets call them LinuxAdmin and LinuxUser . When you create these groups, you will see a new tab in the properties window for both groups and users: “UNIX Attributes”.



Now go ahead and create a user (or edit an existing one). Go into the UNIX tab and set the configuration for UNIX access:

  • Select the NIS domain you created earlier
  • Set an approprate UUID (default should be fine)
  • Set the login shell as /bin/bash, /bin/sh should be fine most of the time, but I have seen a few odd things happen (details escape me)
  • Set the home directory. I seperate them out from local users to something like /home/<DOMAIN>/<username>

Open up one of your groups (let’s start with LinuxAdmin) and add the user to that group. Note you have to do it 2 places. Both in the standard Groups tab, but also in the UNIX attributes tab.

That should be everything on the Windows side.

Configure RHEL as a client

Install System Security Service Daemon (SSSD) and other related components.

# yum install sssd sssd-client krb5-workstation samba openldap-clients policycoreutils-python

Configure Kerberos

DNS must be working for both forward and reverse lookups

  • Time must be in sync accross all the clients

Make sure that /etc/resolv.conf contains your domain controllers.

In/etc/krb5.conf change your servers to point at your Domain Controllers.


default = FILE:/var/log/krb5libs.log


default_realm = AD.EXAMPLE.COM

dns_lookup_realm = true

dns_lookup_kdc = true

ticket_lifetime = 24h

renew_lifetime = 7d

rdns = false

forwardable = yes



# Define the server only if DNS lookups are not working

# kdc =

# admin_server =


[domain_realm] = AD.EXAMPLE.COM = AD.EXAMPLE.COM

You should now be able to run:

#kinit aduser@AD.EXAMPLE.COM

That should obtain a kerberos ticket (check with klist)

Enable LDAP Searches

The best way to bind to AD is using SASL/GSSAPI as no passwords are needed.

#net ads join createupn=host/ –k

#net ads keytab create

#net ads keytab add host/

You should now be able to get information about yourself from AD using ldapsearch:

#ldapsearch -H ldap:// -Y GSSAPI -N -b “dc=ad,dc=example,dc=com” “(&(objectClass=user)(sAMAccountName=aduser))”

Configure SSSD

Everything in SSSD revolves around a single config file (/etc/sssd/ssd.conf).


config_file_version = 2

domains =

services = nss, pam

debug_level = 0




id_provider = ldap

auth_provider = krb5

chpass_provider = krb5

access_provider = ldap

# To use Kerberos, un comment the next line

#ldap_sasl_mech = GSSAPI

# The following 3 lines bind to AD. Comment them out to use Kerberos

ldap_default_bind_dn = CN=svc_unix,OU=useraccounts,DC=ad,DC=example,DC=com

ldap_default_authtok_type = password

ldap_default_authtok = Welcome_2014

ldap_schema = rfc2307bis

ldap_user_search_base = ,dc=ad,dc=example,dc=com

ldap_user_object_class = user

ldap_user_home_directory = unixHomeDirectory

ldap_user_principal = userPrincipalName

ldap_group_search_base = ou=groups,dc=ad,dc=example,dc=com

ldap_group_object_class = group

ldap_access_order = expire

ldap_account_expire_policy = ad

ldap_force_upper_case_realm = true

krb5_realm = AD.EXAMPLE.COM

There are two ways to bind. SASL/GSSAPI and simple bind. Try with kerberos first, if it works good, if not then create a service account in AD that can do nothing other than perform a search and use that to perform the bind. Make sure its path matches that of the ldap_default_bind_dn path, also make sure the password is more complex

Tell PAM to use this with authconfig command.

#authconfig –enablesssd –enablesssdauth –enablemkhomedir –update

This will update /etc/nsswitch.conf and various files in /etc/pam.d to tell the system to authenticate against SSSD. SSSD will in turn talk to Active Directory, using LDAP for Identification and Kerberos for authentication.

Now try login with the Ad username and it will let you in.


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