We have about 7 Linux servers and from time to time we setup a new one...

For each new install we have to create the same users and ask them to change their default passwords to new ones ... Plus for us, we have to copy our user preferences and other personal stuff (ssh keys, .vimrc, default user's shell...) to the new server.

I would like to have all users' home folders + the authentication system centralized on one server only! When a user tries to log into a server, it has to check username/pass and retrieves user's home folder from one centralized server.

I've heard about LDAP, but regarding my LDAP experiences: are there other solutions?


  • Easy to maintain and to setup
  • Supports ssh authentication by RSA/DSA public keys
  • Makes user's remote folder accessible locally
  • Keep user's rights same on all machines (if user can sudo on the centralized server then he can on every server)
  • Possibility to restrain user's rights on a particular server
  • 1
    Not a Gentoo based solution, but you might still want to have a look at freeIPA.org – Cristian Ciupitu Feb 9 '10 at 23:31
  • Looks very nice, too bad it depends on Fedora – Kami Feb 9 '10 at 23:36

Most common solutions are NIS+NFS or LDAP+NFS. NIS is easier to set up than LDAP, but LDAP supports multiple OSes and is more flexible in that sense. I would recommend using one of these two since both are well documented and established in the industry.

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  • 3
    NIS+NFS is a good and easy way to do this. – Studer Feb 10 '10 at 16:54
  • I'd like to add that you should use Kerberos together with LDAP to store passwords. LDAP sends data across in the clear... – wazoox Aug 25 '11 at 15:47
  • Wazoox, if TLS or SSL is enabled, would the password be encrypted anyway? – Rilindo Aug 25 '11 at 16:14
  • NIS has it's own security implications. Do your home work on that and make sure that it will not be an issue for your use. – Aaron Copley Aug 25 '11 at 16:16

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