In the past I have used Samba with Active Directory to allow network users to log into Linux machines. Today I'm maintaining a smaller network comprised only of Linux hosts, but I would still like to centralize authentication. I have looked into setting up a Samba host as a Domain Controller, but I don't exactly see the point of doing this when there are no Windows hosts. I've looked into NIS but it seems like it might be a bit complicated for my taste.

It is important that network-authenticated users share the same UIDs because there will be some shared disk resources involved as well.

For what it's worth the majority of my network nodes are OpenVZ containers, though there are some outliers (laptops, workstations, and a couple dedicated servers).


Have you looked into 389 Directory Server/RedHat Directory Server? We've used it on small clusters of Linux only machines with great success, it essentially provides LDAP/Active Directory-like services for a Linux domain.

  • All of my machines are Debian, will it be easy to adapt this service? – andyortlieb Jul 31 '12 at 15:30
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    Yup, RedHat's "Directory Server" is an implementation of "389 Directory Server" which is support on most Linux distros - directory.fedoraproject.org/wiki/… – Univ426 Jul 31 '12 at 15:33
  • Is there any compelling reason to select this over openLDAP, which has supported packages by Debian? – andyortlieb Jul 31 '12 at 16:05
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    @andyortlieb: No, there is not (IMHO) On Debian, use OpenLDAP. It's better supported and more widely used, meaning you find more help in case of problems. – Sven Jul 31 '12 at 16:52
  • Ah, good to know Sven - yeah, Andy, my experience with Debian is limited, so while it's listed as supported, is looks like openLDAP might be better from a support perspective – Univ426 Jul 31 '12 at 17:16

Getting a base LDAP install ready isn't brain dead simple, but it isn't rocket science either and can be done in a few hours. I wouldn't use NIS for a new install, this is legacy technology.

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