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Automatic Private Groups for LDAP and AD domains


Problem statement

This change will enable SSSD to automatically generate private groups for users based on the UID number without the group actually being present as an LDAP object.

Use cases

The primary use-case is ease of management. The LDAP administrator will only create the user object and add the user to supplementary groups as needed.

This has two advantages:

  • There is one less object to manage and keep in sync with the user
  • In AD environments, it is not possible to create a user and a group with the same samAccountName, therefore even manually creating the private groups requires the admin to remap the group attribute to a non-default one since by default both users and groups use samAccountName.

Overview of the solution

Most of the low-level functionality in the sysdb layer had been developed for many years for use in the local provider. At the same time, there are also most of the infrastructure ready in the LDAP provider and the NSS responder, because the automatic private groups are used by default already for trusted domains with ID mapping enabled.

At the moment, the functionality is enabled internally by an option called mpg, short for Magic-Private-Groups. On a high level, the private groups are not created in the SSSD cache at all, but the work is done by the NSS responder which generates the group reply based on the user object only.

Therefore, the majority of the work will be exposing the option in configuration and making sure all codepaths work equally well for joined domains as they do for trusted domains.

Implementation details

A new option needs to be added that would control the user private group creation. In the past, we’ve had an option called magic_private_groups and the internal boolean flag inside the sss_domain_info structure is still called mpg.

Instead of resurrecting the old option, we should introduce a newly named option that would be understood by admins better, such as auto_private_groups. The new option must be read on SSSD startup and set the sss_domain_info->mpg flag, which is currently auto-enabled with subdomains only.

The code branch that saves the user (currently sdap_save_user) must be extended to allow setting the GID number to be the same as UID number for any domain that sets the mpg flag. Care must be taken to store the original GID number (if any) to the SYSDB_PRIMARY_GROUP_GIDNUM attribute which is then used by the NSS responder to add the original primary GID as a supplementary group.

Finally, the group-by-GID LDAP request in the LDAP provider must be extended to make sure that if a private group GID is requested before the user is, the group request will also turn the group-by-GID request to a user-by-UID request which would save the user object which would then allow the NSS responder to auto-generate the group reply.

Configuration changes

A new option auto_private_groups will be introduced. At the moment, it will only be possible to set the option for the joined domains as the trusted domains always create the private groups already by default. Therefore the only viable usage of this new option in a trusted domain would be disabling the functionality, which is out of scope of this RFE.

The auto_private_groups option will default to false.

How To Test

The primary use-cases are SSSD being a client of a generic LDAP server and SSSD on a GNU/Linux machine directly joined to an AD domain with id_provider=ad.

In both cases, setting the auto_private_groups option to true should result in the initgroups call returning the primary GID number of the user with the same value and resolving to the same name as the primary UID number and the username.

Other interfaces should produce symmetrical results, although at least in the case of the D-Bus based IFP interface, it is currently not the case, see ticket #3543.

For example, here is an output of a test user with private groups autogenerated:

uid=20000( gid=20000( groups=20000(,20002(,20001(,10000(

and without:

uid=20000( gid=10000( groups=10000(,20001(,20002(

Note that in the case of the private groups being generated, the original GID number is turned into a supplementary group by the initgroups call.

How To Debug

There’s not much extra debugging added for this feature. Debugging this feature should amount to the usual checking of the debug logs. In addition, the cache can be inspected with the ldbsearch tool to make sure all the groups are saved as expected as well as the SYSDB_PRIMARY_GROUP_GIDNUM attribute.


  • Jakub Hrozek <>