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Global Catalog Lookups in SSSD

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Problem Statement

Currently SSSD uses the standard LDAP interface of Active Directory to lookup users and groups when joined to an Active Directory domain. But the LDAP interface only offers information for users and groups of the local domain and not from the whole forest. This information is available in the Global Catalog of an Active Directory domain.

To make lookups of users and groups from the whole forest easier SSSD should use the Global Catalog instead of the standard LDAP interface for the lookups.

Additionally SSSD should provide an interface to allow other applications to do Global Catalog lookups. Initially it is sufficient to offer SID-to-Name and Name-to-SID lookups if SSSD is running on an IPA server.

Overview view of the solution

General components

Service discovery

  1. DNS lookup for any AD DC
  2. CLDAP query to find the site of the client
  3. DNS lookup for a Global Catalog server from the local site, fall back to any Global catalog server

Authentication against the Global Catalog

GSSAPI with keytabs will be used for authentication.

If the SSSD client is joined to an AD the keytab is created during the join process.

If SSSD is running on an IPA server with trust configured, the keytab will be generated by samba. It has to be created and updated when trust is established or the trust password is changed. Additionally there should be a method to generate the keytab if it does not exist even if there is no change in the trust state.

New NSS-Responder calls for SID-to-Name and Name-to-SID lookups

Two new calls should be added to the NSS-Responder to give other applications (the first user would be the FreeIPA directory server) a simple interface for SID-to-Name and Name-to-SID lookups. It has to be sorted out if and how those two new call will interact with lookup by SID feature described in #2601 “Use the getpwnam()/getgrnam() interface as a gateway to resolve SID to Names”.

Memory cache for the new lookups

To speed up lookup the new calls should be able to use the memory cache.

Implementation details

Since the Global Catalog is just an LDAP server running on a non-standard port the general LDAP lookup code would not need much change if any. But resolving the Global Catalog server would be a bit different because before the actual DNS service record lookup the site has to be determined.

I think it is sufficient to determine the site on startup and when SSSD switches from offline to online.

To decode the blob returned by the CLDAP request libndr-nbt from the samba4-libs package would be useful. Since libndr-krb5pac is already used in the PAC responder I think it is ok to add this new dependency here.

Environments with trusts

In an environment with trust it must be possible to handle multiple open connections to Global Catalogs of different forests.

According to are used during Kerberos requests to guide the client to the right KDC. I have not found a similar document for LDAP requests to the Global Catalog. I have to find out if it is possible to work with referrals here, too or if it is needed to read the trusted domain objects (< from the Global Catalog.

New NSS responder calls

How to test

Since the Global Catalog lookups just replace the current lookup methods SSSD should just behave as before (Regression testing).

Additionally the following changes might be visible on the user or admin level.

AD provider

If the SSSD client is joined to a Windows domain which is part of a forest, Global Catalog lookups should be able to resolve all users and groups in the forest and not only the ones from the joined domain.

IPA provider running on a FreeIPA server

If the FreeIPA server is able to use SSSD for SID-to-Name and Name-to-SID lookups running winbind on the FreeIPA server is not needed anymore.


Sumit Bose <>