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9. LDAP integration

9.1. Overview

Using LDAP as a source for user credentials and information is quite easy. The most difficult part lies in building an LDAP schema or using an existing one.

At cube creation time, one is asked if more sources are wanted. LDAP is one possible option at this time. Of course, it is always possible to set it up later using the CWSource entity type, which we discuss there.

It is possible to add as many LDAP sources as wanted, which translates in as many CWSource entities as needed.

The general principle of the LDAP source is, given a proper configuration, to create local users matching the users available in the directory and deriving local user attributes from directory users attributes. Then a periodic task ensures local user information synchronization with the directory.

Users handled by such a source should not be edited directly from within the application instance itself. Rather, updates should happen at the LDAP server level.

Credential checks are _always_ done against the LDAP server.


There are currently two ldap source types: the older ldapuser and the newer ldapfeed. The older will be deprecated anytime soon, as the newer has now gained all the features of the old and does not suffer from some of its illnesses.

The ldapfeed creates real CWUser entities, and then activate/deactivate them depending on their presence/absence in the corresponding LDAP source. Their attribute and state (activated/deactivated) are hence managed by the source mechanism; they should not be altered by other means (as such alterations may be overridden in some subsequent source synchronisation).

9.2. Configuration of an LDAPfeed source

Additional sources are created at cube creation time or later through the user interface.

Configure an ldapfeed source from the user interface under Manage then data sources:

  • At this point type has been set to ldapfeed.
  • The parser attribute shall be set to ldapfeed.
  • The url attribute shall be set to an URL such as ldap://ldapserver.domain/.
  • The configuration attribute contains many options. They are described in detail in the next paragraph.

9.3. Options of an LDAPfeed source

Let us enumerate the options by categories (LDAP server connection, LDAP schema mapping information).

LDAP server connection options:

  • auth-mode, (choices are simple, cram_md5, digest_md5, gssapi, support for the later being partial as of now)
  • auth-realm, realm to use when using gssapi/kerberos authentication
  • data-cnx-dn, user dn to use to open data connection to the ldap (eg used to respond to rql queries)
  • data-cnx-password, password to use to open data connection to the ldap (eg used to respond to rql queries)

If the LDAP server accepts anonymous binds, then it is possible to leave data-cnx-dn and data-cnx-password empty. This is, however, quite unlikely in practice.

LDAP schema mapping options:

  • user-base-dn, base DN to lookup for users
  • user-scope, user search scope (valid values: “BASE”, “ONELEVEL”, “SUBTREE”)
  • user-classes, classes of user (with Active Directory, you want to say “user” here)
  • user-filter, additional filters to be set in the ldap query to find valid users
  • user-login-attr, attribute used as login on authentication (with Active Directory, you want to use “sAMAccountName” here)
  • user-default-group, name of a group in which ldap users will be by default. You can set multiple groups by separating them by a comma
  • user-attrs-map, map from ldap user attributes to cubicweb attributes (with Active Directory, you want to use sAMAccountName:login,mail:email,givenName:firstname,sn:surname)

9.4. Other notes

  • Cubicweb is able to start if ldap cannot be reached, even on cubicweb-ctl start ... If some source ldap server cannot be used while an instance is running, the corresponding users won’t be authenticated but their status will not change (e.g. they will not be deactivated)
  • The user-base-dn is a key that helps cubicweb map CWUsers to LDAP users: beware updating it
  • When a user is removed from an LDAP source, it is deactivated in the CubicWeb instance; when a deactivated user comes back in the LDAP source, it (automatically) is activated again
  • You can use the CWSourceHostConfig to have variants for a source configuration according to the host the instance is running on. To do so go on the source’s view from the sources management view.