Configuring LDAP Authentication and Group Mapping With MariaDB

Geoff MonteeMariaDB, MySQL, Security0 Comments

In this blog post, I will demonstrate how to configure MariaDB to use LDAP authentication and group mapping. I have previously written blog posts about configuring PAM authentication and user mapping with MariaDB and configuring PAM authentication and group mapping with MariaDB. If you’ve read those blog posts, a lot of this information will be familiar to you. However, a big difference is that this blog post will also include instructions on setting up an LDAP server.

What do you need to follow these instructions?

  • A server running MariaDB 10.0+
  • An RHEL/CentOS 7 server to function as your LDAP server

I am not an LDAP administrator, so if anyone notices that I did anything incorrect or weird, please let me know!

What is group mapping

When I refer to group mapping in this blog post, I am referring to the ability to allow all the members of a POSIX user group to authenticate as a single MariaDB user account. A common use case it to allow all of the members of a DBA-related group to authenticate as a MariaDB superuser account.

The main benefits of this are:

  • You probably need a POSIX group for your team to control access to shared files anyway, so why not use it to simplify authentication as well?
  • Even if you have a team of 10 DBAs, you would only need to maintain one MariaDB user account for all of them to share.
  • There are no shared passwords. Even though there’s only one MariaDB user account, each DBA still uses their own LDAP password to log in.
  • LDAP is centralized, so even if you have 100 MariaDB servers, group membership only needs to be changed in one place.

In this blog post, I will be mapping the mysql-admins POSIX group to the dba MariaDB user account.

Setting up the LDAP server

If you would like to use LDAP authentication with MariaDB, it is very important that the LDAP Server is set up correctly. The steps in this section have been performed on RHEL 7, but they should be pretty similar for other Linux distributions.

Install LDAP components

First, we need to install the LDAP server and other LDAP components.

sudo yum install openldap openldap-servers openldap-clients nss-pam-ldapd

Create LDAP configuration file from template

Then we need to set up our LDAP configuration. For this, I used a template included with OpenLDAP.

sudo cp /usr/share/openldap-servers/DB_CONFIG.example /var/lib/ldap/DB_CONFIG
sudo chown ldap. /var/lib/ldap/DB_CONFIG

Start and enable service

We also want to start the slapd daemon, and make sure that it starts automatically when the system reboots. On RHEL 7, we would execute:

sudo systemctl start slapd
sudo systemctl enable slapd

Set the LDAP root password

Then let’s set the root password for the LDAP service. To do that, first we need to use the slappasswd utility to generate a password hash from a clear-text password:


This utility should provide a password hash that looks kind of like this: {SSHA}taDVduzRb34r8wwnhPTDLiYHqwTkHY2k

Now that we have the password hash, let’s create an ldif file to set the root password. LDAP uses ldif files to make changes to the directory.

Let’s make an ldif file to set the LDAP root password using the hash that we created above:

tee ~/olcRootPW.ldif <<EOF
dn: olcDatabase={0}config,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcRootPW
olcRootPW: {SSHA}taDVduzRb34r8wwnhPTDLiYHqwTkHY2k

Then we can use the ldapadd utility to execute the ldif file:

sudo ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f ~/olcRootPW.ldif

Add some standard schemas

OpenLDAP comes with some standard schemas that will be needed later when we want to create POSIX users and groups in our directory. Let’s add those schemas:

sudo ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f /etc/openldap/schema/cosine.ldif
sudo ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f /etc/openldap/schema/nis.ldif
sudo ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f /etc/openldap/schema/inetorgperson.ldif

Setup the directory manager

Next, let’s set up a directory manager. The directory manager is a privileged LDAP user that we will use to make changes to the directory after this step.

Let’s use the slappasswd utility to generate a password hash from a clear-text password just like we did for the root password above. Simply execute:


Just like it did above, this utility should provide a password hash that looks kind of like this: {SSHA}A0oN2jPVFafjxeb92VwYRwwbZMVppMam

Now that we have the password hash, let’s create an ldif file to create the directory manager:

tee ~/setupDirectoryManager.ldif <<EOF
dn: olcDatabase={1}monitor,cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcAccess
olcAccess: {0}to * by dn.base="gidNumber=0+uidNumber=0,cn=peercred,cn=external,cn=auth"
read by dn.base="cn=Manager,dc=support,dc=mariadb" read by * none

dn: olcDatabase={2}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcSuffix
olcSuffix: dc=support,dc=mariadb

dn: olcDatabase={2}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
replace: olcRootDN
olcRootDN: cn=Manager,dc=support,dc=mariadb

dn: olcDatabase={2}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcRootPW
olcRootPW: {SSHA}A0oN2jPVFafjxeb92VwYRwwbZMVppMam

dn: olcDatabase={2}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcAccess
olcAccess: {0}to attrs=userPassword,shadowLastChange by
dn="cn=Manager,dc=support,dc=mariadb" write by anonymous auth by self write by * none
olcAccess: {1}to dn.base="" by * read
olcAccess: {2}to * by dn="cn=Manager,dc=support,dc=mariadb" write by * read

Note that I am using the dc=support,dc=mariadb domain for my directory. You can change this to whatever is relevant to you.

Now let’s run the ldif file:

sudo ldapmodify -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:/// -f ~/setupDirectoryManager.ldif

Setup the base domain

Now let’s create an ldif file to setup the base domain:

tee ~/setupBaseDomain.ldif <<EOF
dn: dc=support,dc=mariadb
objectClass: top
objectClass: dcObject
objectclass: organization
o: Support Team
dc: support

dn: cn=Manager,dc=support,dc=mariadb
objectClass: organizationalRole
cn: Manager
description: Directory Manager

dn: ou=People,dc=support,dc=mariadb
objectClass: organizationalUnit
ou: People

dn: ou=Group,dc=support,dc=mariadb
objectClass: organizationalUnit
ou: Group

And then run it:

ldapadd -x -D cn=Manager,dc=support,dc=mariadb -W -f ~/setupBaseDomain.ldif

Setup the POSIX group

Above, I mentioned that we would be mapping the mysql-admins POSIX group to the dba MariaDB user. Let’s create an ldif file to represent this group:

tee ~/createMySQLAdminsGroup.ldif <<EOF
dn: cn=mysql-admins,ou=Group,dc=support,dc=mariadb
objectClass: top
objectClass: posixGroup
gidNumber: 678

And then let’s run it:

ldapadd -x -D cn=Manager,dc=support,dc=mariadb -W -f ~/createMySQLAdminsGroup.ldif

Setup a POSIX user

We also need to have a POSIX user account who is a member of our POSIX group. Let’s create an ldif file for a user account named geoff.

tee ~/createGeoffUser.ldif <<EOF
dn: uid=geoff,ou=People,dc=support,dc=mariadb
objectClass: top
objectClass: account
objectClass: posixAccount
objectClass: shadowAccount
cn: geoff
uid: geoff
uidNumber: 16859
gidNumber: 100
homeDirectory: /home/geoff
loginShell: /bin/bash
gecos: geoff
userPassword: {crypt}x
shadowLastChange: -1
shadowMax: -1
shadowWarning: 0

Then let’s run it:

ldapadd -x -D cn=Manager,dc=support,dc=mariadb -W -f ~/createGeoffUser.ldif

Then set the user’s password:

ldappasswd -x -D cn=Manager,dc=support,dc=mariadb -W -S uid=geoff,ou=People,dc=support,dc=mariadb

Add the user to the group

Both the user and group exist, but the user isn’t yet a member of the group. Let’s create an ldif file to add the user to the group:

tee ~/addMySQLAdminsGroupMembers.ldif <<EOF
dn: cn=mysql-admins,ou=Group,dc=support,dc=mariadb
changetype: modify
add: memberuid
memberuid: geoff

And then run it:

ldapmodify -x -D cn=Manager,dc=support,dc=mariadb -W -f ~/addMySQLAdminsGroupMembers.ldif

Setting up the MariaDB server

Now that the LDAP server is configured, we need to setup the MariaDB server. I won’t show how to install MariaDB in this blog post, since there are already many references available for that. Here, I will only show how to get LDAP authentication and group mapping working with an existing MariaDB server.

Install LDAP and PAM libraries

First, we need to make sure that the LDAP and PAM libraries are installed:

sudo yum install openldap-clients nss-pam-ldapd pam pam-devel

Setup authentication

Now that the LDAP client and libraries are installed, we need to update the PAM configuration to use LDAP. We can use the authconfig utility for this. Be sure to replace –ldapserver and –ldapbasedn with values that are relevant for you.

sudo authconfig --enableldap \
--enableldapauth \
--ldapserver= \
--ldapbasedn="dc=support,dc=mariadb" \
--enablemkhomedir \

Test new user account

Now that the server is configured to use LDAP authentication, let’s see if our user account works and if the user is a member of the proper groups.

[ec2-user@ip-172-31-22-174 ~]$ su geoff
[geoff@ip-172-31-22-174 ec2-user]$ groups
users mysql-admins

Looks great so far!

Setup the user mapping plugin

In order to use user or group mapping with MariaDB’s PAM authentication plugin, we need to install an external user mapping plugin for PAM. We can download this plugin from MariaDB’s source code repository, then build it, and then install it:

gcc pam_user_map.c -shared -lpam -fPIC -o
sudo install --mode=0755 /lib64/security/

Setup the PAM policy

Let’s create a PAM policy specifically for MariaDB. Since we want to use LDAP and group mapping, we need to make sure that this policy is written to use the PAM modules for LDAP and user mapping plugins. This policy worked for me:

sudo tee /etc/pam.d/mysql <<EOF
auth sufficient use_first_pass
auth sufficient nullok try_first_pass
auth required

account [default=bad success=ok user_unknown=ignore]
account required broken_shadow

Configure the user mapping

The user mapping module looks in /etc/security/user_map.conf for its configuration file. Let’s create that file now:

sudo tee /etc/security/user_map.conf <<EOF
@mysql-admins: dba

Notice that we use the @ character to prefix group names. If we just wanted to map the geoff user, we could do this instead:

sudo tee /etc/security/user_map.conf <<EOF
geoff: dba

Create a local account for the user functioning as the proxy user

Because of the way the PAM authentication plugin for MariaDB works, we need to have a local user account for the MariaDB user functioning as the proxy user. Our proxy user is named dba, so let’s create a local user account with that name.

sudo useradd dba

Allow mysql to read /etc/shadow

Because of the way PAM authentication works, the user running the mysqld process needs to be able to read /etc/shadow. The default user that runs mysqld is usually named mysql. Let’s make sure that this user can read /etc/shadow:

sudo groupadd shadow
sudo usermod -a -G shadow mysql
sudo chown root:shadow /etc/shadow
sudo chmod g+r /etc/shadow

Setup privileges in MariaDB

Now let’s setup our privileges in MariaDB:

-- Install the plugin
INSTALL SONAME 'auth_pam';

-- Create the "dba" user
CREATE USER 'dba'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'strongpassword';
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO 'dba'@'localhost';

-- Create an anonymous catch-all user that will use the PAM plugin and the mysql PAM policy
CREATE USER ''@'localhost' IDENTIFIED VIA pam USING 'mysql';

-- Allow the anonymous user to proxy as the dba user
GRANT PROXY ON 'dba'@'localhost' TO ''@'localhost';

Restart MariaDB

Since we changed the group membership of the mysql user, we have to restart mysqld to put the changes into effect:

sudo systemctl restart mariadb

Try it out

Now let’s try it out:

[ec2-user@ip-172-31-22-174 ~]$ mysql -u geoff -h localhost
[mariadb] Password:
Welcome to the MariaDB monitor. Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MariaDB connection id is 7
Server version: 10.1.14-MariaDB MariaDB Server

Copyright (c) 2000, 2016, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

MariaDB [(none)]> SELECT USER(), CURRENT_USER();
| geoff@localhost | dba@localhost |
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Since CURRENT_USER() is showing dba@localhost, we know it worked. Awesome!


LDAP authentication and group mapping is very useful for users who want to consolidate account management. However, it can be a little difficult to setup and administrate. I hope this blog post helps simplify it for some!

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