LDAP Troubleshooting

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If trouble is encountered getting a connection to an LDAP server, there are several things to check. Most of the time it is trouble-free, but in particular, LDAP with SSL can be tricky.

DN and Related Settings

First, ensure the base DN and similar settings match those configured on the LDAP server. Check the LDAP server for more information.

For Base DN, it's typical to use the root of the LDAP tree but typically Entire Subtree should also be selected for the Search Scope.

Authentication Containers vary by system and setup. On Windows, it is commonly CN=Users,DC=example,DC=com, but it may vary. Try using an LDAP browser or similar to locate the correct container.

The LDAP path items are not case sensitive, so CN=Administrator is equivalent to cn=administrator.

Bind Credentials

If Anonymous binds are not being used, the username supplied can be the short name (e.g. DOMAIN\User for AD) or a full LDAP specification for a user (e.g. CN=administrator,CN=Users,DC=example,DC=com).

For a production setup, an unprivileged user should be used for binding if possible, and not AS Administrator-level account. Such an unprivileged user may need sufficient permissions to attempt binding as other users and access the LDAP directory.

Extended Query

Ensure a directive is used that includes what should be searched as well as how, such as:


Connection-Related Issues (non-SSL)

Make sure that the LDAP server is listening on the expected port, and that connectivity to the LDAP server's network is functional.

Performing a packet capture filtered on the LDAP server's IP address and port will help track down the problem.

Connection-Related Issues (SSL)

By far the most troublesome connection issues people have are with LDAP+SSL (ldaps) because it is so secure in how it operates.

Hostname Required

When connecting to LDAP with SSL, the hostname given for the server is also used to verify the server certificate. The server certificate's common name must be its hostname, and that hostname must resolve to the LDAP server's IP address, e.g. CN=ldap.example.com, and ldap.example.com is

If an IP address has been entered for the hostname of the LDAP server, it will not work unless that IP happens to also be the CN or a SAN of the server certificate.

If this must be worked around, it is possible to create a DNS host override in the DNS forwarder for (common name of the cert).(firewall's domain name). That assumes that the CN is in a format that could actually be a hostname.

Use the Correct Port

When using LDAP, pfSense will use an ldaps URL which defaults to port 636. It will NOT do starttls on port 389. Ensure the LDAP server is listening properly on port 636.

Ensure CA Matches

The most important factor in making sure that it is possible to communicate with the LDAP server over SSL is that the correct CA certificate has been imported into pfSense, and chosen on the LDAP settings. The key is not required, only the CA certificate.

Nested CAs

If the LDAP server certificate CA is part of a chain, or there is an intermediate CA, every CA certificate must be pasted into the form when importing the CA into pfSense. For example:

Subordinate/Intermediate CA certificate text
Root CA certificate text

Other Cert/CA Issues

Confirm that the certificates are otherwise valid, for example they are not expired or set to be valid in the future.

Debugging LDAP

If the hostname and CA certificate are believed to be correct, LDAP can be debugged by applying the following patch (2.1 only) using the System Patches package:

URL: http://files.pfsense.org/jimp/patches/ldap-debug.patch
Path Strip: 1
Base: /
Ignore Whitespace: Checked

Once applied, from the console or ssh, run option 11 to restart the WebGUI. The patch enables some debug logging for LDAP and also tells lighttpd to write the error log for the debug messages. Once the GUI has restarted, try the LDAP query again, and then check /var/log/lighttpd-breakage.log which should have sufficient detail to track down the cause of the problem. If assistance is needed with decoding the output, post in the forum for help or seek assistance from pfSense Commercial Support.

Group Membership

Group membership can be tricky with LDAP due to the various ways in which the LDAP schema can vary. It may be that the LDAP sever requires the RFC 2307 option to be active, or inactive, or the attributes of the group membership could be different. Consult your LDAP server documentation and schema to confirm how group membership must be checked.

For pfSense to see a group from LDAP, a local group must exist on pfSense with an identical name to the group on the LDAP server.