Manage FreeIPA as a user from a trusted Active Directory domain#

Allow users from trusted Active Directory forests to manage FreeIPA resources if they are part of appropriate roles in FreeIPA. For example, adding an Active Directory user as a member of ‘admins’ group would make it equivalent to built-in FreeIPA ‘admin’ user.

The feature utilizes existing infrastructure for adding ID overrides of users from trusted domains in the Default Trust View. User ID overrides in the Default Trust View can only be created for the users from trusted Active Directory forests. When Active Directory user authenticates with GSSAPI against the FreeIPA LDAP server, its Kerberos principal is automatically mapped to the user’s ID override in the Default Trust View. LDAP server’s access control plugin uses membership information of the corresponding LDAP entry to decide how access can be allowed.

Use Cases#

  • As an Administrator in AD I want to also be able to fully administer FreeIPA as if I am an FreeIPA admin so that I do not have to have two different accounts and passwords.

  • As an AD user I want to be able to use self service features of FreeIPA Web UI for example to upload my SSH keys or change other related to me data that is managed in FreeIPA on my behalf.

  • As an AD user or Admin I want to be able to access FreeIPA Web UI with SSO if I have a valid kerberos ticket

  • As an AD user or Admin I want to be able to access FreeIPA Web UI and be prompted for user name and password

  • As an AD user who is assigned appropriate privileges in FreeIPA, I’d like to be able enroll FreeIPA hosts.

  • As an AD user who is assigned appropriate privileges in FreeIPA, I’d like to be able to promote FreeIPA hosts to replicas.

  • As an AD user who is assigned appropriate privileges in FreeIPA, I’d like to be able to issue certificates for FreeIPA resources [not implemented].


FreeIPA integration#

FreeIPA allows to associate an ID override with an Active Directory user. This user ID override stores information about user-specific POSIX attributes: POSIX IDs for explicitly defined ID range case, home directory, user’s shell, SSH public keys, and associated user certificates. ID overrides can be defined in a number of ID views, with Default Trust View always applied by SSSD whenever information about this AD user is requested in the FreeIPA realm.

Existence of the user ID override in the Default Trust View also allows this user to bind to FreeIPA LDAP server when using GSSAPI authentication. This is a feature that FreeIPA Web UI utilizes to provide a web interfaces for a self-service of Active Directory users.


From the LDAP server perspective, FreeIPA access controls are based on the membership in a certain group and role. If an LDAP object identity to which authenticated LDAP bind is mapped belongs to a group or a role that allows certain operations in the access controls, this identity is granted access defined by the access controls.

Since user ID override is represented as a separate LDAP object in FreeIPA LDAP store, its DN can be included into a group as a member. memberof plugin requires to be able to add memberof attribute back to the entry that is added as a member. As a result, ID override entry must include an object class that allows this operation to succeed.

Thus, making ID override a group member in LDAP requires to expand existing set of object classes in the ID override entry. There is standard object class in 389-ds, nsmemberof, that allows memberof attribute.

Another part of the requirement for members of groups in FreeIPA is to be able to map a member DN back to its primary key for FreeIPA API purposes. This requirement allows API to provide virtual attributes member_<object> that contain primary keys of the members per each object type, to allow UI and CLI to show them in a structured way.

For this to work, an object representing the group member has to provide an implementation of the LDAPObject.get_primary_key_from_dn() method. For ID overrides this method just needs to call existing resolve_anchor_to_object_name() helper that performs SID or ipaUniqueID to name transformation.

For Web UI operations, there is another requirement: group membership management implementation requires lookup of an object by its primary key. In case of ID overrides the overrides actually referred by a pair <ID view, ID override anchor>. Since it is not possible to pass ID view detail, ID view is set to be empty in those API calls. Since only Default Trust View is used for mapping ID overrides to LDAP objects for authenticated LDAP binds, we can default to Default Trust View in case the view is missing from the API call.

Web UI#

In Web UI upon login there is a code that defines what view should be visible for the user. This view already deals with Active Directory users and provides them with a self-service view of their ID override entry in the Default Trust View. With the proper support for the membership of ID overrides, ID override entry now also return virtual attributes memberof_group, memberofindirect_group, memberof_role, and memberofindirect_role that can be checked the same way how membership is checked for normal IPA users.

Access Control#

389-ds LDAP server implements access control with the help of acl plugin. This plugin relies on the membership information of the LDAP object of the identity currenly bound to the LDAP server connection.

The acl plugin retrieves list of groups the bound LDAP object belongs to and then evaluates each access based on the membership information and access control lists (ACLs). Most if not all FreeIPA ACLs rely on the group membership through the role/privilege/permission concepts.

If an active LDAP bound object belongs to certain groups and these groups mentioned in the ACLs, this LDAP bound object will be allowed to perform those LDAP operations which allowed through the ACLs.

Upgrade and migration#

The plugin does not require any schema updates because nsMemberOf is part of the core 389-ds LDAP schema.


In order to allow Active Directory user to manage FreeIPA, following steps should be done:

  • An ID override for the user should be created in the Default Trust View

  • An ID override for the user should be added to an IPA group or directly to an IPA role

  • This group should be part of a role/privilege that allows modification/management of any IPA object

Sample usage#

  1. As admin, add ID override for a user (ad-user@ad.example.test):

    ipa idoverrideuser-add 'default trust view' ad-user@ad.example.test
  2. Add ad-user@ad.example.test to ‘admins’ group:

    ipa group-add-member admins --idoverrideusers ad-user@ad.example.test
  3. Alternatively, the ID override can be added to a role:

    ipa role-add-member 'User Administrator' --idoverrideusers ad-user@ad.example.test

When ID override membership is removed from a group or a role, it will lose all the power for any consequent authenticated LDAP session.