A Step-by-Step Guide to Compiling OpenLDAP


Brief overview of OpenLDAP

OpenLDAP is an open-source implementation of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), which is a protocol used for accessing and maintaining distributed directory information. The software has been in development since 1998 and has become one of the most widely-used LDAP servers worldwide. OpenLDAP provides a flexible, scalable, and secure platform for managing user information, such as usernames, passwords, access rights, and other account details.

One notable advantage of OpenLDAP is its ability to integrate with various authentication mechanisms including Kerberos, SASL (Simple Authentication and Security Layer), and TLS/SSL encryption protocols. It also supports multiple backends such as Berkeley DB or SQL databases, enabling organizations to choose the most appropriate storage mechanism based on their specific needs.

Importance of compiling OpenLDAP from source

Compiling OpenLDAP from source code provides several key benefits over using pre-built packages. Firstly, it allows users to customize their installation according to specific requirements or preferences. By modifying configuration options during the build process, users can optimize performance or add features that may not be available in pre-built packages.

Compiling from source also ensures that the latest version of the software is being used. While some operating systems may include outdated versions of OpenLDAP in their official repositories, compiling from source guarantees that users have access to all the latest features and bug fixes.

By compiling from source code users can be sure that they are installing a secure version of the software with no hidden vulnerabilities or security exploits. This level of security cannot always be guaranteed when using pre-built packages downloaded from third-party sources.


Required Software and Tools

Before compiling OpenLDAP, there are several required software and tools that you must have installed on your system. These include a C compiler, the GNU make utility, OpenSSL development libraries and headers, and the Berkeley DB development libraries and headers.

You can check whether you have these installed by running the following commands: “` gcc –version

make –version openssl version -a

db4.8_util –version “` If any of these commands fail or return an error message indicating that the software is not installed, you will need to install them before proceeding.

System Requirements

Compiling OpenLDAP from source requires a system with adequate resources to handle the build process. The minimum recommended system requirements for compiling OpenLDAP are:

  • CPU: 64-bit multi-core processor with a clock speed of at least 1 ghz
  • RAM: at least 2 gb of ram (4 gb recommended)
  • Storage: at least 5 gb of free disk space for temporary files generated during the build process.
  • Operating System: linux or bsd operating system (ubuntu 18.04 lts is recommended).

In addition to these minimum requirements, it is also recommended that you install all available updates for your operating system before proceeding with this guide. This helps ensure that you have access to the latest security patches and bug fixes.

The Importance of Prerequisites

Having all necessary prerequisites installed will save time and effort when compiling OpenLDAP from source. Failing to install these prerequisites can lead to errors during compilation, causing delays in the process as well as potentially unstable builds. Therefore, it’s important to take time to verify that all prerequisites are installed before beginning to compile OpenLDAP from source.

Downloading the Source Code

Obtaining the latest version of OpenLDAP

The first step in compiling OpenLDAP is to download the latest version from the official website. The website contains a list of all available releases, with the latest at the top.

It is recommended to download the most recent stable release, which will ensure that any known bugs or issues have been resolved. However, if you require a specific feature or patch that is not included in the latest release, you can opt for an earlier version.

To obtain OpenLDAP source code, navigate to www.openldap.org and click on “Download” in the top menu bar. This will take you to a page with all available downloads for different operating systems.

Scroll down until you see “OpenLDAP Software 2.x Releases”. Here, locate and click on “Latest stable release” link to download source code.

Choosing a Download Location

Once you’ve downloaded OpenLDAP source code package. The next step is choosing where it should be installed in your system.

You can choose any directory location as long as it has enough disk space for all components of OpenLDAP. It’s best practice to store your source code somewhere out of sight but easily accessible by your user account; perhaps create a new directory specifically for OpenLDAP and save your source there.

It’s also important that your user account has read/write access permission over this directory so that you can write files here when compiling Open LDAP from its source code. After choosing a location, extract contents from downloaded tarball using command like `tar -zxvf openldap-.tgz`.

Preparing the Environment

Installing Required Dependencies

Before compiling OpenLDAP, there are a number of dependencies that must be installed. These dependencies include the GNU C compiler (GCC), GNU Make, OpenSSL and BerkeleyDB.

To ensure that you have all the necessary dependencies installed, it is recommended that you use your distribution’s package manager to install them. For example, on Ubuntu or Debian-based distributions, you can install these dependencies by running the following command: “`

sudo apt-get install gcc make openssl libssl-dev libdb-dev “` On Red Hat or CentOS distributions, you can use the following command: “`

sudo yum install gcc make openssl-devel db4-devel cyrus-sasl-devel “` Once these dependencies have been installed, you’re ready to move on to configuring your environment.

Configuring Environment Variables

The next step is to configure your environment variables. This is important because it tells the configure script where to find certain files and libraries needed for building OpenLDAP.

One of the most important environment variables is `PATH`. The PATH variable specifies which directories should be searched for executables when they are called from a shell.

You need to ensure that it includes the directory containing the GCC compiler and other tools required for building OpenLDAP. For example, on Ubuntu or Debian-based distributions, this directory is typically `/usr/bin`.

To add this directory to your PATH variable, simply add this line at the end of your .bashrc file: “` export PATH=$PATH:/usr/bin “`

Similarly, you may need to set other environment variables depending on your system configuration and installation location of required libraries. By installing all dependencies and properly configuring environment variables will make sure that everything needed for compiling OpenLDAP from source code are available before running ./configure script in next section.

Configuring OpenLDAP

Understanding Configuration Options

Before compiling OpenLDAP, it’s essential to understand the configuration options available. The configuration file, typically located at `./configure`, contains crucial settings that determine the behavior of the compiled OpenLDAP instance.

For example, you can configure the backend database type (i.e., BDB or LMDB), access control lists (ACLs) for read/write permissions, logging options, and more. To modify configuration settings for OpenLDAP, you’ll need to edit the configure file.

You can use a text editor like VIM or Nano to make changes. However, it’s important to note that some settings may require dependencies that need to be installed before compilation.

Customizing Configuration Settings

After understanding the various configuration options available in OpenLDAP, it’s time to customize them accordingly. This customization is crucial as it helps tailor your installation specifically for your needs and environment.

One common customization involves setting up user authentication methods such as SASL or Kerberos authentication. Others include setting up a root distinguished name (DN) and password or enabling SSL/TLS encryption.

Fortunately, most configurations are simple edits in the configure file using flags such as `–with-ssl` or `–enable-modules`. However, some configurations may require additional dependencies that must be installed first.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

When configuring OpenLDAP, there are several common pitfalls you should aim to avoid. First off is failing to install required dependencies before attempting compilation – this will result in errors during installation. Similarly, it’s important not to skip over critical steps such as configuring SSL/TLS encryption or root DN and password setup.

Another common pitfall is neglecting security when customizing configurations – always ensure secure user authentication methods are enabled and avoid using default passwords. Additionally, don’t hesitate to consult the OpenLDAP documentation or seek help from online communities if you encounter configuration issues.

Compiling and Installing OpenLDAP

Running the configure Script

Once all dependencies are installed, the next step is to run the configure script. This script is responsible for generating the Makefile used to build OpenLDAP.

Configure can be run with options to specify installation paths or enable/disable features. For example, if we want to install OpenLDAP under /opt/openldap, we can use the following command:

./configure --prefix=/opt/openldap

We can also enable or disable certain features using options like –enable-feature or –disable-feature. For example, if we want to disable SASL support, we can use:

./configure --disable-sasl

After running configure successfully, it will generate a Makefile that contains instructions on how to build and install OpenLDAP.

Building and Installing Binaries

With a successful configuration, we can now build and install OpenLDAP. To do so, simply run ‘make’ followed by ‘make install’. The ‘make’ command will compile all necessary binaries based on the generated Makefile.

Once complete, ‘make install’ will copy these binaries to their specified locations.

# Build 

make # Install

sudo make installAfter installation is complete, it’s important to verify that all necessary files have been installed in their proper locations.

This includes configuration files in /usr/local/etc/openldap and binary files in /usr/local/bin. A common mistake when compiling from source is failing to specify installation paths during configuration- this can result in unexpected installation locations.

The process of compiling and installing OpenLDAP from source may seem daunting at first glance but following these steps should make it fairly straightforward. By taking ownership of the installation process, administrators can fine-tune their OpenLDAP deployment to meet their specific needs.

Testing the Installation

Verifying successful installation

After successfully compiling and installing OpenLDAP, it is essential to test the installation to ensure that everything is working correctly. The first step in testing the installation is verifying that OpenLDAP is running correctly. You can check this by running the following command on your terminal: “`

sudo systemctl status slapd “` If you see an output showing that OpenLDAP is active and running, then your installation was successful.

Next, you will need to verify that you can authenticate with OpenLDAP using an LDAP client. One way to do this is by using the `ldapsearch` command-line tool.

You can perform a simple search query and verify if there are any results returned. For example: “`

ldapsearch -x -b ‘dc=example,dc=com’ ‘(cn=*)’ “` This command should return all entries in the database with a cn attribute.

Troubleshooting common issues

If you encounter any issues while testing your installation, it’s essential to troubleshoot them promptly. Here are some common problems you might face and how to resolve them:

“ldap_bind: Invalid credentials (49)” error: This error occurs when the client fails to authenticate against OpenLDAP. Ensure that you have provided the right credentials in either plain text or hashed format.

“Can’t contact LDAP server” error: This error indicates a problem with network connectivity or DNS resolution issues between your LDAP client and server. Ensure that your client can reach your LDAP server on its IP address or hostname.

“slapadd: could not parse entry” error: This issue usually occurs when there are syntax errors or other problems in your LDIF file when loading data into OpenLDAP using `slapadd`. Check for missing attributes, improper syntax, or invalid characters in your LDIF file.

Testing your OpenLDAP installation is crucial to ensure that everything is working correctly. By understanding how to verify a successful installation and troubleshoot any issues you encounter along the way, you can have an error-free experience with OpenLDAP.

Advanced Topics

LDAP Replication Setup: Perfecting Your OpenLDAP System

Once you have set up your OpenLDAP system, the next step is to improve its availability and reliability. One way of doing this is by setting up LDAP replication. LDAP replication is the process of synchronizing data across multiple OpenLDAP servers in real-time.

This ensures that if one server goes down, another server can continue serving requests without any downtime. To set up LDAP replication, you will need at least two OpenLDAP servers.

One server will act as the master or provider while the other as a slave or consumer. The master server is responsible for writing updates while the slave server reads those changes and applies them to its database.

The setup process involves installing and configuring a separate program called slurpd, which listens to changes made in the master’s database and sends them to all subscribed slaves using LDAP synchronization protocols. Proper configuration of slurpd ensures smooth replication between all OpenLDAP servers in your organization.

LDAP Backup and Restore: Safeguarding Your Data

Backing up your OpenLDAP data regularly can be a lifesaver in case of data loss or corruption. You can back up your entire database using slapcat command-line utility that allows you to create an LDIF file containing all entries from your directory tree.

To perform a backup, run “sudo slapcat -l /path/to/backup.ldif” command on each master and slave server separately. This creates an LDIF file with all directory tree entries from that particular instance of OpenLDAP system.

When restoring data from backups, you should ensure that backups are always available on multiple systems for redundancy purposes. Additionally, when restoring imported data into your environment, it’s essential to verify their integrity before making them live again.

Implementing advanced features like LDAP replication setup and backups can make a big difference in the availability, reliability, and security of your OpenLDAP system. By following these steps, you can safeguard your data and ensure that your OpenLDAP system is always up to date.


Compiling OpenLDAP from source can seem daunting at first, but by following the steps outlined in this guide, it can be a straightforward process. It is important to note that compiling from source offers many benefits over using pre-built packages.

Summary of Steps to Compile OpenLDAP from Source

The steps involved in compiling OpenLDAP from source are as follows:

  1. Ensure all prerequisites are installed and system requirements are met.
  2. Download the latest version of OpenLDAP.
  3. Prepare the environment by installing dependencies and configuring environment variables.
  4. Configure OpenLDAP by understanding configuration options and customizing settings.
  5. Compile and install OpenLDAP by running the configure script and building/installing binaries.
  6. Test the installation to verify success and troubleshoot any common issues.

The Benefits of Compiling from Source over Using Pre-built Packages

The main benefit of compiling OpenLDAP from source is greater control over configuration options. By customizing settings during compilation, administrators can optimize performance for their specific use case. Additionally, compiled binaries often offer better performance than pre-built packages because they are optimized for a particular system.

In addition to greater control and better performance, another benefit of compiling from source is increased security. Pre-built packages may include features or modules that an organization does not need or want, increasing their attack surface.

By only including necessary features during compilation, organizations can reduce their security risk. Overall, while there is a bit of a learning curve involved in compiling software such as OpenLDAP from source code, the benefits make it worth considering for organizations with specific configuration requirements or high-performance demands.


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