Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Linux SSO to AD

This is a break from the traditional types of posts. It's more of an instructional howto, but I hope that it is valuable nonetheless.

Ah, the holy grail of Identity Management: Single Sign On. And in today's enterprise, that likely means Microsoft's Active Directory at the back end. While directions for bringing unix/linux boxes into the AD forest have been out there, they have been sticky at least, requiring random config changes to PAM, Kerberos, Samba, LDAP(S), etc.

Enter likewise-open, which is a great way to package all those up. It's a free software package that also comes with optional enterprise support, which anti-free-and-open-source companies tend to like.

Sure, there are tons of great examples out there that will tell you how to get likewise-open installed (which is a dream compared to the old days of manually configuring Kerberos, PAM, etc.). BUT, they leave you high and dry with any user in the whole domain (possibly the forest) being able to log into the computer, since they focus on "authentication" and not "authorization". Since when is that better than less passwords? They also don't properly show how to manage privileged access once logged in. So the following are some subtle configuration details and nuggets for which I have had to comb the web and anyone who really does enterprise SSO will appreciate.

This will assume you have likewise-open installed, which if you don't, on Ubuntu it's as simple as: sudo apt-get install likewise-open.

For that matter, this entire thing assumes Ubuntu, but would work elsewhere (paths may vary).

Joining to the domain is very easy, too: sudo domainjoin-cli join UserID

Now, you probably want to limit who can log on to the shell to just admins. After all, it's Unix; it's not a toy. Use your favorite text editor (as root or sudo) and edit /etc/security/pam_lwidentity.conf. Uncomment this line require_membership_of and add an AD group containing those admins in the Domain\Group format.

Next you'll want to make sure those admins can use sudo otherwise you'll have a root password management problem (the whole point of SSO is to reduce the number of passwords to manage, right?). Edit the /etc/sudoers file by typing sudo visudo and add a line in this format: %DOMAIN\\Group ALL=(ALL) ALL (if you want to allow everything-- follow normal sudo permissions rules to restrict further).

Last, but not least, you'll probably want to get a psychological acceptance from administrators as a security design principle, right? In order to do that, let's get rid of that pesky Domain\UserID format and just use the UserID format. After all, who wants to type in ssh 'domain\userid'@computername when they can just type in ssh computername? This is the coup de grĂ¢ce in favor of less passwords. Again, as root or sudo, edit /etc/samba/lwiauthd.conf and add winbind use default domain = yes to the end of the file. If you're in a multi-domain forest, you're up a creek (not to mention you probably have a less than simple environment anyway), and at a minimum your users in other domains will have to specify the domain\userid format. But users in the same domain can log in without the domain\ prefix.

One recipe for quick SSO to AD on Unix/Linux in a mere few minutes. Enjoy.

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