TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Strangers in a foreign land

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: MacEnterprise, networking

Strangers in a foreign land

Integrating OS X with Active Directory

By Philip Rinehart, Yale University

Active Directory!

Of the topics that come up on the Macenterprise list, Active Directory and its integration with OS X is discussed frequently. Why? Many environments are using Active Directory for integration for the Windows side of the house, and many Mac administrators don't want to manage the information store separately for Macs alone. This month we will look at some tips for working with the Active Directory plug-in. Let's get started!

Binding

Binding, what is it? Directory Services uses a machine account and "binds" the account to the Active Directory domain. When logging in, the authentication framework is able to use the bound machine's account for non-local users. As a result, a user is granted access to a machine without a local account. With the Active Directory plug-in, there are a number of intricacies that make binding difficult. We will look at one of the most common issues. Before we begin this discussion, though, remember to check forward and reverse DNS, a common binding problem. For more information about testing, check out the article here, http://macenterprise.org/content/view/305/84.

Finding my Organizational Unit

Often, an administrator does not have access to the default Organizational Unit used by the Active Directory plug-in. How does an administrator find their Organizational Unit then? Fortunately, the tools for performing a lookup are built into OS X! Let's look at a rather verbose command.

ldapsearch -LLL -Hldap://yourdomaincontroller.ad.test -x -D "admin@ad.test" -b "dc=ad,dc=test" -W  "cn=activedirectorycomputerobjectname" dn

Looks rather complicated doesn't it? Fortunately, it isn't that hard to understand once we dissect it a little bit. The first option, -LLL is not strictly necessary. However, using it omits comments, restricts the output to LDIFv1 (not important here), and the last L prevents printing of the LDIF version.

Next, the -H option is specified. This option is very important! Enter the URI of a domain controller that has a copy of the Global Catalog. Ldapsearch uses this domain controller to look up information about a computer account.

Next, the -x option is used for simple authentication, not SSL. In some cases, SSL is not used on domain controllers. The -D option is important, as it supplies the Active Directory credentials that are used to authenticate for the LDAP search.

-b provides the search base. The search base is the point in the LDAP tree where the search should begin. If unsure, enter the top level of the forest. -W is similar to using the -x option, telling ldapsearch to prompt for the password, instead of supplying it with the ldapsearch command.

The last two entries are used to get the actual Organizational Unit path. The first option "cn=activedirectorycomputerobjectname" looks for the computer account in Active Directory. The last option tells ldapsearch that only the dn attribute is important. It's o.k. not to specify it, but every attribute is then returned. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? Try executing the command once. After you have the hang of it, you will find how powerful ldapsearch can be. As a sanity check, here's an example of how the ldapsearch results might appear:

dn: CN=mbp,OU=One,OU=Two,OU=Three,OU=Four,DC=ad,DC=test

With this information, it's easy to determine the OU path for machine binding. Note however that the machine account must exist before this search is executed. The command and its results could also be wrapped in Applescript, an Automator action, or any other scripting language. Once the machine is bound, the fun begins!

Static maps

One of the hidden gems of the Active Directory plug-in is the ability to use "static maps". Usage of static maps was originally conceived for usage with the LDAP plug-in, but it can now be used for mapping any needed attributes. Let's use an example. On the list, a discussion about using NFS shares on Active Directory asked about how to provide an attribute for each user logging in that would be exactly the same. Static maps to the rescue! Here's how to do it:

This will require a little bit of command line magic. Open a terminal, and enter the following command:

dsconfigad -staticmap attributetype attributevalue

Three attributes should not be statically mapped, UID, RecordName and GeneratedUID. As stated in the man page, mapping these attributes may produce "unexpected" results. What is the syntax? It's pretty simple, first the attribute value. Attribute values are preceded by a pound sign "#". If the goal is to have every non-local user use the same value, enter #value to provide each user with that value at login. Another feature, variable mappings, is not available with the Active Directory plug-in. It should also be noted that using static maps is only available from the command line using dsconfigad.

Timeout values

Controlling the timeout values for the Active Directory plug-in involves editing the ActiveDirectory.plist in /Library/Preferences/DirectoryService. First, note that this procedure is completely unsupported by Apple! A very common problem occurs with mobile accounts and Active Directory is extremely slow logins. This problem commonly occurs due to the fact that the Domain Controller is firewalled, and unavailable outside the corporate network. For each Domain Controller, a value of 240 seconds is assigned. Imagine what happens when the laptop user goes home. Login times, and even wake from sleep times can become almost unbearably long. Fortunately, an administrator who knows what values to change in the plist can alter them, reducing the timeout times manually. Open the ActiveDirectory.plist in your favorite editor. Next search for the following entries:

<key>LDAP Connection Timeout</key>
<string>240</string>

This entry usually occurs in multiple places. Depending on your environment, change the value to a lower value. Restart the computer, and the timeout values should be in effect. It has been reported that for some environments the value may get overwritten, but in my experience it has worked.

Question marks in the Dock

The last thing that appeared recently is the appearance of a host of question marks in the dock on Intel-based machines when using the Active Directory plug-in with mobile accounts. Credit Mike Yocom and Brian Warsing for this solution. It is a bit involved, but does solve the problem quite nicely.

Step one: Convert com.apple.dock.plist for each user to xml. This task is best accomplished with a loginhook. Here is the command:

plutil -convert xml1 -o /tmp/foo.xml com.apple.dock.plist

Step two: Use a bit of xmlmagic, using xsltproc to filter out "_CFURLAliasData" entries from the plist.

xsltproc -o com.apple.dock.plist /path/to/style-sheet/com-apple-dock-style.xsl /tmp/foo.xml

And the required style sheet:

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='utf-8'?>
<xsl:stylesheet version='1.0'
xmlns:xsl='http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform'>
<xsl:output method='xml' version='1.0' encoding='utf-8' indent='yes'
doctype-public="-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN"
doctype-system="http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd"/>
<!-- This template copies the entire root -->
<xsl:template match="@*|node()">
    <xsl:copy>
        <xsl:apply-templates select="@*|node()"/>
    </xsl:copy>
</xsl:template>
<!-- This template removes the _CFURLAliasData node -->
<xsl:template match="array/dict/dict/dict/key">
    <xsl:variable name="foo">
        <xsl:value-of select="." />
    </xsl:variable>
    <xsl:choose>
        <xsl:when test="$foo = '_CFURLAliasData'">
            <!-- Do nothing. I mean don't print it -->
        </xsl:when>
        <xsl:otherwise>
            <!-- Output a copy of the orig. node -->
            <xsl:copy-of select="." />
        </xsl:otherwise>
    </xsl:choose>
</xsl:template>
<!-- This template dumps the data nodes with the alias data -->
<xsl:template match="array/dict/dict/dict/data">
    <xsl:for-each select="." />
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

Step 3: There is no step 3!

It really is that simple once all of the pieces are in place, and solves the immediate problem so that question marks will not appear in the dock. This month, we've tackled some of the most recent issues with Active Directory. As always, Active Directory integration continues to be a very complex problem, as each environment has unique qualities. Keep sending in feedback to Apple, and keep discussing on the lists, to make the Active Directory plug-in as good as it can be! One last thing, check out the following Best Practices paper about Active Directory integration from Apple: http://images.apple.com/itpro/pdf/AD_Best_Practices_2.0.pdf. It also supplies very useful information about troubleshooting and integration. Until next month, see you on the lists!


Philip Rinehart is co-chair of the steering committee leading the Mac OS X Enterprise Project (macenterprise.org) and is the Lead Mac Analyst at Yale University. He has been using Macintosh Computers since the days of the Macintosh SE, and Mac OS X since its Developer Preview Release. Before coming to Yale, he worked as a Unix system administrator for a dot-com company. He can be reached at: philip.rinehart@yale.edu. The MacEnterprise project is a community of IT professionals sharing information and solutions to support Macs in an enterprise. We collaborate on the deployment, management, and integration of Mac OS X client and server computers into multi-platform computing environments.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

RapidWeaver 6.0.8 - Create template-base...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
Artlantis Studio 5.1.2.7 - 3D rendering...
Artlantis Studio is a unique and ideal tool for performing very high resolution rendering easily and in real time. The new FastRadiosity engine now lets you compute images in radiosity-even in... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.0.5 - Search and ins...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on macupdate.... Read more
BitTorrent Sync 2.0.82 - Sync files secu...
BitTorrent Sync allows you to sync unlimited files between your own devices, or share a folder with friends and family to automatically sync anything. File transfers are encrypted. Your information... Read more
Google Drive 1.20 - File backup and shar...
Google Drive is a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you're working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé, or... Read more
Simon 4.0.3 - Monitor changes and crashe...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
Vitamin-R 2.23 - Personal productivity t...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
iDefrag 5.0.0 - Disk defragmentation and...
iDefrag helps defragment and optimize your disk for improved performance. Features include: Supports HFS and HFS+ (Mac OS Extended). Supports case sensitive and journaled filesystems. Supports... Read more
PCalc 4.2 - Full-featured scientific cal...
PCalc is a full-featured, scriptable scientific calculator with support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations, as well as an RPN mode, programmable functions, and an extensive set of unit... Read more
FileZilla 3.10.2 - Fast and reliable FTP...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.10.2: Note: Now requires a 64-bit Intel processor.... Read more

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment A...
Warner Bros. has some exciting games coming down the pipe! | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Star Trek Timelines will Prob...
GDC 2015 – Star Trek Timelines will Probably Make Your Inner Trekkie Squeal With Glee Posted by Rob Rich on March 4th, 2015 [ permalink ] Any popular fictional universe has its fair share of fan fiction – where belo | Read more »
Protect Yourself from an Onslaught of Ca...
Surprise Attack Games has announced a Cat-astrophic new physics puzzler called Fort Meow! In the game, a young girl named Nia finds her grandfather’s journal which triggers an all mighty feline attack! Why do the cats want the journal? Who knows,... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Jelly Reef will be Game Oven’...
GDC 2015 – Jelly Reef will be Game Oven’s Last Hurrah, and it Seems like a Good Note to Go Out on Posted by Rob Rich on March 4th, 2015 [ permalink ] It’s sad knowing that Game Oven ( | Read more »
daWindci Deluxe Review
daWindci Deluxe Review By Campbell Bird on March 4th, 2015 Our Rating: :: BLUSTERY PUZZLESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad This updated puzzle game offers some creative gameplay and new mechanics, but still suffers from... | Read more »
Dungeon Hunter 5 Coming on March 12
Gameloft has excitedly announced that Dungeon Hunter 5 is on its way! Once again, you will adventure across the land of Valenthia exploring dungeons and fighting monsters. The game will have a new asynchronous multiplayer mode called Strongholds... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – The Sandbox 2 is Coming, and...
GDC 2015 – The Sandbox 2 is Coming, and Now it has Textures! | Read more »
Warner Bros. Interactive Announces Mort...
Mortal Kombat X, by Warner Bros. and NetherRealm Studios, will be a a free-to-play fighting/card-battle Mortal Kombat game. The game promises card collecting, multiplayer team combat, classic characters such as Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Raiden, and the... | Read more »
GDC 2015 – Piloteer is Whitaker Trebella...
GDC 2015 – Piloteer is Whitaker Trebella’s Latest Project, and it’s Definitely Something DIfferent Posted by Rob Rich on March 3rd, 2015 [ permalink ] You know | Read more »
PangoLand Review
PangoLand Review By Amy Solomon on March 3rd, 2015 Our Rating: :: COME VISIT PANGO AND FRIENDSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad PangoLand is an open-ended world full of familiar characters, bright colors and interactive... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

iPad: A More Positive Outlook – The ‘Book Mys...
It’s good to hear someone saying positive things about the iPad. I’ve been trying to bend my mind around how Apple’s tablet could have gone from zero to bestselling personal computing device on the... Read more
Mac Pros on sale for up to $279 off MSRP
Amazon has Mac Pros in stock and on sale for up to $279 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 4-Core Mac Pro: $2725.87, $273 off MSRP (9%) - 6-Core Mac Pro: $3719.99, $279 off MSRP (7%) Read more
Sale! 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $205 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.6GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1219.99 save $80 - 13″ 2.... Read more
Another Tranche Of IBM MobileFirst For iOS Ap...
IBM has announced the next expansion phase for  its IBM MobileFirst for iOS portfolio, with a troika of new apps to address key priorities for the Banking and Financial Services, Airline and Retail... Read more
Sale! 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $250 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $... Read more
WaterField Designs Introduces the Minimalist...
With Apple Pay gaining popularity, Android Pay coming in May 2015, and loyalty cards and receipts that can be accessed from smartphones, San Francisco’s WaterField Designs observes that it may be... Read more
Sale! 15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro for $...
 Best Buy has the 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1774.99 $1799.99, or $225 off MSRP. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price valid for online orders... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (refurbished) avai...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $170 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on...
 B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…Summary** As a Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other - uniquely focused on delivering amazing customer experiences. As an Expert, you introduce people Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.