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

Ableton Live 9.7.1 - Record music using...
Ableton Live lets you create and record music on your Mac. Use digital instruments, pre-recorded sounds, and sampled loops to arrange, produce, and perform your music like never before. Ableton Live... Read more
FileZilla 3.23.0.2 - Fast and reliable F...
FileZilla (ported from Windows) is a fast and reliable FTP client and server with lots of useful features and an intuitive interface. Version 3.23.0.2: Bug Fixes and Minor Changes Speed up icon... Read more
Vivaldi 1.5.658.56 - An advanced browser...
Vivaldi is a browser for our friends. In 1994, two programmers started working on a web browser. Our idea was to make a really fast browser, capable of running on limited hardware, keeping in mind... Read more
Safari Technology Preview 10.1 - The new...
Safari Technology Preview contains the most recent additions and improvements to WebKit and the latest advances in Safari web technologies. And once installed, you will receive notifications of... Read more
TunnelBear 3.0.8 - Subscription-based pr...
TunnelBear is a subscription-based virtual private network (VPN) service and companion app, enabling you to browse the internet privately and securely. Features Browse privately - Secure your data... Read more
NeoFinder 7.0 - Catalog your external me...
NeoFinder (formerly CDFinder) rapidly organizes your data, either on external or internal disks, or any other volumes. It catalogs all your data, so you stay in control of your data archive or disk... Read more
Coda 2.6 - One-window Web development su...
Coda is a powerful Web editor that puts everything in one place. An editor. Terminal. CSS. Files. With Coda 2, we went beyond expectations. With loads of new, much-requested features, a few surprises... Read more
File Juicer 4.51 - Extract images, video...
File Juicer is a drag-and-drop can opener and data archaeologist. Its specialty is to find and extract images, video, audio, or text from files which are hard to open in other ways. In computer... Read more
PDFpenPro 8.3 - $124.95
PDFpenPro allows users to edit PDF's easily. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Create fillable forms and tables of content... Read more
PDFpen 8.3 - $74.95
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Clash of Clans is getting its own animat...
Riding on its unending wave of fame and success, Clash of Clans is getting an animated web series based on its Clash-A-Rama animated shorts.As opposed to the current shorts' 60 second run time, the new and improved Clash-A-Rama will be comprised of... | Read more »
Leaks hint at Pokémon GO and Starbucks C...
Leaked images from a hub for Starbucks employees suggests that a big Pokémon GO event with the coffee giant could begin this very week. The images appeared on Reddit and hint at some exciting new things to come for Niantic's smash hit game. | Read more »
Silent Depth Submarine Simulation (Game...
Silent Depth Submarine Simulation 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Enneas Saga lets you lead your own demon...
Defend the land of Enneas Continent from the forces of evil in the new fantasy MMORPG from Lyto Mobi: Enneas Saga. Can’t wait? No problem. It’s available to download now on Android devices. | Read more »
Great zombie games in the spirit of Dead...
Dead Rising 4 arrives tomorrow, giving enthusiasts a fresh chance to take selfies with zombies and get up to other ridiculous end-of-the-world shenanigans. To really get into the spirit of things, we've gone and gathered the best zombie games that... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon 4 Guide: Advanced tips a...
Amateur Surgeon 4 is still tackling the competition at the top of the App Store charts, so if you haven't tried it out yet, you should probably do that right away. If you've been at it for a while, though, perhaps you're ready to start expanding... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon 4 Guide: Become the worl...
It's time to wield your trusty pizza cutter again, as Amateur Surgeon has returned with a whole fresh set of challenges (and some old, familiar ones, too). Starting anew isn't easy, especially when all you have at your disposal is a lighter, the... | Read more »
Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire (Ga...
Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Telltale Games really is working on a Gu...
Telltale Games' next episodic adventure is indeed Guardians of the Galaxy. A document tied to the voice actors strike suggested that the project was in the work, but now we have direct confirmation following an announcement at the Game Awards that... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon returns to iOS and Andro...
Amateur Surgeon and its two sequels disappeared from the App Store some time and it was sad days for all. But now, just in time for the holidays, the Adult Swim favorite makes its joyous return in the shape of Amateur Surgeon 4, a remake with... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Twenty-Five Years Of Apple Laptops – A person...
Among many other things, the often tumultuous 16th year of the new century marked the 25th anniversary of Apple laptop computers, not counting the optimistically named 16-pound Mac Portable of 1989.... Read more
Landlordy iOS App Adds Support For Appliances...
Riga, Latvia based E-protect SIA is releasing major update (version 1.8) to its Landlordy app for managing rental business financials on the go. Landlordy is iPhone and iPad app designed for self-... Read more
Holiday sale, Apple iMacs for up to $200 off...
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $... Read more
Holiday sale: Mac minis for $50 to $100 off M...
B&H Photo has Mac minis on sale for up to $100 off MSRP free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $449 $50 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $629 $70 off MSRP - 2.8GHz Mac mini: $899 $... Read more
Mac Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP, ref...
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2799, $200 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3699, $... Read more
12-inch WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up t...
B&H Photo has 12″ WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up to $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749 $50 off MSRP... Read more
9-inch Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for $20-$...
B&H Photo has 9.7″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for $20-$50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 9″ Space Gray 256GB WiFi iPad Pro: $779.95 $20 off MSRP... Read more
Apple refurbished 2015 15-inch MacBook Pros a...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 15″ Retina MacBook Pros available starting at $1699. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro... Read more
Back in stock! 13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook...
Apple has Apple Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pros (MF839LL/A) available again for $1099 including free shipping. That’s $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price... Read more
Slate Tablet Market Share to Fall Below 75% i...
After two years of decline, the tablet market is showing signs of new life as productivity trumps entertainment, and tablets become cost-effective computing devices for both entertainment and... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Philade...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- San Ant...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Products Tester Needed - Apple (Unit...
…we therefore look forward to put out products to quality test for durability. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, Read more
SW Engineer *Apple* TV Frameworks - Apple I...
The Apple TV team is looking for a software...create features that reflect the look and feel of Apple TV. Description: Were looking for someone who is Read more
Hardware Design Validation Engineer - *Apple...
The Apple Watch team is looking for a Hardware Design Validation Engineer. This person will be part of the Apple Watch hardware team with responsibilities for Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.