Revision 6 as of 2006-11-10 17:25:36

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Authenticating Edubuntu clients (workstations and LTSP servers) against an Edubuntu network auth server.


To provide centralized user management in a school using Edubuntu, an [ Edubuntu network authentication server] is implemented. To authenticate against such a server a certain client setup is required. This spec outlines what will be done to achieve client authentication on Edubuntu LTSP servers and workstations.

Use cases

Will is an administrator at a high school. He used to use an Edubuntu LTSP server in one classroom to test the functionality. Since the software convinced him, he will now set up his whole school with Edubuntu and set up an Edubuntu network authentication server where he maintains the students' accounts for the whole school and their home directories. After he installed the edubuntu-auth-client metapackage on all his workstations and LTSP servers, all his students log in via the centralized service without problems.


Out of the box working authentication against an Edubuntu network authserver.

Design and Implementation

A metapackage called edubuntu-auth-client will be created. It will depend on (which will provide the basic authentication functionality) as well as on libpam-mount, libpam-ldap, libnss-ldap and libpam-ccreds.

The libpam-mount, libpam-ldap, libnss-ldap and libpam-ccreds packages will move to main.

A dependency on the edsadmin package (handled in edubuntu-auth-server) will be created. In the postinst of the edubuntu-auth-client package, the menu entry of the users-admin tool shipped by gnome-system-tools will be disabled to avoid the confusion of having two user management tools.

The postinst of edubuntu-auth-client will ask for the desired domain name and for the IP address of the LDAP server and preseed the authtool debconf values with it.

The Edubuntu CD will get a new networked-workstation preseed file that pulls in the edubuntu-auth-client package. This way the user will still have the option to install a complete standalone workstation.

Edubuntu LTSP server installs will install the edubuntu-auth-client by default.

For mounting /home an NFS export is required on the authentication server, the edubuntu-auth-server will care for this.

The password tool of the "About Me" application shipped by default in Ubuntu/Edubuntu will be enhanced to operate properly with the user's password on an LDAP server.

Unresolved issues

The pam-mount binary needs to be extended to read the user's home directory location from the LDAP server.

  • Is making it use libpam-ldap not enough? Does it do hardcoded stuff with /etc/passwd? --ColinWatson