Microsoft developed Active Directory (AD) to provide authentication and authorization for a broad range of identity-related services. AD also provides a framework in which certificate services, federation services, lightweight directory services, rights management services, etc. run. AD was not built to integrate into Linux and Mac, into web-based applications, or the cloud. LDAP and RADIUS are the best active directory alternatives for Linux and Mac.

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LDAP

LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) is a protocol that allows applications to integrate directory data from a centrally hosted database.
 
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Directory Structure

  • A directory is like a database, but it contains attribute-based information.
  • Every entry of the directory has a set of attributes.
  • Every attribute has a name and some values. These attributes are defined in a schema.
  • Each entry of the directive is recognized via the use of a unique identifier known as its Distinguished Name (DN).
  • Each entry also has its Relative Distinguished Name (RDN).
  • The DN can be thought of as a full file path, while the RDN is the relative filename in the parent folder. For example: DN- /foo/bar/newfile.txt, RDN-newfile.txt.
  • A DN might change over the lifetime of the entry if the entries are moved inside the tree.

LDAP Components

LDAP Server:

An LDAP Server is where the directory is situated.

LDAP Client:

An LDAP Client is the system that contacts the LDAP Server to fetch the directory entries.

LDAP Session

An LDAP session is when an LDAP client connects to the LDAP server.

LDAP Operations

The following operations are carried out in an LDAP operation:
Add

Add operation inserts a new entry to the directory server database. If a DN already exists in the directory, a new entry will not be added.

Bind

Bind operation allows an LDAP client to authenticate to the LDAP server when an LDAP session is started.

Delete

Delete operation removes an entry when an LDAP client transmits a delete request to the LDAP Server.

Search and Compare

Search operation is used to read and search for entries.

Modify

Modify operation is used by LDAP clients to request the LDAP Server to make changes to existing entries.

Modify DN

Modify DN operation uses a new RDN to modify the new parent’s DN.

Working

To authenticate a user with an LDAP, it is important to obtain the user’s DN as well as their password. In a login form, users typically enter their username or email address. An LDAP client sends a request to the LDAP Server and uses DN resolution to take the user’s name or email, run a search against the user entries and find the matching DN.

If the username is matched with the DN, the LDAP Server authenticates the user and grants access to the system. If the username is not matched, authentication fails.

Using FoxPass LDAP as an Active Directory alternative,You can use FoxPass LDAP as an Active Directory alternative for Linux and Mac. Your application can integrate with Foxpass to bind with an anonymous LDAP Binder and perform a search to get a list of users and groups from an LDAP Server. SSH key-based logins use alternative methods of authentication.

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To configure a connection using Foxpass:

  1. Create an LDAP Binder.
  2. Configure your application using binder credentials and Foxpass server values.
  3. Test to make sure the bind is working as expected.

Using Foxpass, you can also debug and troubleshoot issues with your LDAP connection with ease. You can check LDAP logs to ensure that the configuration is correct.

Foxpass also offers exceptional support. For any issues related to the LDAP connection, you can easily contact help@foxpass.com.

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RADIUS

RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) protocol is another active directory alternative for Linux and Mac. Radius is a protocol used for authenticating users onto a local network. With the use of the Radius server, users can log into a network using an individual username and password. RADIUS can also separate the traffic of users or segment users to a particular sub-network.

Radius allows organizations to maintain user profiles in a central database (Radius Server) that remote servers can share.

Radius Components

Radius uses two packets to manage Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA):
Access Request:

Access request manages authentication and authorization.

Accounting-Request:

Accounting request manages accounting.

Working

To authenticate to a network resource, a user or a user machine sends a request to the Network Access Server (NAS) using access credentials. The NAS sends an Access-Request message using a Radius protocol, to a RADIUS server. The request typically comprises of access credentials in the form of username or password.

The Radius server validates the message using authentication schemes. After verification, the Radius server returns the response to the NAS. The response can be:
Access-Reject:

User is unconditionally denied access to all requested resources.

Access Challenge:

User is required to provide additional information such as secondary password, token, card, or PIN.

Access-Accept:

User is granted access.

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After network access is granted to the user, the Accounting-Start request packet is sent by the NAS to the Radius Server to start the accounting of the user's network access. When the user's network access is finished, the Accounting-Stop request is issued by the NAS to the RADIUS server. This is used for billing purposes.

Using FoxPass RADIUS as an Active Directory alternative

You can use Foxpass Radius as an active directory alternative for Linux and Mac. The process involves:

  • Creating a RADIUS Client to register your endpoint with Foxpass.
  • Configure your access point, switch, or VPN with your Radius Secret and specific Foxpass attributes.
  • Configure phones, computers, and other devices to connect to RADIUS using the appropriate protocol.

Using Foxpass, you can also debug and troubleshoot issues with your RADIUS connection with ease. You can check RADIUS logs to ensure that the configuration is correct.

Foxpass also offers exceptional support. For any issues related to the connection, you can contact help@foxpass.com.