Server 3.x


This document describes how to configure LDAP. We assume you used the deploy_${DIST}.sh script to deploy the software.

The LDAP integration can be used both for authentication and authorization.

This document talks about authentication. See Permissions for more on authorization.

NOTE: in vpn-user-portal >= 3.4.0 the userIdAttribute key MUST be set, it is no longer optional!


In order to configure LDAP on your VPN server for authentication it is a good idea to start with ldapsearch if you are not absolutely sure what to configure. Once ldapsearch works, it becomes easier to configure the LDAP module. Make sure you test from your VPN server so you are sure you actually can access the LDAP server. You SHOULD use TLS to talk to your LDAP server.

First, install ldapsearch and the PHP module for LDAP:

$ sudo dnf install openldap-clients php-ldap  # Fedora / EL
$ sudo apt install ldap-utils php-ldap        # Debian / Ubuntu

Restart PHP to activate the LDAP module:

$ sudo systemctl restart php-fpm                            # Fedora / EL
$ sudo systemctl restart php$(/usr/sbin/phpquery -V)-fpm    # Debian / Ubuntu

You need a couple of details first, you can obtain those from your LDAP administrator, you need at least:

We tested with the following LDAP servers:


We’ll show some example ldapsearch commands you can use to verify you have all the required information to configure LDAP in your VPN server. Then we’ll show the configuration “block” to use for your particular scenario.

In order to make the portal use LDAP authentication, you need to modify the configuration file /etc/vpn-user-portal/config.php.

You have to set authModule first:

'authModule' => 'LdapAuthModule',

Next, you’ll configure the LdapAuthModule block. Examples for that are shown below, all allowed configuration options can be found here.

Username in DN#

The most simple case is the scenario where the username is part of the DN in the LDAP server, e.g. uid=alice,ou=people,dc=example,dc=org. We can directly try to bind with this DN, verify the password and obtain (some) attributes. For example:

$ ldapsearch -LLL -W -x -H ldap:// -D 'uid=alice,ou=people,dc=example,dc=org' -b 'uid=alice,ou=people,dc=example,dc=org' uid memberOf
Enter LDAP Password: 
dn: uid=alice,ou=people,dc=example,dc=org
uid: alice
memberOf: cn=employees,ou=groups,dc=example,dc=org

The ldapsearch asks for the user’s password. After providing the correct one, it shows the attribute values for the attributes uid and memberOf. The full LDAP configuration will look like this:

'LdapAuthModule' => [
    'ldapUri' => 'ldap://',
    'bindDnTemplate' => 'uid={{UID}},ou=people,dc=example,dc=org',
    'userIdAttribute' => 'uid',
    'permissionAttributeList' => ['memberOf'],

Username NOT in DN#

Some LDAP servers do not directly specify the username in the DN of the LDAP entries, but it is only available as an attribute. For example the DN looks like this: cn=Bob,ou=people,dc=example,dc=org. In that case, you’ll need to search for the user first with the attribute you want to use, for example:

$ ldapsearch -LLL -x -H ldap:// -b 'ou=people,dc=example,dc=org' '(uid=bob)'
dn: cn=Bob,ou=people,dc=example,dc=org

This LDAP server allows for anonymous binds to search through the LDAP. If your server does not, you need to specify an account to bind to the LDAP in order to perform the search for the user’s DN. In the example below we use an “admin” account, obviously you MUST NOT do that and use a read only account that can only be used to search the LDAP.

$ ldapsearch -LLL -W -x -H ldap:// -D 'cn=admin,dc=example,dc=org' -b 'ou=people,dc=example,dc=org' '(uid=bob)'
Enter LDAP Password: 
dn: cn=Bob,ou=people,dc=example,dc=org

Now that we figured out the DN, we can bind with that DN and the user’s password and obtain the attributes we want:

$ ldapsearch -LLL -W -x -H ldap:// -D 'cn=Bob,ou=people,dc=example,dc=org' -b 'cn=Bob,ou=people,dc=example,dc=org' uid memberOf
Enter LDAP Password: 
uid: bob
memberOf: cn=employees,ou=groups,dc=example,dc=org

The full LDAP configuration will look like this:

'LdapAuthModule' => [
    'ldapUri' => 'ldap://',
    'baseDn' => 'ou=people,dc=example,dc=org',
    'userFilterTemplate' => '(uid={{UID}})',
    'userIdAttribute' => 'uid',
    'permissionAttributeList' => ['memberOf'],

    // **only if** an account is needed because "anonymous bind" for search is 
    // not possible
    //'searchBindDn' => 'cn=admin,dc=example,dc=org',
    //'searchBindPass' => 's3cr3t',

Active Directory and Azure ADDS#

Configuring Active Directory is basically the same as Username NOT in DN, but we’ll go a bit more in detail here.

When using Active Directory, you always need to set baseDn and userFilterTemplate, this is because when “binding” with AD the DN used is not a real DN, but has the format EXAMPLE\user or An example:

'LdapAuthModule' => [
    'ldapUri' => 'ldap://',
    'bindDnTemplate' =>  'EXAMPLE\\{{UID}}',
    'baseDn' => 'dc=example,dc=org',
    'userFilterTemplate' => '(sAMAccountName={{UID}})',
    'userIdAttribute' => 'sAMAccountName',
    'permissionAttributeList' => ['memberOf'],

Alternatively, you can also first search for the user, then you do not need to set bindDnTemplate, but you MAY have to set searchBindDn and searchBindPass if the AD does not allow anonymous bind and search. This has been verified to work with Azure ADDS as well. For example:

'LdapAuthModule' => [
    'ldapUri' => 'ldap://',
    'baseDn' => 'dc=example,dc=org',
    'userFilterTemplate' => '(sAMAccountName={{UID}})',
    'userIdAttribute' => 'sAMAccountName',
    'permissionAttributeList' => ['memberOf'],
    'searchBindDn' => 'EXAMPLE\admin',
    'searchBindPass' => 's3r3t',

Where EXAMPLE\admin is a user that has the option to search the AD, you obviously do NOT want this to be a privileged account!

If is recommended to use bindDnTemplate as in that case you do not need to store any secrets in the LDAP configuration.

Configuration Options#

This is a full overview of all the configuration options.

Option Required Type Example Since
ldapUri Yes string ldaps://
userIdAttribute Yes string uid
bindDnTemplate No* string uid={{UID}},ou=people,dc=example,dc=org
baseDn No* string ou=people,dc=example,dc=org
userFilterTemplate No* string (uid={{UID}})
addRealm No string
searchBindDn No string cn=admin,dc=example,dc=org
searchBindPass No string s3cr3t
permissionAttributeList No array<string> ['memberOf']
tlsCa No string /etc/vpn-user-portal/ldap/ldap-ca.crt 3.4.0
tlsCert No string /etc/vpn-user-portal/ldap/ldap-client.crt 3.4.0
tlsKey No string /etc/vpn-user-portal/ldap/ldap-client.key 3.4.0

NOTE: {{UID}} is a special template variable that is replaced by what the user specifies in the “User Name” box at login in the portal. If you specify DOMAIN\{{UID}} as bindDnTemplate in the configuration, the actual “bind DN” will become DOMAIN\alice assuming the user entered alice as “User Name” in the portal.

NOTE: * you MUST either specify bindDnTemplate, or baseDn together with userFilterTemplate to be able to find a DN for a particular user. If you are using a bindDnTemplate that is not a “real DN”, e.g. when using DOMAIN\{{UID}} you MUST also specify baseDn and userFilterTemplate in order to search for the actual DN of the user account. See Active Directory.

The userIdAttribute is used to normalize the user identity. For LDAP both alice and AlIcE are the same. By querying the userIdAttribute we take the exact same format as used in the LDAP server. This avoids creating multiple accounts in the VPN service with different case. You MUST specify the userIdAttribute.

You can restrict access to the VPN service to a subset of the users in the LDAP server by following the Permissions documentation, or (not recommended) by using a filter that only returns results in case the user entry matches a specific filter.


In order to use LDAPS, you can use the LDAPS scheme in the baseUri configuration option, e.g.:

'ldapUri' => 'ldaps://',

In case the TLS connection does NOT work, you can use the -d parameter with ldapsearch to show more details as to why the connection does not work, e.g.:

$ ldapsearch -d 3 -LLL -W -x -H ldaps:// ...

If you temporary want to disable the TLS server certificate checking you can use this:

$ LDAPTLS_REQCERT=never ldapsearch ...

Custom CA#

NOTE: this only works from vpn-user-portal >= 3.4.0

If your LDAP server does not have a publicly trusted certificate, you can configure the CA that issued the certificate in the LdapAuthModule section, e.g.:

'LdapAuthModule' => [

    // ...
    // other LDAP configuration options...
    // ...

    'tlsCa' => '/etc/vpn-user-portal/ldap/ldap-ca.crt',

It is the easiest to create a directory /etc/vpn-user-portal/ldap and put the CA certificate in there. Make sure the CA cert file has group readable, e.g. 0640 permissions.

To test LDAP connections using ldapsearch over TLS with a custom CA, you can use the environment variable LDAPTLS_CACERT, e.g.:

$ LDAPTLS_CACERT=/etc/vpn-user-portal/ldap/ldap-ca.crt ldapsearch -LLL -W -x -H ldaps:// ...

Client Certificate Authentication#

NOTE: this is only available in vpn-user-portal >= 3.4.0

If your LDAP server requires authentication using TLS client certificates, i.e. “mutual TLS”, you can configure the certificate and key in the LdapAuthModule section:

'LdapAuthModule' => [

    // ...
    // other LDAP configuration options...
    // ...

    'tlsCert' => '/etc/vpn-user-portal/ldap/ldap-client.crt',
    'tlsKey' => '/etc/vpn-user-portal/ldap/ldap-client.key', 

It is the easiest to create a directory /etc/vpn-user-portal/ldap and put the certificate and key certificate in there. Make sure the certificate and key file have group readable, e.g. 0640 permissions.

You MUST restart php-fpm to pick up the changes. On Fedora / EL:

$ sudo systemctl restart php-fpm

On Debian / Ubuntu:

$ sudo systemctl restart php$(/usr/sbin/phpquery -V)-fpm


You can use ldapsearch to figure out what would be the required values for the various configuration options and test them independently of the VPN service. This is HIGHLY recommended!

In case this turns out to not be enough, additional logging is written to syslog. You can view the log regarding authentication using journalctl, i.e.:

$ sudo journalctl -f -t vpn-user-portal

After running this, try to authenticate to the portal and if something goes wrong, you’ll see it in the log, e.g.:

$ sudo journalctl -f -t vpn-user-portal
Jul 26 11:10:46 vpn-user-portal[150350]: Unable to validate credentials: LDAP error: (49) Invalid credentials
Jul 26 11:11:42 vpn-user-portal[150726]: Unable to validate credentials: user ID attribute "uidX" not available in LDAP response