Friday, 3 February 2017

Using LDAPS (LDAP+TLS) from within the Sendmail configuration file



1. Introduction.

2. Installing and configuring OpenLDAP certificate database

3. SELinux configuration.

4. LDAP+TLS in


1. Introduction.

If one need to implement LDAP+TLS to securely connect sendmail daemon to the LDAP directory server, they need to enable and use the existing OpenLDAP integration of Sendmail. Most of the modern Linux distributions provide as a part of their package collections Sendmail compiled with OpenLDAP integration. But when it comes to configure Sendmail to connect to LDAP server by securing the TCP session with TLS it is very hard to find online an useful example. Almost all examples available explain how to configure Sendmail to use LDAP server through a plain TCP session. The goal of this document is to explain how to do that configuration. The explanations bellow are 100% compatible to Sendmail setup based on CentOS 7 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, but they might be implemented to any other modern Linux distribution as well.


2. Installing and configuring OpenLDAP certificate database.

In CentOS 7 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 the OpenLDAP clients configuration used by default the configuration and certificated based located in the directory /etc/openldap. That folder is supplied to the system by the package named openldap. In most cases, but also depend on the type of the installation, the package openldap should be presented in the system by default. Nevertheless one must check and verify that the package exists and it is up to date (not keeping your system up to date is risky). If the package openldap is not presented, install it by using yum:

# yum install openldap

If the installation is successful the package will create the folders /etc/openldap and /etc/openldap/certs. That last folder contains NSS database:


There the file named "password" contains the password for unlocking the NSS database when accessing the stored private keys and passwords. The NSS base is created empty by default which means that one must add there at least the CA certificate that helps to verify the validity of the LDAP server X.509 certificate (the LDAP server Sendmail will be connected to). For example, if the CA X.509 certificate "COMODO RSA Certification Authority", stored in PEM format in the file /tmp/COMODO_RSA_Certification_Authority.crt, should be added to the NSS database and trusted, that can be done in the following way:

# cd /etc/openldap/certs # certutil -A -d . -n "COMODO RSA Certification Authority" -a -i /tmp/COMODO_RSA_Certification_Authority.crt -t "CT,c,"

Please, note that the use of NSS libraries with OpenLDAP is specific to CentOS and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. Another Linux distributions might use OpenSSL libraries instead of NSS ones.


3. SELinux configuration.

By default the Sendmail OpenLDAP client process cannot access the NSS certificate database of OpenLDAP. In order to make the access possible, one need to set the SELinux boolean authlogin_nsswitch_use_ldap to true:

# setsebool -P authlogin_nsswitch_use_ldap 1


4. LDAP+TLS in

The LDAP+TLS can be configured by using a specific URI format "-H ldaps://hosname:port", where the port number is optional. Bellow is a detailed example in m4 format which need to become part of the m4 Sendmail configuration file sendmail.m4:

define(`confLDAP_DEFAULT_SPEC', `-H ldaps:// -b "" -d "cn=sendmail,ou=Special Users," -M simple -P /etc/mail/password-sendmail.ldap')dnl

If one need to specify the LDAP client settings directly in the following configuration line should be added there:

O LDAPDefaultSpec=-H ldaps:// -b "" -d "cn=sendmail,ou=Special Users," -M simple -P /etc/mail/password-sendmail.ldap