Installing FreeIPA client on Debian


Recently I had the opportunity of installing FreeIPA client on servers running the Debian operating system. I will share my experience in this blog post. FreeIPA is an excellent centralized user management system from FreeIPA.

It is free and open source. FreeIPA has lot of features other than user management such as DNS, Certificate management, Encrypted Authentication and more. In my earlier blog post titled FreeIPA - An open source centralized user management system, I have described the installation and configuration of FreeIPA server

Installing FreeIPA Client

FreeIPA server and client are very easy to install on Centos and Fedora. Configuring a Linux system as an IDM Client, is a useful guide from RedHat on installing FreeIPA clients on RedHat based systems.

Installing FreeIPA on other operating systems is a lot more difficult. Even though RedHat provides a guide titled Manually configuring a Linux client, I was not able to get it to work on Debian. The HowTo guides on the FreeIPA wiki describes the process of installing FreeIPA on non Red Hat based operating systems and integration with different applications. However these guides were not useful.

Ubuntu provides FreeIPA server and client packages on Launchpad. Ubuntu is based on Debian, but is not Debian so I went on searching for a solution for Debian. I came across a thread titled “freeipa-client on Debian Wheezy” on the Ubuntu FreeIPA mailing list. It was posted by one of the contributors of the Ubuntu FreeIPA project. He created a package for Debian and provided a repository for easy installation.

Here is how to install FreeIPA client on Debian.

# First add the following 2 lines to /etc/apt/sources.list file:
deb wheezy main
deb-src wheezy main

# Then install the package signature verification key using:
wget -qO - | apt-key add -

# Update your package lists:
apt-get update

# Set your server host name to a fully qualified domain name. e.g
vi /etc/hostname
# Install FreeIPA client
apt-get install -y freeipa-client

# Create folder for storing certificate database
mkdir -p /etc/pki/nssdb

# Create empty database for storing certificates
certutil -N -d /etc/pki/nssdb

# Create folder
mkdir -p /var/run/ipa

# Remove existing FreeIPA client configuration
rm -f /etc/ipa/default.conf

# Run the script for installing FreeIPA client
ipa-client-install --no-ntp --no-dns-sshfp --mkhomedir

# Enable auto creation of LDAP user folders
echo 'session required' >> /etc/pam.d/common-session

# Add following lines to /etc/nsswitch.conf file or update existing lines
passwd: files sss
group: files sss
shadow: files sss
# Reboot you server


After that you should be able to login to your server as a LDAP user. The user needs to be created on your FreeIPA server. I was able to get FreeIPA client working on Debian running Proxmox. In case you run into problems you an check out the bug list on Ubuntu FreeIPA forums

Published 25 Aug 2016

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