Users and groups

Account providers

NethServer supports authentication and authorization against either a local or remote account provider.

Supported provider types are:

  • Local OpenLDAP running on NethServer itself,
  • Remote LDAP server with RFC2307 schema,
  • Local Samba 4 Active Directory Domain Controller,
  • Remote Active Directory (both Microsoft and Samba).

Be aware of the following rules about account providers:

  1. Once NethServer has been bound to an account provider the FQDN cannot be changed any more.
  2. Local account providers cannot be uninstalled.
Remote providers

A clean NethServer installation is ready to connect to a remote account provider of both types (LDAP, AD). The root user can configure the remote account provider from the Accounts provider page.

After NethServer has been bound to a remote account provider the User and groups page shows the domain accounts in read-only mode.

Local providers

To run a local account provider go to Software center page and install either OpenLDAP or Samba 4 account provider from the modules list.

After installing a local provider (either Samba 4 or OpenLDAP), the administrator can create, modify and delete the users and groups.


Please choose wisely your account provider because the choice is not reversible. Also the system will forbid any change to the FQDN after the account provider has been configured.

Choosing the right account provider

Beside choosing to bind a remote provider or install a local one, the administrator has to decide which backend type suits he needs.

The File server module of NethServer, which enables the Shared folders page, can authenticate SMB/CIFS clients only if NethServer is bound to an Active Directory domain. The LDAP providers allow access to Shared folders only in guest mode. See Shared folders.

On the other hand, the local OpenLDAP provider is more easy to install and configure.

In the end, if the SMB file sharing protocol support is not required, an LDAP provider is the best choice.

OpenLDAP local provider installation

From the Software Center install the module named Account provider: OpenLDAP. At the end of the installation the package is automatically configured and the administrator will be able to manage users and groups from the User and groups page.

Samba Active Directory local provider installation

When installing Samba Active Directory as local account provider, the system needs an additional IP address and a working internet connection.

The additional IP is assigned to a Linux Container that runs the Active Directory Domain Controller roles and must be accessible from the LAN (green network).

Therefore the additional IP address must satisfy three conditions:

  1. the IP address has to be free; it must not be used by any other machine,
  2. the IP address has to be in the same subnet range of a green network,
  3. the green network has to be bound to a bridged interface where the Linux Container can attach its virtual interface to; the installation procedure can create the bridge interface automatically, if it is missing.

From the Software center page install the module named Account provider: Samba Active Directory.

After the account provider installation, the Accounts provider page shows a configuration panel. Insert the additional IP address as explained above and press the Start DC button. If needed, enable the automatic bridge interface creation for the green network.


The Active Directory configuration procedure might require some time to run. It creates the Linux Container chroot, by downloading additional packages.

At the end of the Active Directory configuration procedure, the NethServer host machine is automatically configured to join the Active Directory domain. Go to the page User and groups to see the default accounts.

After installing Samba Active Directory, the Users and groups page has two default entries; both are disabled: administrator and admin. “Administrator” is the default Active Directory privileged account and is not required by NethServer; it is safe to keep it disabled. “admin” is defined by NethServer as the default system administrative account. It is member of the AD “domain admins” group. See Admin account section for more details.

Installing on a virtual machine

Samba Active Directory runs inside a Linux Container which uses a virtual network interface bridged to the network interface of the system. The virtual network interface has to be visible inside the physical network, but often virtualization solutions block ARP traffic. As a result, the Samba Active Directory container is not visible from LAN hosts.

When installing on virtual environment, make sure the virtualization solution allows traffic in promiscuous mode.


To setup the promiscuous mode policy, select “Allow all” from the drop down list located in the network settings section.


Enter the networking configuration section of the virtualization mode and set the virtual switch in promiscuous mode.


Make sure the virtual machine is bridged to a real bridge (like br0) and the bridge is put in promiscuous mode.

It is possible to force a bridge (i.e. br0) in promiscuous mode using this command:

ifconfig br0 promisc

Configure MAC Address Spoofing for Virtual Network Adapters

Join an existing Active Directory domain

Here NethServer is bound to a remote Active Directory account provider. It can be provided by either Samba or Microsoft implementations. In this scenario NethServer becomes a trusted server of an existing Active Directory domain. When accessing a NethServer resource from a domain workstation, user credentials are checked against one of the domain controllers, and the access to the resource is granted.

Joining an Active Directory domain has the following pre-requisites:

  1. The Kerberos protocol requires the difference between systems clocks in the network is less than 5 minutes. Configure the network clients to align their clocks to a common time source. For NethServer go to Date and time page.

  2. The system assumes the default NetBIOS domain name is the leftmost label in the DNS domain suffix up to the first 15 characters.


    • FQDN:
    • Domain:
    • Default NetBIOS domain: LOCAL

    If the default NetBIOS domain is not good for your environment, you can change it from command line:

    config set smb service Workgroup <your_netbios_domain>
  3. (Only for Microsoft Active Directory) The default machine account cannot perform simple LDAP binds due to AD security policies. To be fully operational NethServer requires an additional account to perform simple LDAP binds. Create a dedicated user account in AD, and set a complex non-expiring password for it.

After all the prerequisites are fulfilled, proceed with the join from the Accounts provider page:

  • Fill DNS server IP address field which usually is the IP address of an AD domain controller.
  • (only for Microsoft Active Directory) specify the dedicated user account credentials under the Advanced settings panel.
  • Push the Submit button. You will be prompted for an user name and a password: provide AD administrator or any other account credentials with permissions to join a new machine to the domain (i.e. admin on NethServer).

Bind to a remote LDAP server

If the remote server is a NethServer, only its IP address is required in Accounts provider page.

For other implementations, change the bind credentials, Base DN and encryption settings under the Advanced settings panel.


A newly created user account remains locked until it has set a password. Disabled users are denied to access system services.

When creating a user, following fields are mandatory:

  • User name
  • Full name (name and surname)

A user can be added to one or more group from the Users page or from the Groups one.

Sometimes you need to block user’s access to services without deleting the account. This can be achieved using the Lock and Unlock actions.


When a user is deleted, all user data will be also deleted.

Changing the password

If there wasn’t given an initial password during user creation, the user account is disabled. To enable it, set a password using the Change password button.

When a user is enabled, the user can access the Server Manager and change his/her own password by going to the label on the upper right corner of the screen and clicking on Profile.

If the system is bound to an Active Directory account provider, users can change their password also using the Windows tools. In this case you can not set passwords shorter than 6 characters regardless of the server policies. Windows performs preliminary checks and sends the password to the server where it is evaluated according to the configured policies.

Credentials for services

The user’s credentials are the user name and his password. Credentials are required to access the services installed on the system.

The user name can be issued in two forms: long (default) and short. The long form is always accepted by services. It depends on the service to accept also the short form.

For instance if the domain is and the user is goofy:

Long user name form
Short user name form


A group of users can be granted some permission, such as authorize access over a shared folder. The granted permission is propagated to all group members.

Two special groups can be created. Members of these groups are granted access to the panels of the Server Manager:

  • domain admins: members of this group have the same permissions as the root user from the Server Manager.
  • managers: members of this group are granted access to the Management section of the Server Manager.

Admin account

If a local AD or LDAP provider is installed, an admin user, member of the domain admins group is created automatically. This account allows access to all configuration pages within the Server Manager. It is initially disabled and has no access from the console.


To enable the admin account set its password.

Where applicable, the admin account is granted special privileges on some specific services, such as joining a workstation to an Active Directory domain.

If NethServer is bound to a remote account provider, the admin user and domain admins group could be created manually, if they do not already exist.

If a user or group with a similar purpose is already present in the remote account provider database, but it is named differently, NethServer can be configured to rely on it with the following commands:

config setprop admins user customadmin group customadmins
/etc/e-smith/events/actions/system-adjust custom

Password management

The system provides the ability to set constraints on password complexity and expiration.

Password policies can be changed from web interface.


The password complexity is a set of minimum conditions for password to be accepted by the system: You can choose between two different management policies about password complexity:

  • none: there is no specific control over the password entered, but minimum length is 7 characters
  • strong

The strong policy requires that the password must comply with the following rules:

  • Minimum length of 7 characters
  • Contain at least 1 number
  • Contain at least 1 uppercase character
  • Contain at least 1 lowercase character
  • Contain at least 1 special character
  • At least 5 different characters
  • Must be not present in the dictionaries of common words
  • Must be different from the username
  • Can not have repetitions of patterns formed by 3 or more characters (for example the password As1.$ AS1. $ is invalid)
  • If Samba Active Directory is installed, also the system will enable password history

The default policy is strong.


Changing the default policies is highly discouraged. The use of weak passwords often lead to compromised servers by external attackers.


The password expiration is enabled by default to 6 months from the time when the password is set. The system will send an e-mail to inform the users when their password is about to expire.


The system will refer to the date of the last password change, if password is older than 6 months, the server will send an email to indicate that password has expired. In this case you need to change the user password. For example, if the last password change was made in January and the activation of the deadline in October, the system will assume the password changed in January is expired, and notify the user.

Effects of expired passwords

After password expiration, the user is still able to read and send email messages.

If NethServer has an Active Directory account provider, the user cannot access shared folders, printers (by Samba) and other domain computers.

Import users

It is possible to create user accounts from a TSV (Tab Separated Values) file with the following format:

username <TAB> fullName <TAB> password <NEWLINE>


mario <TAB> Mario Rossi <TAB> 112233 <NEWLINE>

then execute:

/usr/share/doc/nethserver-directory-<ver>/import_users <youfilename>

For example, if the user’s file is /root/users.tsv, execute following command:

/usr/share/doc/nethserver-sssd-`rpm --query --qf "%{VERSION}" nethserver-sssd`/scripts/import_users /root/users.tsv

Alternative separator character:

import_users users.tsv ','

Import Emails

It is possible to create mail aliases from a TSV (Tab Separated Values) file with the following format:

username <TAB> emailaddress <NEWLINE>

Then you can use the import_emails script. See Import users for a sample script invocation.

Import Groups

Group management is available from the command line through group-create and group-modify events

signal-event group-create group1 user1 user2 user3
signal-event group-modify group1 user1 user3 user4