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Geronimo uses the Apache Directory Server for its directory service, this is part of the Apache Directory Project. Geronimo implements the following two projects from the ApacheDS project.

  • ApacheDS Core
    Server's core contains all backend subsystems. It depends on protocol and uses it with seda to service LDAP requests. The core contains the JNDI provider, interceptor framework, interceptor services, the schema subsystem and the database subsystem. Hence the core is the heart of the server.
  • ApacheDS Shared
    Created to eliminate cyclic project dependencies between the core and the maven plug-in. Any code shared across modules in general can go here so long as it does not depend on other modules.

More information about these two projects can be found at the ApacheDS project URL:

At this point in time, Geronimo only provides LDAP viewing capabilities, editing is not there yet but adding this feature is in plan for the next releases of Geronimo. You will have to use an external LDAP client such as ldapbrowser/editor, jxplorer or gq for editing the configurations of the Directory Server in Geronimo.

This article is organized in the following sections:


Starting the LDAP server

In this release of Geronimo, the Apache Directory v0.92 is already included with the distribution although it is not started by default. You can either start the server from command line using the deployer tool or via the Geronimo Administration Console.

Using the Administration Console click on System Modules on the navigation menu from the left and look for the component name org.apache.geronimo.configs/directory in the Installed System Modules portlet. You will see the current status and available commands for this particular component.

As we already mentioned, this component is stopped by default, click on Start to make this service available.

Alternatively, if you are building you own custom version of Geronimo you can install Apache Directory later on via Geronimo plugins.

LDAP sample application

For your convenience we have provided the sample application and deployment plans packaged into a zip file.
Download the sample application from the following URL:


After extracting the zip file a ldap-sample-app directory is created, from now on this directory will be referred as <ldap_home>.

At this point it is assumed that you have installed an LDAP client and you are capable of exporting/importing an .ldif file to a directory server.

Source Code

You can checkout the source code of this sample from SVN:

svn checkout

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Add LDAP entries

Ensure that Geronimo is up and running and the Directory service is started. Start your LDAP client and create a new connection profile with the following values:





Base DN:


User DN:




Once you connect to the Geronimo Directory server you will see the initial configuration, this configuration can be exported as a backup in a ldif file. Depending the LDAP client you are using the export/import steps will be different. For example, to export the initial configuration using the ldapsearch tool execute the following command:

ldapsearch -h localhost -p 10389 -b "ou=system" -D "uid=admin,ou=system" -w secret -x "(objectclass=*)"

When you export the initial configuration you get an ldif file with a content similar as the one shown in the following example.


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Now you need to import the entries needed to run the sample application. Packaged with the sample application is a sample .ldif file with all the entries necessary to run the LDAP sample application, this file is located in <ldap_home>/ldap-sample.ldif. To import the data with ldapmodify tool execute the following command:

ldapmodify -h localhost -p 10389 -D "uid=admin,ou=system" -w secret -x -a -f <ldap_home>/ldap-sample.ldif

The following example shows the content of the ldap-sample.ldif file.


Once the file is imported you should get a confirmation that five entries were successfully imported.

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Deploy the LDAP realm

The LDAP sample application provides a security realm that needs to be deployed before the deployment of the application itself. This realm is located in <ldap_home>/ldap-realm.xml and the content is illustrated in the following example.

xmlsolidldap-realm.xml console.realm LDAP_Sample_Realm 1.0 car org.apache.geronimo.configs j2ee-security car LDAP_Sample_Realm ServerInfo LDAP_Sample_Realm com.sun.jndi.ldap.LdapCtxFactory ldap://localhost:10389 uid=admin,ou=system secret simple ou=users,ou=system uid={0} false ou=groups,ou=system cn (uniqueMember={0}) false LDAP_Sample_Realm-Audit var/log/login-attempts.log ]]>

This deployment plan tell Geronimo all the connection and search paraments against the LDAP database. This plan also specifies to record each login attempt into the login-attempts.log log file.

To deploy the ldap-realm.xml run the following command from the <geronimo_home>/bin directory:

java -jar deployer.jar --user system --password manager deploy <ldap_home>/ldap-realm.xml

Once deployed you should see a confirmation message similar to the following example:
#000000soliddeploy deploy \samples\2.0\ldap-sample-app\ldap-realm.xml Using GERONIMO_BASE: D:\geronimo-tomcat6-jee5-2.0 Using GERONIMO_HOME: D:\geronimo-tomcat6-jee5-2.0 Using GERONIMO_TMPDIR: D:\geronimo-tomcat6-jee5-2.0\var\temp Using JRE_HOME: C:\Java\jdk1.5.0_06\\jre Deployed console.realm/LDAP_Sample_Realm/1.0/car ]]>
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For further details refer to the LDAP Realm section.

Deployment plans

The deployment plans are located in the <ldap_home>/WEB-INF directory. Clearly, geronimo-web.xml is the Geronimo specific deployment plan. It provides the details on what security realm to use and user role mappings as well as the Geronimo specific namespace used to identify the elements in the security configuration. Common to other types of applications, not just security, the deployment plan also provides the main namespace for the deployment plan, a module identification (optional), a parent module configuration ID (also optional) and a context root. The following example illustrates the Geronimo specific deployment plan.

xmlsolidgeronimo-web.xml samples LDAP_Sample 1.2 /LDAP_Sample LDAP_Sample_Realm ]]>

The first part of the deployment plan is straight forward. However, the security configuration is tricky. The <security-realm-name> is described in the <security> element through a sequence of declarations in the <realms> element.

While the web.xml specifies the security roles, the geronimo-web.xml maps to which specific users or groups in the Geronimo security realms they belong to. If there is a user that is not logged in, it defaults to what is defined in the <default-principal> element.

There are two roles that are issued in this project: content-administrator and guest. And they each hold two principals: a GeronimoGroupPrincipal and a GeronimoUserPrincipal. Since the 'designated-run-as' flag is turned on for some principals, they will be the ones used if the deployable has a run-as role set in the web.xml.

Note that these role mappings will be overridden by the actual roles (what users pertaining to what groups) defined in the LDAP server. Ultimately it is the realm defined in the application deployment plan who determines the validation method. Nevertheless, for this particular example, you still need to define principals and role mappings as determined in the XML schemas

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The web.xml deployment descriptor shown in the following example (also located in the <ldap_home>/WEB-INF diretory) adds security constraints based on the location of the files.

xmlsolidweb.xml index.html Admin Role /protect/* content-administrator No Access /forbidden/* FORM ldap-realm-1 /auth/logon.html?param=test /auth/logonError.html?param=test content-administrator ]]>

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Package the sample application

Now that all the elements have been identified, it is necessary to package the sample application in a Web application Archive (.war). Open a command line window, change directory to <ldap_home> and run the following command:

jar -cvf ldap-demo.war *

This command will package all the existing files and directories inside <ldap_home>. Although not needed inside the .war file, the ldap-realm.xml and ldap-sample.ldif files will also be included.

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Deploy and test the application

To deploy the LDAP sample application make sure the Geronimo server is up and running. Open a command line window, change directory to <geronimo_home>/bin and run the following command:

java -jar deployer.jar --user system --password manager deploy <ldap_home>/ldap-demo.war

Once the Web application is successfully deployed you should see a confirmation message similar as the one shown in the following example:

#000000soliddeploy deploy \samples\2.0\ldap-sample-app\ldap-demo.war Using GERONIMO_BASE: D:\geronimo-tomcat6-jee5-2.0 Using GERONIMO_HOME: D:\geronimo-tomcat6-jee5-2.0 Using GERONIMO_TMPDIR: D:\geronimo-tomcat6-jee5-2.0\var\temp Using JRE_HOME: C:\Java\jdk1.5.0_06\\jre Deployed samples/LDAP_Sample/1.2/war @ http://localhost:8080/LDAP_Sample ]]>

To test the LDAP application open a Web browser and access the following URL:


The following figure shows the welcome page for the LDAP sample application.

Click on Protect to validate against the LDAP Directory Server.

Enter system as the username and manager as the password and click Login. The username and password you provide here is the same you use to access the Geronimo Web console and it is stored in the Directory Server database. Once you are logged in you should see the following screen.

At this point you have an application that is validating username and passwords against an LDAP Directory Server database based on the security configuration you provided earlier in the LDAP realm. Now, if you go back to the welcome page and click on Forbidden you should receive a 403 - Forbidden HTTP error similar to the one shown in the following figure.

Depending on the web container you are using (that is Jetty or Tomcat) the presentation of that screen may be slightly different.

To further test this example you could now try the different users provided in the ldap-sample.ldif, use your LDAP client and add/remove users from the different groups. You will notice the changes immediatly (you may need to close your web browser).

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