mod_shared_roster_ldap 0.5.3
Shared Roster LDAP Documentation


Chapter 1  Introduction

ejabberd is a free and open source instant messaging server written in Erlang/OTP.

mod_shared_roster_ldap is a module for ejabberd which lets the server administrator automatically populate users’ rosters (contact lists) with entries based on users and groups defined in an LDAP-based directory.

1.1  History

The module was initially written in 2005 by Alexey Shchepin (

It was subsequently changed by Realloc ( to make it Active Directory friendly and more usable. This developer has produced a russian-language web page about AD integration.

The module has spent some time posted on its contribution page where it has received fixes and minor improvements, however it was not actively developed nor properly maintained.

The most often requested part that was missing was comprehensive documentation. This document attempts to provide it. It was written by incorporating my own interpretation of the code and various descriptions contributed by other people on the ejabberd forums, e.g.:

This documentation attempts to be comprehensive and correct. However since it was written by analyzing the code, it may not follow the code author’s exact intentions. Corrections and suggestions are welcome.

This document, and mod_shared_roster_ldap code is maintained at the ejabberd-msrl project page on Alioth. The goal of the project is to provide a place for proper maintenance (with bug tracker, revision control, etc), where the state of this module documentation, featureset and performance can be improved.

1.2  How does mod_shared_roster_ldap work

The module does its job by a set of hooks, which it registers in the server on startup. Those hooks intercept the information flowing between a user and ejabberd and amend it with data retrieved from LDAP in such way as to provide the user with a permanent set of (additional) “virtual” entries in her roster.

“Virtual” in this context means that the module does not modify the rosters stored by the mod_roster module. Instead it “overlays” some additional entries on top of the ones maintained by the user herself, every time the user’s client retrieves the roster when connecting to ejabberd. This also means that the user cannot remove a mod_shared_roster_ldap entry from their roster permanently — it will be included in the roster on next reconnection.

1.3  Shameless plug

The LDAP graph pictures in section 3.4 were created with ldif2dot.

Chapter 2  Installing mod_shared_roster_ldap

2.1  Installing with ejabberd from source

If you are installing ejabberd from source, then simply copying the mod_shared_roster_ldap.erl, mod_shared_roster_ldap.hrl and mod_shared_roster_ldap_helpers.erl files into the src/ directory before running make will cause the modules to be compiled and installed with the rest of ejabberd.

2.2  Installing with an ejabberd binary package

If ejabberd has been installed from a binary package (or using the binary installer), you will need to build and install the module by yourself. Here are some instructions:

  1. you need an Erlang runtime and compiler installation, they probably come together — check whether you have the erl and erlc commands. You should probably use the same (or close enough) erlang compiler version as the one which was used to compile your binary ejabberd installation.
  2. you also need an unpacked source package of ejabberd (strictly speaking only the *.hrl headers are needed) for the same version as you binary ejabberd installation,1
  3. copy the files mod_shared_roster_ldap_helpers.erl, mod_shared_roster_ldap.hrl and mod_shared_roster_ldap.erl, into the src/ subdirectory of ejabberd source tree
  4. compile the modules by running the following in a terminal:2
     erlc mod_shared_roster_ldap.erl
     erlc mod_shared_roster_ldap_helpers.erl
  5. copy the resulting mod_shared_roster_ldap.beam and mod_shared_roster_ldap_helpers.beam to the ejabberd ebin directory3
  6. restart ejabberd to let it load the module,

If you run a Debian-based system, you should be able to get that easily with just apt-get install dpkg-dev ; apt-get source ejabberd
You need to have the compiler command erlc in your execution PATH variable, or specify the full path to erlc. In Windows it will be something like "c:\Program Files\Erl5.6.5\bin\erlc.exe"
this will be something like /usr/lib/ejabberd/ebin or lib/ejabberd-your-version/ebin/ depending on your system.

Chapter 3  Configuring mod_shared_roster_ldap

3.1  Configuration parameters

The module accepts the following configuration parameters. Some of them, if unspecified for mod_shared_roster_ldap, default to the values specified for the top level of configuration. This lets you avoid specifying, for example, the bind password, in multiple places.

3.1.1  Filters

These parameters specify LDAP filters used to query for shared roster information. All of them are run against the ldap_base.

So called “Roster Filter”. Used to find names of all “shared roster” groups. See also the ldap_groupattr parameter. If unspecified, defaults to the top-level parameter of the same name. You have to specify it in some place in the configuration, there is no default.
“User Filter” – used for retrieving the human-readable name of roster entries (usually full names of people in the roster). See also the parameters ldap_userdesc and ldap_useruid. If unspecified, defaults to the top-level parameter of the same name. If that one also is unspecified, then the filter is assembled from values of other parameters as follows ([ldap_SOMETHING] is used to mean “the value of the configuration parameter ldap_SOMETHING”):

Subsequently %u and %g are replaced with a *. This means that given the defaults, the filter sent to the LDAP server is would be (&(memberUid=*)(cn=*)). If however the ldap_memberattr_format is something like uid=%u,ou=People,o=org, then the filter will be (&(memberUid=uid=*,ou=People,o=org)(cn=*)).

“Group Filter” – used when retrieving human-readable name (a.k.a. “Display Name”) and the members of a group. See also the parameters ldap_groupattr, ldap_groupdesc and ldap_memberattr. If unspecified, defaults to the top-level parameter of the same name. If that one also is unspecified, then the filter is constructed exactly in the same way as User Filter.
Additional filter which is AND-ed together with User Filter and Group Filter. If unspecified, defaults to the top-level parameter of the same name. If that one is also unspecified, then no additional filter is merged with the other filters.

Note that you will probably need to manually define the User and Group Filters (since the auto-assembled ones will not work) if:

An example where it is the case is OpenLDAP and (unique)MemberName attribute from the groupOf(Unique)Names objectClass. A symptom of this problem is that you will see messages such as the following in your slapd.log:

get_filter: unknown filter type=130

3.1.2  Attributes

These parameters specify the names of the attributes which hold interesting data in the entries returned by running filters specified in section 3.1.1.

The name of the attribute that holds the group name, and that is used to differentiate between them. Retrieved from results of the “Roster Filter” and “Group Filter”. Defaults to cn.
The name of the attribute which holds the human-readable group name in the objects you use to represent groups. Retrieved from results of the “Group Filter”. Defaults to whatever ldap_groupattr is set.
The name of the attribute which holds the IDs of the members of a group. Retrieved from results of the “Group Filter”. Defaults to memberUid.

The name of the attribute differs depending on the objectClass you use for your group objects, for example:

The name of the attribute which holds the human-readable user name. Retrieved from results of the “User Filter”. Defaults to cn.
The name of the attribute which holds the ID of a roster item. Value of this attribute in the roster item objects needs to match the ID retrieved from the ldap_memberattr attribute of a group object. Retrieved from results of the “User Filter”. Defaults to cn.

3.1.3  Control parameters

These paramters control the behaviour of the module.

A globbing format for extracting user ID from the value of the attribute named by ldap_memberattr. Defaults to %u, which means that the whole value is the member ID. If you change it to something different, you may also need to specify the User and Group Filters manually — see section 3.1.1.
A regex for extracting user ID from the value of the attribute named by ldap_memberattr.

An example value "CN=(\\w*),(OU=.*,)*DC=company,DC=com" works for user IDs such as the following:

In case:

then instead of a regular expression, a simple format specified by ldap_memberattr_format is used. Also, in the last two cases an error message is logged during the module initialization.

Also, note that in all cases ldap_memberattr_format (and not the regex version) is used for constructing the default “User/Group Filter” — see section 3.1.1.

Whether the module should check (via the ejabberd authentication subsystem) for existence of each user in the shared LDAP roster. See section 3.3 form more information. Set to off if you want to disable the check. Defaults to on.
Number of seconds for which the cache for roster item full names is considered fresh after retrieval. 300 by default. See section 3.3 on how it is used during roster retrieval.
Number of seconds for which the cache for group membership is considered fresh after retrieval. 300 by default. See section 3.3 on how it is used during roster retrieval.

3.1.4  Connection parameters

The module also accepts the following parameters, all of which default to the top-level parameter of the same name, if unspecified. See the ejabberd User Guide chapter 3.2.5 LDAP Configuration for more information about them.

List of LDAP server hostnames to connect to.
Port to use for LDAP connections. The default is determined based on the TLS settings.
Search base DN — the module will look for entries under this element.
The “bind DN” to use.
The bind password.
The encryption protocol to use.
The encryption protocol to use.

3.2  Module startup

When the module is loaded, ejabberd spawns a separate module instance for each hosted domain. Each instance performs the following actions on startup:

  1. reads and parses the configuration options,
  2. prepares the default filter strings which will be used during its operation, unless they were specified explicitly in the configuration (see section 3.1.1).
  3. registers callbacks with some ejabberd hooks, that will cause it to be invoked at various points in roster lifecycle,
  4. spawns a persistent connection to the LDAP server,
  5. starts listening for requests — see the following sections for information on how it serves them

3.3  Retrieving the roster

When the module is called to retrieve the shared roster for a user, the following algorithm is used:

  1. A list of names of groups to display is created: the Roster Filter is run against the base DN, retrieving the values of the attribute named by ldap_groupattr.
  2. Unless the group cache is fresh (see the ldap_group_cache_validity option), it is refreshed:
    1. Information for all groups is retrieved using a single query: the Group Filter is run against the Base DN, retrieving the values of attributes named by ldap_groupattr (group ID), ldap_groupdesc (group “Display Name”) and ldap_memberattr (IDs of group members).
    2. group “Display Name”, read from the attribute named by ldap_groupdesc, is stored in the cache for the given group
    3. the following processing takes place for each retrieved value of attribute named by ldap_memberattr:
      1. the user ID part of it is extracted using ldap_memberattr_format(_re),
      2. then (unless ldap_auth_check is set to off) for each found user ID, the module checks (using the ejabberd authentication subsystem) whether such user exists in the given virtual host. It is skipped if the check is enabled and fails.

        This step is here for historical reasons. If you have a tidy DIT and properly defined “Roster Filter” and “Group Filter”, it is safe to disable it by setting ldap_auth_check to off — it will speed up the roster retrieval.

      3. the user ID is stored in the list of members in the cache for the given group
  3. For each item (group name) in the list of groups retrieved in step 1:
    1. the display name of a shared roster group is retrieved from the group cache
    2. for each IDs of users which belong to the group, retrieved from the group cache:
      1. the ID is skipped if it’s the same as the one for which we are retrieving the roster. This is so that the user does not have himself in the roster.
      2. the display name of a shared roster user is retrieved:
        1. first, unless the user name cache is fresh (see the ldap_user_cache_validity option), it is refreshed by running the User Filter, against the Base DN, retrieving the values of attributes named by ldap_useruid and ldap_userdesc.
        2. then, the display name for the given user ID is retrieved from the user name cache.

3.4  Configuration examples

Since there are many possible DIT layouts, it will probably be easiest to understand how to configure the module by looking at an example for a given DIT (or one resembling it).

3.4.1  Flat DIT

This seems to be the kind of DIT for which this module was initially designed. Basically there are just user objects, and group membership is stored in an attribute individually for each user. For example in a layout shown in figure 3.1, the group of each user is stored in its ou attribute.

Figure 3.1: Flat DIT graph

Such layout has a few downsides, including:

This however seems to be a common DIT layout, so the module keeps supporting it. You can use the following configuration…

    {ldap_base, "ou=flat,dc=nodomain"},
    {ldap_rfilter, "(objectClass=inetOrgPerson)"},
    {ldap_groupattr, "ou"},
    {ldap_memberattr, "cn"},
    {ldap_filter,  "(objectClass=inetOrgPerson)"},
    {ldap_userdesc, "displayName"}

…to be provided with a roster as shown in figure 3.2 upon connecting as user czesio.

Figure 3.2: Roster from flat DIT

3.4.2  Deep DIT

This type of DIT contains distinctly typed objects for users and groups – see figure 3.3. They are shown separated into different subtrees, but it’s not a requirement.

Figure 3.3: Example “deep” DIT graph

If you use the following example module configuration with it:

    {ldap_base, "ou=deep,dc=nodomain"},
    {ldap_rfilter, "(objectClass=groupOfUniqueNames)"},
    {ldap_filter, ""},
    {ldap_gfilter, "(&(objectClass=groupOfUniqueNames)(cn=%g))"},
    {ldap_groupdesc, "description"},
    {ldap_memberattr, "uniqueMember"},
    {ldap_memberattr_format, "cn=%u,ou=people,ou=deep,dc=nodomain"},
    {ldap_ufilter, "(&(objectClass=inetOrgPerson)(cn=%u))"},
    {ldap_userdesc, "displayName"}

…and connect as user czesio, then ejabberd will provide you with the roster shown in figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4: Example roster from “deep” DIT

Appendix A  Release Notes

Here are the release notes for each release, in reverse-chronological order. If you are upgrading from an older version, follow the “Upgrade instructions” for each version after the one you are upgrading from.

— Changes:
— Changes:
— Changes:
— Upgrade instructions: — Changes: — Credits:
— Upgrade instructions: — Changes: — Credits:
— Documentation-only changes:
— Changes:
— Changes:
— Initial release:


Appendix B  Copyright Information

mod_shared_roster_ldap documentation.
Copyright © 2009-2010 Marcin Owsiany

This document is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This document is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this document; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.

This document was translated from LATEX by HEVEA.