Authenticate Using SASL and LDAP with OpenLDAP

MongoDB Enterprise provides support for proxy authentication of users. This allows administrators to configure a MongoDB cluster to authenticate users by proxying authentication requests to a specified Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) service.


MongoDB Enterprise for Windows does not include LDAP support for authentication. However, MongoDB Enterprise for Linux supports using LDAP authentication with an ActiveDirectory server.

MongoDB does not support LDAP authentication in mixed sharded cluster deployments that contain both version 2.4 and version 2.6 shards. See Upgrade MongoDB to 2.6 for upgrade instructions.

Use secure encrypted or trusted connections between clients and the server, as well as between saslauthd and the LDAP server. The LDAP server uses the SASL PLAIN mechanism, sending and receiving data in plain text. You should use only a trusted channel such as a VPN, a connection encrypted with SSL, or a trusted wired network.

Configure saslauthd

LDAP support for user authentication requires proper configuration of the saslauthd daemon process as well as the MongoDB server.


Specify the mechanism.

On systems that configure saslauthd with the /etc/sysconfig/saslauthd file, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, CentOS, and Amazon Linux AMI, set the mechanism MECH to ldap:


On systems that configure saslauthd with the /etc/default/saslauthd file, such as Ubuntu, set the MECHANISMS option to ldap:


Adjust caching behavior.

On certain Linux distributions, saslauthd starts with the caching of authentication credentials enabled. Until restarted or until the cache expires, saslauthd will not contact the LDAP server to re-authenticate users in its authentication cache. This allows saslauthd to successfully authenticate users in its cache, even in the LDAP server is down or if the cached users’ credentials are revoked.

To set the expiration time (in seconds) for the authentication cache, see the -t option of saslauthd.


Configure LDAP Options with OpenLDAP.

If the saslauthd.conf file does not exist, create it. The saslauthd.conf file usually resides in the /etc folder. If specifying a different file path, see the -O option of saslauthd.

To connect to an OpenLDAP server, update the saslauthd.conf file with the following configuration options:

ldap_servers: <ldap uri>
ldap_search_base: <search base>
ldap_filter: <filter>

The ldap_servers specifies the uri of the LDAP server used for authentication. In general, for OpenLDAP installed on the local machine, you can specify the value ldap://localhost:389 or if using LDAP over SSL, you can specify the value ldaps://localhost:636.

The ldap_search_base specifies distinguished name to which the search is relative. The search includes the base or objects below.

The ldap_filter specifies the search filter.

The values for these configuration options should correspond to the values specific for your test. For example, to filter on email, specify ldap_filter: (mail=%n) instead.

OpenLDAP Example

A sample saslauthd.conf file for OpenLDAP includes the following content:

ldap_servers: ldaps://ad.example.net
ldap_search_base: ou=Users,dc=example,dc=com
ldap_filter: (uid=%u)

To use this sample OpenLDAP configuration, create users with a uid attribute (login name) and place under the Users organizational unit (ou) under the domain components (dc) example and com.

For more information on saslauthd configuration, see http://www.openldap.org/doc/admin24/guide.html#Configuringsaslauthd.


Test the saslauthd configuration.

Use testsaslauthd utility to test the saslauthd configuration. For example:

testsaslauthd -u testuser -p testpassword -f /var/run/saslauthd/mux

Configure MongoDB


Add user to MongoDB for authentication.

Add the user to the $external database in MongoDB. To specify the user’s privileges, assign roles to the user.

For example, the following adds a user with read-only access to the records database.

      user : <username>,
      roles: [ { role: "read", db: "records" } ]

Add additional principals as needed. For more information about creating and managing users, see User Management Commands.


Configure MongoDB server.

To configure the MongoDB server to use the saslauthd instance for proxy authentication, start the mongod with the following options:

Configure the MongoDB server using either the command line option –setParameter or the configuration file. Specify additional configurations as appropriate for your configuration.

If you use the authorization option to enforce authentication, you will need privileges to create a user.

Use specific saslauthd socket path.

For socket path of /<some>/<path>/saslauthd, set the saslauthdPath to /<some>/<path>/saslauthd/mux, as in the following command line example:

mongod --auth --setParameter saslauthdPath=/<some>/<path>/saslauthd/mux --setParameter authenticationMechanisms=PLAIN

Or if using a configuration file, specify the following parameters in the file:


Use default Unix-domain socket path.

To use the default Unix-domain socket path, set the saslauthdPath to the empty string "", as in the following command line example:

mongod --auth --setParameter saslauthdPath="" --setParameter authenticationMechanisms=PLAIN

Or if using a configuration file, specify the following parameters in the file:


Authenticate the user in the mongo shell.

To perform the authentication in the mongo shell, use the db.auth() method in the $external database.

Specify the value "PLAIN" in the mechanism field, the user and password in the user and pwd fields respectively, and the value false in the digestPassword field. You must specify false for digestPassword since the server must receive an undigested password to forward on to saslauthd, as in the following example:

     mechanism: "PLAIN",
     user: <username>,
     pwd:  <cleartext password>,
     digestPassword: false

The server forwards the password in plain text. In general, use only on a trusted channel (VPN, SSL, trusted wired network). See Considerations.