LDAP -Time to Leave Home, Young Man

by Tom Adelstein

If you have followed my articles on LDAP, you know we began looking at objectClasses in the last installment back in March. Since that time, I haven't written much more about directory servers. I began contemplating whether or not to continue the LDAP series because things have changed. Let me explain:

When I began this series in September 2006, I wanted to convey the approach I used in Linux System Administration (LSA). As O'Reilly, our book publisher, stated:

The ingredients for this book had been scattered throughout mailing lists, forums, and discussion groups, as well as books, periodicals, and the experiences of colleagues.

In September, LDAP documentation, though some what scattered and in need of a fix, existed more than the other topics in LSA. As the lead author, I wanted LDAP included in our book. My editor thought differently.

The book addressed experienced system administrators of any operating system and seasoned Linux power users needing complete documentation to advance to sysadmins.

LDAP did not seem like a subject for the faint of heart. I felt like traditional authors and LDAP team members refused to address beginners. The series, we began last September, addressed beginners. It filled the hole I saw in the existing documentation out there.

As one of the authors of the Book of Postfix suggested, one needed a deep understanding of LDAP to build a company mail server. I wondered why. Then I remembered how I struggled with the subject myself as I began working with directories. Beginners need help. They need a decent introduction or their eyes glaze over and they conclude that LDAP isn't for them.

After consider thought about the subject of LDAP today, I believe you can pick up Gerald Carter's book, LDAP Administration and it can take you the rest of the way. Aside from that, the Fedora Directory Server documentation project now does a first class job of getting you over the LDAP hump.

Have you worked in an environment where directory services exist? Then you, more like than not, understand how LDAP makes the IT world a better place. I have worked with infrastructures where Novell's e-Directory and Identity Management System, OpenLDAP, and Active Directory existed. Currently, my employer uses Active Directory.

I do not think LDAP is an intuitive technology. You need to focus and read repetitively to grasp the subject matter. If you want to become proficient, then lower your time expectations.

I have gone from working as a system administrator to working as a full-time technical writer and system analyst. I no longer build web sites, commerce enable them, build complex networks or lead development projects. I document development processes, watch the customer service department, test products,write Sarbox documents and user manuals. It's a complete change from my previous life.

Still, I continue to study the writing craft. I read "The Elements of Style" repetitively. I have not memorized it, but I may have accomplished that in the near future. Why would I do that?

Regardless of one's discipline, he or she needs to keep after it from a theoretical through practical application. With LDAP, if you want to master it, then read about it, practice it and put it to work for you even in a home network. You'll find ways to deploy it.

I doubt that you will see much about LDAP from me in the future. I might gig you every once in a while to remind you to keep your eye on the ball, but it's time to set out on your own.

Respectively submitted