Liferay Portal LDAP Authentication with Penrose Server

We explained in a previous post “Identity Management (IdM) in Portal, ECM and BPM Projects” how important is having a Corporate Directory (LDAP server) that serves as a repository for different types of identities and roles that will require for our business application in authentication and authorization processes.

Fig 0. Penrose Server, a Java free open source Virtual Directory

We also explained the importance of using a Virtual Directory as a natural evolution of the classic Directory and Meta Directory. We also highlight its functionality, scalability and ability to integrate different sources of identity information regardless of the type of source, may be other LDAP servers, Database servers, even Webservices.

Well, in this post will explain how to deploy and configure Penrose Server (Virtual Directory free / open source) to store user identity information from a MySQL table so we can use them as users of Liferay Portal without having to program or modify any adapter or hook Liferay.

Penrose Server has, by default, OpenDS as backend, then any LDAP objectClass that exists in OpenDS exists in Penrose Server.

Said that, come on with installation.

1. Pre-requisites

1. Download Java Development Kit (>=1.5):

for example ./jdk-1_5_0_17-linux-amd64.bin

2. CentOS already has OpenJDK. You can verify it:

[root@directorysrv1 /]# java -version
java version "1.6.0"
OpenJDK  Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0-b09)
OpenJDK Client VM (build 1.6.0-b09, mixed mode)

2. Installing Penrose Server (Virtual Directory)

A virtual directory maps information from disparate data sources, such as LDAP services and Database, into a single location for users to access.

1. Download the RPM from here

2. Install the package(s):

[root@directorysrv1 tempo]# rpm -i vd-server-2.0-1.i386.rpm
VD Server 2.0 has been installed in /opt/vd-server-2.0.

3. Make sure that JAVA is configured:

Edit /opt/vd-server-2.0/vd.conf file.

[root@directorysrv1 /]# vim /opt/vd-server-2.0/etc/vd.conf

Add the JAVA_HOME variable, pointing to your JDK. For example, in CentOS is:


After editing the vd.conf file, copy it into the host’s /etc directory.

[root@directorysrv1 /]# cp /opt/vd-server-2.0/etc/vd.conf /etc

4. Run a configuration script to reset the server hostname, give the admin username and password, and set the port numbers and other information for the associated LDAP and JMX services of the Virtual Directory.

For example:

[root@directorysrv1 /]# cd /opt/vd-server-2.0/bin/
[root@directorysrv1 bin]# ./
Configuring VD Server:

Hostname []:
Root DN [uid=admin,ou=system]:
Root Password [*****]:
User account [root]:
Group account [root]: 

Configuring JMX Service:

RMI Port [1099]:
RMI Transport Port [40888]: 

Configuring OpenDS Service:

LDAP Enabled [true]:
LDAP Port [10389]:
Secure LDAP Enabled [false]:
Secure LDAP Port [10636]:
SSL Certificate Name [server-cert]:
Key Store Type (JKS/PKCS12) [JKS]:
Key Store File [config/keystore]:
Key Store PIN File [config/]: 

[root@directorysrv1 bin]#

3. Installing additional libraries

You can install on Virtual Directory Server libraries (jar files) to extend functionalities. These libraries cover a range of different functions, including JDBC drivers, custom adapters, custom modules, and other third party libraries.

1. Copy the JAR files into the /opt/vd-server-2.0/lib/ext/ directory; for example:

[root@directorysrv1 /]# cp /export/myjdbc.jar /opt/vd-server-2.0/lib/ext/myjdbc.jar

2. Is necessary restart the Virtual Directory Server.

4. Uninstalling Penrose Server

The Virtual Directory Server packages can be uninstalled using package management tools, the same as used to install it.

To remove the Server, use the -e option with rpm:

[root@directorysrv1 bin]# rpm -ev vd-server-2.0-1.i386.rpm

5. Starting Penrose Server

1. Virtual Directory is started by running a shell script /opt/vd-server-2.0/bin/ For example:

[root@directorysrv1 /]# cd /opt/vd-server-2.0/bin
[root@directorysrv1 bin]# ./
[12/02/2010 01:40:11.693] VD Server is ready.

2. To stop the server, simply close the script.

6. Starting Penrose Server as a linux service

The Virtual Directory can be stopped, started, and restarted using system tools on CentOS. Init scripts are included with the configuration files with Virtual Directory Server.

1. Log into the Virtual Directory Server host machine as root user.

2. Open the Virtual Directory init script directory.

[root@directorysrv1 /]# cd /opt/vd-server-2.0/etc/init.d

3. Edit the /opt/vd-server-2.0/etc/init.d/vd-server script so that the Virtual Directory Server home and script locations are correct. For example:


4. Copy the init file to the /etc/init.d/ directory.

[root@directorysrv1 /]# cp /opt/vd-server-2.0/etc/init.d/vd-server /etc/init.d/

5. Make the init script executable.

[root@directorysrv1 /]# chmod +x /etc/init.d/vd-server

6. Test the new Virtual Directory service.

[root@directorysrv1 /]# service vd-server start
Starting vd-server:                                        [  OK  ]
[root@directorysrv1 init.d]# [12/03/2010 10:24:31.782] VD Server is ready.
[root@directorysrv1 init.d]#

After setting Virtual Directory Server up as a service, it can be managed using the service on CentOS:

[root@directorysrv1 /]# service vd-server {start|stop|restart}

7. Connect to Penrose Server LDAP interface

It is necessary download and install any LDAP client, for example, Apache Directory Studio.

1. Execute any LDAP client, for example Apache Directory Studio.

2. Add new LDAP connection with these values:

  • hostname or ip : directorysrv1 (or
  • port : 10389
  • user credentials: uid=admin,ou=system
  • password: secret

3. Now you can browse on existing LDAP entries or to create a new partition (LDAP tree).

Fig. 1. Apache Directory Studio - Add LDAP connection

Fig. 1. Apache Directory Studio - Add LDAP connection

Fig. 2. Apache Directory Studio - Add LDAP conn, authentication

Fig. 2. Apache Directory Studio - Add LDAP conn, authentication

Fig. 3. Apache Directory Studio - Explore LDAP tree

8. Create a new virtual LDAP tree binding MySQL Server

1. Install MySQL Server, in my case I will install MySQL Server in the same CentOS host where Virtual Directory has already installed. It is just for testing purposes.

[root@directorysrv1 /]# yum --disablerepo=\* --enablerepo=c5-media -y install mysql-server
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror
Running Transaction
  Installing     : perl-DBD-MySQL                       1/2
  Installing     : mysql-server                         2/2 

  mysql-server.i386 0:5.0.77-4.el5_4.2                                                                                        

Dependency Installed:
  perl-DBD-MySQL.i386 0:3.0007-2.el5                                                                                          

[root@directorysrv1 /]#

2. Start MySQL Server as service.

[root@directorysrv1 init.d]# service mysqld start
Initializing MySQL database:  Installing MySQL system tables...
                                                           [  OK  ]
Starting MySQL:                                            [  OK  ]
[root@directorysrv1 init.d]#

3. Update root password in MySQL Server:

[root@directorysrv1 /]# mysqladmin -u root password "demodemo"

4. Enable remote access to MySQL for root user on all database and tables. Remote access is necessary when you want to connect to your MySQL from a different computer.

[root@directorysrv1 /]# mysql -u root -p
Enter password:
Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 5
Server version: 5.0.77 Source distribution

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the buffer.

mysql> GRANT ALL ON *.* TO root@'%' IDENTIFIED BY 'demodemo';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> quit;

5. Create a new Database and tables that will store identities (user credentials).

These user credentials stored in tables will be accessible as a LDAP tree by the Virtual Directory Server.

This new LDAP tree can be used to configure the login and authentication process required for different applications/products such as Liferay, Alfresco, Intalio, etc..

In this example we will explain how to do it for Liferay Portal.

We will use an existing MySQL Database (Employee DB) for testing purposes. Download existing DB from here (, then install it in our current MySQL server:

-- unzip DB

[root@directorysrv1 temp]# tar -xjf /temp/employees_db-full-1.0.4.tar.bz2
[root@directorysrv1 temp]# cd /temp/employees_db/

-- create schema and load data

[root@directorysrv1 temp]#  mysql -u root -p -t < employees.sql

-- test integrity of loaded data with SHA1

[root@directorysrv1 employees_db]# time mysql -u root -p -t < test_employees_sha.sql
Enter password:
| INFO                 |
| table_name   | expected_records | expected_crc                             |
| employees    |           300024 | 4d4aa689914d8fd41db7e45c2168e7dcb9697359 |
| departments  |                9 | 4b315afa0e35ca6649df897b958345bcb3d2b764 |
| dept_manager |               24 | 9687a7d6f93ca8847388a42a6d8d93982a841c6c |
| dept_emp     |           331603 | d95ab9fe07df0865f592574b3b33b9c741d9fd1b |
| titles       |           443308 | d12d5f746b88f07e69b9e36675b6067abb01b60e |
| salaries     |          2844047 | b5a1785c27d75e33a4173aaa22ccf41ebd7d4a9f |
| table_name   | found_records    | found_crc                                |
| employees    |           300024 | 4d4aa689914d8fd41db7e45c2168e7dcb9697359 |
| departments  |                9 | 4b315afa0e35ca6649df897b958345bcb3d2b764 |
| dept_manager |               24 | 9687a7d6f93ca8847388a42a6d8d93982a841c6c |
| dept_emp     |           331603 | d95ab9fe07df0865f592574b3b33b9c741d9fd1b |
| titles       |           443308 | d12d5f746b88f07e69b9e36675b6067abb01b60e |
| salaries     |          2844047 | b5a1785c27d75e33a4173aaa22ccf41ebd7d4a9f |
| table_name   | records_match | crc_match |
| employees    | OK            | ok        |
| departments  | OK            | ok        |
| dept_manager | OK            | ok        |
| dept_emp     | OK            | ok        |
| titles       | OK            | ok        |
| salaries     | OK            | ok        |

real    0m59.756s
user    0m0.011s
sys     0m0.057s

The final Employees DB schema/model that we will use to create LDAP tree is the following:

Fig. 4. Employees MySQL schema

6. Download MySQL JDBC library and copy to Virtual Directory Server, in this case to /opt/vd-server-2.0/lib/ext/ folder.

[root@directorysrv1 temp]# cp mysql-connector-java-5.1.13-bin.jar /opt/vd-server-2.0/lib/ext/

7. Create a new Partition in our Virtual Directory Server.

A Partition in our Virtual Directory contains all relationships beetwen:

  • Connections: data servers such as DB servers or other LDAP servers
  • Sources: applications such as for Liferay, for Alfresco, for Intalio, for Windows Authentication, …
  • Identities: individual entries and
  • Mappings: links between entities.

It is necessary to add new namingContexts to existing Root DSE in /opt/vd-server-2.0/conf/directory.xml. This file will be like:


8. Map tables-fields with attributes of the new LDAP tree in our Virtual Directory.

  • Liferay Portal domain: new LDAP tree/domain, in this example is “”.
  • Liferay Portal Users: the employees table of MySQL DB maps to inetOrgPerson (or organizationalPerson or other similar) entries in LDAP.
  • Liferay Portal Groups: the departments table of MySQL DB maps to organizationalUnit (or other similar) entries in LDAP, in this example we will not use Groups.
  • Additional fields required for Liferay Portal such email, title will be obtained by joining fields values such employees.first_name, employees.last_name with “”, and title will be obtained of titles.title and so on. In this example, “title” LDAP attribute of inetOrgPerson will be compose with differents values of the Employees table.
  • The password to log into Liferay Portal will be stored as SHA1 in a new field created in table Employees. For our convenience, all user passwords will be equal to “function_sha1(‘test’) =qUqP5cyxm6YcTAhz05Hph5gvu9M=”.
  • Only allow access to Liferay Portal to users (Employees) hired in August 1999. In this case we will use this sentence: SELECT emp_no FROM employees WHERE hire_date BETWEEN ‘1999-08-01’ AND ‘1999-08-31’ . This constrain will be a filter in our Virtual Directory Partition.

For your convenience, I include all files that are part of the new Partition (connections, sources, mapping and constrains) created into Virtual Directory. You can download it from here: Penrose Server partition

9. Create new partition (“intix_info_liferay” folder) in Virtual Directory.

[root@directorysrv1 /]# mkdir /opt/vd-server-2.0/partitions/intix_info_liferay/DIR-INF

10. Copy all files (connections.xml, directory.xml, mappings.xml, modules.xml, partition.xml and sources.xml) to /opt/vd-server-2.0/partitons/intix_info_liferay/DIR-INF

11. Restart Virtual Directory:

[root@directorysrv1 /]# service vd-server restart

12. Browse into the new LDAP tree created (partition) in the Virtual Directory binding the new database created in MySQL Server.

Fig. 5. Browsing the new LDAP tree of Penrose Server

9. Configure LDAP Authentication in Liferay Portal

Now, We have a LDAP server (Penrose) with user credentials (identities) loaded. The next step is to configure Liferay Portal with these LDAP tree to do log in to Portal.

If you have already a Liferay installed, you have to make sure that Liferay can resolve the Virtual Directory. To check it:

[chilcano@lfry01 /]# ping directorysrv1

Then, from Liferay > Control Panel, configure LDAP authentication with Email Address as credentials to login.

Fig 6. Liferay LDAP AuthN: Email Address to access to Portal

Add and configure a new LDAP server (Penrose Server) in Liferay.

Fig 7. Liferay LDAP AuthN: Add Penrose Server as LDAP


Fig 8. Liferay LDAP AuthN: User and password to connect to Penrose Server


Fig 9. Liferay LDAP AuthN: Map and filter user credentials


Fig 10. Liferay LDAP AuthN: Map group and Export with empty values

10. Testing LDAP Authentication from Liferay Portal

Now you can use any user credential (any value of Employee table) to login Liferay.

Fig 11. Liferay Portal login


Fig 12. Login successfully and welcome page in Liferay


Fig 13. Liferay My Account (User details)

10. Testing LDAP Authentication from Apache Directory Studio

The user “” with password “test” can be verified. You can do from apache Directory Studio.

Open Apache Directory Studio, connect to Penrose Server, then go to entry “uid=480838,ou=Employees,dc=intix,dc=info”, click on password attribute, then open a windows where you can verify password. Follow the figures:

Fig 14. Explore attributes of authenticated User from Apache Directory Studio

Fig 15. Verify password (SHA1) from Apache Directory Studio

If you are planning to install other product or application in your organization, you could create a new LDAP tree under Root DSE “” as “ou=Alfresco Users, dc=intix, dc=info” and to select or filter existing users from Employee table.

Well, Penrose Server (Virtual Directory) has several applications and is easy adaptable to any Security User Schema.

Any questions, do not hesitate to emailme.


  • Remote access to MySQL
  • Sample database with test suite for MySQL Server


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Posted in Linux, Portal, Security
11 comments on “Liferay Portal LDAP Authentication with Penrose Server
  1. […] post is based on a previous one about Liferay Portal Server LDAP Authentication with Penrose Server, I recommend you read it for it will be easier to […]

  2. Chua Wen Ching says:

    Hi Roger,

    I followed all the steps above. Got all working except the last part.

    I tested with any emails (e.g. and password “test” (without double quotes). It says

    You have entered invalid data. Please try again.
    Authentication failed. Please try again.

    Not sure, what’s wrong? My penrose studio on windows xp can connect via my ubuntu server virtualbox (guest). Can see exactly your screen above. When i setup the settings for ldap in liferay, i tested the ldap connections and users, no problem too. It showed connection successfully and popup the users thing. I also verified the password “test” like described above in penrose studio. All working fine.

    Any way I can see what’s the cause of the issue? I can’t seem to find any logs issue at liferay->tomcat log folder on this. The error is too brief, need to find a way to nail down the issue. Or do you have suggestions to check whether i miss out any settings?

    Any help? Thanks in advance :)

    • Try to connect to Penrose Server with any ldap client, no penrose studio. Use the same above user/password to connect.
      If you can get successfully, then the problem is in config auth of liferay. Make sure you can ping from liferay to penrose and in liferay you can probe config with ldap, ldapsearch, groups,users,etc…


  3. Chua Wen Ching says:

    Hi Roger,

    I am using Liferay 6 community editions. Hope this will not be the issue.

    I tested with other ldap client like JXplorer. It worked fine just like Apache Directory Studio.

    I don’t need to ping. Coz liferay and penrose server are part of the same box. My testing is on Windows XP (Host) and Ubuntu 10.04 Server 32 bits (guest virtualbox). Once working properly, will move these installations to production server.

    what do you mean by config auth of liferay? Are you refering to or which relates to this article ? Hmm.. can’t seem to find these files in my liferay folders? Am I missing out anything? Any help? Thanks.

  4. Chua Wen Ching says:

    Hi Roger,

    Yes, i tested the liferay ldap connection and users from liferay -> portal settings -> authentication -> ldap (add new ldap).

    It worked fine. But still can’t login with any of the users. Any other place which I can check? Thanks.

    • Wich exact liferay version are you working ?

      have you enabled sync ldap users (import ldap users) ?

      can you verify if users have been imported into liferay ?


      • Chua Wen Ching says:

        Hi Roger,

        I am using liferay portal 6.0.6 CE.

        This is weird. I was browsing through the liferay control panel. Suddenly I clicked on Users. I was surprised to see that all my ldap users appeared inside the users list.

        But again, I still can’t login.

        So I manually changed 1 of the user’s password to test (or whatever password). Then I login again. It worked!

        This is weird, coz if I use apache directory studio .. each users I can verify the test password.

        Any idea why the users’ password did not replicate to liferay properly? not sure this ldap or liferay issue?

        in ldap authentication -> users -> password field -> userPassword (is using the same property with the directory.xml mapping from penrose server).

        return “{SHA}qUqP5cyxm6YcTAhz05Hph5gvu9M=”;

        I feel is something wrong with the directory.xml .. maybe the code above doesn’t work!

        i used your default files, except i change to instead. All the same.

        But I am happy at least I can login now :) it’s better start though :) just hope the above can be resolved, that is even better.


        3. There is an issue when importing users from LDAP tree in Liferay. The passwords are created with random value and no with “test”.


  5. Chua Wen Ching says:

    no wonder :) thanks for the input :)

    alright, i can move on to the next article “Web-SSO between Liferay and Alfresco with CAS and Penrose (part 1/2)” .. that will be the next challenge :)

    let’s hope i can integrate liferay & openerp :) can’t wait :) thanks Roger for being a life savior :)

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