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This practical guide is aimed towards system engineers and other technical personnel responsible for supporting LDAP-enabled systems. LDAP is the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol.

Everyone responsible for LDAP services daily operations should make themselves familiar with the basic knowledge needed to understand directory services.

This guide aims at the heart of LDAP and tries to be applicable for all OpenLDAP-derived systems, including iPlanet and SunONE directory services on a (really wild) variety of platforms.

How can it be a practical guide if multiple systems are discussed, you are wondering?

We solved the problem by focussing primarily on the underlying database structure and format. The same data storage format is used by all LDAP servers, and tools using this common data format are available in every LDAP distribution. Understanding the LDAP data fomat is the the first step on the road to understanding the LDAP server, LDAP-enabled services and LDAP tools.

Furthermore, we assume that you are a sensible human being who runs her/his LDAP database on a Linux or other UNIX-alike server, but even that is not a requirement, as long as you're prepared to dig in a couple of text files while paging through this document.