Building an Address Book with OpenLDAP

by Dustin Puryear
LDAP Comes to the Rescue, Again

There has been a lot of buzz in the past few years about using the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) for centralizing system and network information, providing cross-platform user account databases, and even for creating a single repository of printer definitions and configuration information. All of these uses are truly incredible, and they only go to show you the level of flexibility available with LDAP. Most of these examples neglect an important and obvious example–using LDAP for a company-wide address book.

Why is a centralized address book important, and how can it be used? For starters, I think just about every consultant has walked onto a site–even a large one–where everyone has contact information stored locally in their contact management software. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, if you don’t mind losing the ability to update contact information effortlessly across the entire company.

The only requirement here is for contact software or email clients that support LDAP. Most email software does, including UNIX- and Linux-based software, such as Netscape Mail and Evolution, and Windows clients, such as Outlook. The trick is usually not in finding the right software, but in ensuring that you use the right attributes that will be supported universally by those clients. This article will suggest appropriate attributes for your address book and will provide examples of configuring your email clients to support your LDAP-based directory.



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