Install and Configure FreeIPA Server on Rocky Linux 8

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Today’s guide will be on the installation and configuration of FreeIPA Server on Rocky Linux 8 system. FreeIPA is an open source solution that provide a unified and centralized way to manage authentication, policies, identity stores, and authorization policies in a Linux-based domain. The solution is created to reduce the overhead for Linux Administrators in management of different systems and services individually in the Infrastructure. With FreeIPA Identity Management solution, System Administrators can set different access levels for users by using host-based access control, delegation, and other rules.

FreeIPA is one of the few centralized policy, identity, and authorization free to use software solutions fit for enterprise use. This software solution has some advanced features and support for:

  • Large groups of Linux machines
  • Native integration with Windows Active Directory
  • Advanced features of Linux operating system environments
  • Full multi master replication for higher redundancy and scalability
  • Provision of extensible management interfaces (Web UI, CLI, XMLRPC and JSONRPC API) and Python SDK

In this short article we’ll be performing the installation and configuration of FreeIPA on Rocky Linux 8. We’re performing this setup on a freshly installed Rocky Linux 8 server. As IPA services ports could conflict with other Linux services, it is recommended to perform the installation on a new system.

Key Benefits of using FreeIPA

  • Central Authentication Management – Centralized management of users, machines, and services within large Linux/Unix enterprise environments.
  • Fine-grained Access Control: Provides a clear method of defining access control policies to govern user identities and delegation of administrative tasks.
  • One Time Password (OTP): Provides a popular method for achieving two-factor authentication (2FA).
  • Direct Connect to Active Directory: You can retrieve information from Active Directory (AD) and join a domain or realm in a standard way.
  • Active Directory Cross-Realm Trust: As System Administrator, you can establish cross-forest Kerberos trusts with Microsoft Active Directory. This allows external Active Directory (AD) users convenient access to resources in the Identity Management domain.
  • Integrated Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Service: This provides PKI services that sign and publish certificates for hosts and services, Certificate Revocation List (CRL) and OCSP services for software validating the published certificate, and an API to request, show, and find certificates.

Step 1: Set hostname, Timezone, Update System

Let’s start with correct configuration of the system hostname.

sudo hostnamectl set-hostname

The host name must be a fully qualified domain name, such as

Once the hostname has been configured set system timezone to match your region:

sudo timedatectl set-timezone Africa/Nairobi
sudo timedatectl set-local-rtc 0

Confirm your settings:

$ timedatectl
               Local time: Fri 2021-07-16 21:28:38 EAT
           Universal time: Fri 2021-07-16 18:28:38 UTC
                 RTC time: Fri 2021-07-16 18:28:38
                Time zone: Africa/Nairobi (EAT, +0300)
System clock synchronized: yes
              NTP service: active
          RTC in local TZ: no

Step 2: Check FreeIPA installation requirements

FreeIPA server comprises of the following key components as its building blocks

  • MIT Kerberos KDC – Provides Single-Sign-on authentication solution
  • 389 Directory Server – Main data store and provides a full multi-master LDAPv3 directory infrastructure.
  • Dogtag Certificate System – This component provides CA & RA used for certificate management functions.
  • ISC Bind DNS server – Bind is the default Domain name resolution service in FreeIPA.
  • Web UI / CLI Interface– Used to centrally manage access control, the delegation of administrative tasks and other network administration tasks.
  • NTP Server – For time synchronization across fleet of nodes joined to the domain

Here are the minimum hardware requirements for installing FreeIPA Server on Rocky Linux 8:

  • Minimum 4GB memory
  • Minimum of 2 vCPUs
  • A fully qualified domain name used as idM domain – should be resolvable from DNS server configured in the system
  • Minimum of 10 GB Disk space availability

You can check the hardware requirements by using the commands below:

# CPU Cores
$ lcpu

# Memory check
$ free -h

# Disk space
$ lsblk  -fp

Edit /etc/hosts file and add server’s IP address and matching hostnam:

$ sudo vi /etc/hosts

Confirm that all the requirement are met then proceed to install FreeIPA Server on Rocky Linux 8.

Confirm that the hostname does not resolve to the loopback address, but only to the system’s public IP address.

dig +short A

Verify the reverse DNS configuration (PTR records) is set correctly in your DNS Server using dig command:

$ dig +short -x 

Below is a list of ports used by IPA IdM to communicate with the services:


Additionally, ports 80808443, and 749 must be free as they are used internally.

Step 3: Install FreeIPA Server on Rocky Linux 8

Next we perform the installation of FreeIPA packages on Rocky Linux 8 server. No extra RPM repository is required, all the packages and dependencies are available in default OS default repositories.

Upgrade and reboot the system

sudo yum -y update
sudo reboot

In EL8 based systems,the packages necessary for installing FreeIPA server are shipped in a module stream called the DL1 stream. You’ll need to enable the stream before performing packages installation from the stream.

You can use the following command to list modules that contain IdM packages.

$ sudo yum module list idm
Rocky Linux 8 - AppStream                                                                                                          23 MB/s | 7.8 MB     00:00
Rocky Linux 8 - BaseOS                                                                                                            8.0 MB/s | 3.5 MB     00:00
Rocky Linux 8 - Extras                                                                                                             21 kB/s | 3.8 kB     00:00
Rocky Linux 8 - AppStream
Name            Stream                Profiles                                            Summary
idm             DL1                   adtrust, client, common [d], dns, server            The Red Hat Enterprise Linux Identity Management system module
idm             client [d]            common [d]                                          RHEL IdM long term support client module

Hint: [d]efault, [e]nabled, [x]disabled, [i]nstalled

As seen from the output DL1 is the system Identity Management module. More information on the module can be checked using the command:

sudo dnf module info idm:DL1

Enable the idm:DL1 stream:

sudo yum module enable idm:DL1

Example output:

Rocky Linux 8 - AppStream                                                                                                         8.6 MB/s | 8.0 MB     00:00
Rocky Linux 8 - BaseOS                                                                                                             15 MB/s | 4.5 MB     00:00
Rocky Linux 8 - Extras                                                                                                             18 kB/s | 3.8 kB     00:00
Dependencies resolved.
 Package                                Architecture                          Version                                Repository                              Size
Enabling module streams:
 389-ds                                                                       1.4
 httpd                                                                        2.4
 idm                                                                          DL1
 pki-core                                                                     10.6
 pki-deps                                                                     10.6

Transaction Summary

Is this ok [y/N]: y

Switch to the RPMs delivered through the idm:DL1 stream:

sudo yum distro-sync

Choose one of the following options, depending on your IdM requirements:

  • Installing IdM server without an integrated DNS:
sudo yum module install idm:DL1/server
  • Installing FreeIPA server with an integrated DNS:
sudo yum module install idm:DL1/dns
  • Installing FreeIPA server that has a trust agreement with Active Directory:
sudo yum module install idm:DL1/adtrust
  • For multiple profiles, e.g dns and adtrust profiles:
sudo yum module install idm:DL1/dns,adtrust
  • For FreeIPA client
sudo yum module install idm:DL1/client

Run FreeIPA Server installer

We can now run the ipa-server-install utility. The installer script will create a log file at /var/log/ipaserver-install.log:

sudo ipa-server-install

The script prompts for several required settings and offers recommended default values in brackets.

  • To accept a default value, press Enter.
  • To provide a custom value, enter the required value.

For Non-interactive installation for IdM without DNS:

sudo ipa-server-install --realm EXAMPLE.COM \
  --ds-password DM_password \
  --admin-password admin_password \

# OR
sudo ipa-server-install \
    --domain \
    --realm EXAMPLE.COM \
    --ds-password DM_password \
    --admin-password admin_password

The minimum required options for non-interactive installation are:

  • --realm to provide the Kerberos realm name
  • --ds-password to provide the password for the Directory Manager (DM), the Directory Server super user
  • --admin-password to provide the password for admin, the IdM administrator
  • --unattended to let the installation process select default options for the host name and domain name

Non-interactive installation for IdM with integrated DNS:

sudo ipa-server-install --domain --realm EXAMPLE.COM \ \
    --no-forwarders \
    --no-ntp \
    --setup-dns \
    --ds-password DM_password \
    --admin-password admin_password \

Interactive installation

Here is the extraction from my installation:

$ sudo ipa-server-install

The log file for this installation can be found in /var/log/ipaserver-install.log
This program will set up the IPA Server.
Version 4.9.2

This includes:
  * Configure a stand-alone CA (dogtag) for certificate management
  * Configure the NTP client (chronyd)
  * Create and configure an instance of Directory Server
  * Create and configure a Kerberos Key Distribution Center (KDC)
  * Configure Apache (httpd)
  * Configure the KDC to enable PKINIT

To accept the default shown in brackets, press the Enter key.

Do you want to configure integrated DNS (BIND)? [no]: no

Enter the fully qualified domain name of the computer
on which you're setting up server software. Using the form

Server host name []:

The domain name has been determined based on the host name.

Please confirm the domain name []:

The kerberos protocol requires a Realm name to be defined.
This is typically the domain name converted to uppercase.

Please provide a realm name [EXAMPLE.COM]: EXAMPLE.COM
Certain directory server operations require an administrative user.
This user is referred to as the Directory Manager and has full access
to the Directory for system management tasks and will be added to the
instance of directory server created for IPA.
The password must be at least 8 characters long.

Directory Manager password: 
Password (confirm): 

The IPA server requires an administrative user, named 'admin'.
This user is a regular system account used for IPA server administration.

IPA admin password:
Password (confirm):

Do you want to configure chrony with NTP server or pool address? [no]: yes
Enter NTP source server addresses separated by comma, or press Enter to skip:,
Enter a NTP source pool address, or press Enter to skip:

The IPA Master Server will be configured with:
IP address(es):
Domain name:
Realm name:     EXAMPLE.COM

The CA will be configured with:
Subject DN:   CN=Certificate Authority,O=EXAMPLE.COM
Subject base: O=EXAMPLE.COM
Chaining:     self-signed

NTP server:
NTP server:
Continue to configure the system with these values? [no]: yes

The following operations may take some minutes to complete.
Please wait until the prompt is returned.

Disabled p11-kit-proxy
Synchronizing time
Configuration of chrony was changed by installer.
Attempting to sync time with chronyc.
Process chronyc waitsync failed to sync time!
Unable to sync time with chrony server, assuming the time is in sync. Please check that 123 UDP port is opened, and any time server is on network.
Warning: IPA was unable to sync time with chrony!
         Time synchronization is required for IPA to work correctly
Configuring directory server (dirsrv). Estimated time: 30 seconds
  [1/41]: creating directory server instance
  [2/41]: tune ldbm plugin

Successful installation command output:

Sudoers I/O plugin version 1.8.29
Client hostname:
DNS Domain:
IPA Server:
BaseDN: dc=example,dc=com

Configured sudoers in /etc/authselect/user-nsswitch.conf
Configured /etc/sssd/sssd.conf
Systemwide CA database updated.
Adding SSH public key from /etc/ssh/
Adding SSH public key from /etc/ssh/
Adding SSH public key from /etc/ssh/
Could not update DNS SSHFP records.
SSSD enabled
Configured /etc/openldap/ldap.conf
Configured /etc/ssh/ssh_config
Configured /etc/ssh/sshd_config
Configuring as NIS domain.
Client configuration complete.
The ipa-client-install command was successful

Please add records in this file to your DNS system: /tmp/ipa.system.records.hh7e7u2h.db
Setup complete

Next steps:
	1. You must make sure these network ports are open:
		TCP Ports:
		  * 80, 443: HTTP/HTTPS
		  * 389, 636: LDAP/LDAPS
		  * 88, 464: kerberos
		UDP Ports:
		  * 88, 464: kerberos
		  * 123: ntp

	2. You can now obtain a kerberos ticket using the command: 'kinit admin'
	   This ticket will allow you to use the IPA tools (e.g., ipa user-add)
	   and the web user interface.

Be sure to back up the CA certificates stored in /root/cacert.p12
These files are required to create replicas. The password for these
files is the Directory Manager password
The ipa-server-install command was successful

If you have firewalld running then allow the the following services and ports in the default zone:

# Without integrated DNS
sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=ntp,freeipa-4

# With DNS
sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --add-service=ntp,dns,freeipa-4

Then reload firewalld configuration for the change to take effect immediately:

sudo firewall-cmd --reload
sudo firewall-cmd --list-all

Step 4: Access FreeIPA Management Dashboard

After installation FreeIPA Server web-based administration console can be accessed using the server hostname on https:

Ignore SSL warning by clicking “Advanced” > “Proceed to (unsafe)


Login with admin username and password set during installation.


Upon successful login you’re presented with an interface that has such a look:


Step 5: Secure FreeIPA Server With Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate

After installation we recommend using secure SSL on your FreeIPA Server. If running on a public instance follow our guide in the next link:

Step 6: Using CLI Interface to Manage FreeIPA Server

The ipa command can be used to perform all FreeIPA server operations.

But first, get admin user Kerberos ticket:

$ sudo kinit admin
Password for [email protected]: 

Check ticket expiry information using klist.

$ sudo klist
Ticket cache: KCM:0
Default principal: [email protected]

Valid starting       Expires              Service principal
08/02/2021 17:42:38  08/03/2021 17:42:31  krbtgt/[email protected]

Set user’s default shell to /bin/bash.

$ sudo ipa config-mod --defaultshell=/bin/bash 
   Maximum username length: 32
   Home directory base: /home
   Default shell: /bin/bash
   Default users group: ipausers
   Default e-mail domain:
   Search time limit: 2
   Search size limit: 100
   User search fields: uid,givenname,sn,telephonenumber,ou,title
   Group search fields: cn,description
   Enable migration mode: FALSE
   Certificate Subject base: O=EXAMPLE.COM
   Password Expiration Notification (days): 4
   Password plugin features: AllowNThash, KDC:Disable Last Success
   SELinux user map order: guest_u:s0$xguest_u:s0$user_u:s0$staff_u:s0-s0:c0.c1023$unconfined_u:s0-s0:c0.c1023
   Default SELinux user: unconfined_u:s0-s0:c0.c1023
   Default PAC types: MS-PAC, nfs:NONE
   IPA masters:
   IPA CA servers:
   IPA CA renewal master:
   IPA master capable of PKINIT:

Test by adding a user account and listing accounts present:

$ sudo ipa user-add test  --first=Test --last=User \
[email protected] --password

Enter Password again to verify: 
 Added user "test"
   User login: test
   First name: Test
   Last name: User
   Full name: Test User
   Display name: Test User
   Initials: TU
   Home directory: /home/test
   GECOS: Test User
   Login shell: /bin/bash
   Principal name: [email protected]
   Principal alias: [email protected]
   User password expiration: 20210802153038Z
   Email address: [email protected]
   UID: 1201400001
   GID: 1201400001
   Password: True
   Member of groups: ipausers
   Kerberos keys available: True

To list user accounts added, run:

$ sudo ipa user-find
2 users matched
  User login: admin
  Last name: Administrator
  Home directory: /home/admin
  Login shell: /bin/bash
  Principal alias: [email protected]
  UID: 1201400000
  GID: 1201400000
  Account disabled: False

  User login: test
  First name: Test
  Last name: User
  Home directory: /home/test
  Login shell: /bin/bash
  Principal name: [email protected]
  Principal alias: [email protected]
  Email address: [email protected]
  UID: 1201400001
  GID: 1201400001
  Account disabled: False
Number of entries returned 2

Try to login as testuser. On your first log in, you’ll be asked to change your password:

$ ssh [email protected]
Password expired. Change your password now.
Current Password: 
New password: id
uid=1201400003(test1) gid=1201400003(test1) groups=1201400003(test1) cont

If you want to modify user password expiry period refer to the following guide:

You can play with the interface to understand placement of various FreeIPA management functions. In the guides to follow we cover usage examples – how FreeIPA server can help in Infrastructure-wide user, groups, hosts and policy management. Stay connected for updates.

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