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FreeIPA is a Fedora-based way to create a security, identity, and authentication domain. The different security and authentication protocols available to Linux and Unix systems (like Kerberos, NIS, DNS, PAM, and sudo) are complex, unrelated, and difficult to manage coherently, especially when combined with different identity stores.
FreeIPA provides a layer that unifies all of these disparate services and simplifies the administrative tasks for managing users, systems, and security. FreeIPA breaks management down into two categories: identity and policy. It centralizes the functions of managing the users and entities within your IT environment (identity) and then provides a framework to define authentication and authorization for a global security framework and user-friendly tools like single sign-on (policy).

1. Audience and Purpose

With FreeIPA, a Fedora system can easily become the center of an identity/authentication domain and even provide access to the domain for clients of other operating systems. FreeIPA is an integrated system, that builds on existing and reliable technologies like LDAP and certificate protocols, with a robust yet straightforward set of tools (including a web-based UI). The key to identity/policy management with FreeIPA is simplicity and flexibility:
  • Centralized identity stores for authentication and single sign-on using both integrated LDAP services (with 389 Directory Server) and, optionally, NIS services
  • Clear and manageable administrative control over system services like PAM, NTP, and sudo
  • Simplified DNS domains and maintenance
  • Scalable Kerberos realms and cross-realms which clients can easily join
This guide is written for systems administrators and IT staff who will manage FreeIPA domains, user systems, and servers. This assumes a moderate knowledge of Linux-based systems administration and familiarity with important concepts like access control, LDAP, and Kerberos.
This guide covers every aspect of using FreeIPA, including preparation and installation processes, administrative tasks, and the FreeIPA tools. This guide also explains the major concepts behind both identity and policy management, generally, and FreeIPA features specifically. Administrative tasks in this guide are categorized as either Identity or Policy in the chapter title to help characterize the administrative functions.