ForgeRock DS and the LDAP Relax Rules Control

In ForgeRock Directory Services 6.5, we’ve added the support for the LDAP Relax Rules Control, both on the server and our clients. One of my colleagues, involved with the customers’ deployment, asked me why we’ve added the control and what it should be used for.

The LDAP Relax Rules Control is an LDAP extension that allows a directory user agent (a client) to request the directory service to temporarily relax enforcement of various data and service model rules. The internet-draft is explicit about which rules can be relaxed or not. But typically it can be used to allow a client to write specific operational attributes that should be read-only and managed by the server.

Starting with OpenDJ 3.0, we’ve removed the ability to bulk import LDIF data to a server while preserving the existing data (the “append mode”). First, performing an import-ldif in append mode was breaking replication. The import needed to be applied to all replica, while no change was to happen on the new data. The process was cumbersome, especially when having multiple data-centers. But also, removing this feature allowed us to have a more generic interface and implement multiple backend using different underlying key-value stores.

But we have a few customers that have the need to seldom bulk load a large set of users to their directory service. In DS 6.0, we’ve added an option to speed bulk operations using ldapmodify or ldapdelete: –numConnections. Instead of serialising all updates or adds contained in an LDIF file, the tool will run them in parallel across multiple connections, while also controlling dependencies of changes. With this options, some of our customers have added several millions of users to their replicated directory services in minutes. By controlling the number of connections, one can also balance the need for speed of bulk loading data against the need to keep bandwidth for the regular client applications.

Doing bulk updates over LDAP is now fast, but some customers used the import process to also carry over some attributes that are usually managed by the directory server and thus read-only, such as the CreateTimeStamp, the CreatorsName.

And this is specifically what the Relax Rules Control is meant to allow.

So, if you have a need to bulk load large set of data, or synchronise over LDAP data from another server, and need to preserve some of the operational attribute, you can use the Relax Rules Control as illustrated below. Note that the OID for the control is 1.3.6.1.4.1.4203.666.5.12 but ForgeRock DS tools also recognise the RelaxRules string alias.

$ ldapmodify -p 1389 -D cn=directory\ manager -w secret12
-J RelaxRules:true --numConnections 4 ../50Kusers.ldif
...
ADD operation successful for DN uid=user.10021,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com
ADD operation successful for DN uid=user.10022,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com
ADD operation successful for DN uid=user.10001,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com
ADD operation successful for DN uid=user.10020,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com
ADD operation successful for DN uid=user.10026,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com
ADD operation successful for DN uid=user.10025,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com
ADD operation successful for DN uid=user.10024,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com
ADD operation successful for DN uid=user.10005,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com
ADD operation successful for DN uid=user.10033,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com
ADD operation successful for DN uid=user.10029,ou=People,dc=example,dc=com
...

Note that because the Relax Rules Control allows to override some of the rules enforced normally by the server, it’s important to control and restrict which clients or users are allowed to make use of it. In ForgeRock DS, you would use ACIs (global or not) to define who has permission to use the control. Out of the box, only Directory Manager can, because it has the bypass access controls privilege. Check the “Use Control or Extended Operation” section of the Administration Guide for the details on how to allow a user to use a control.