I seem to be digging up rants this week. I'm a pretty positive guy, you just wouldn't know it by reading my blog this week. I'm currently working on deploying a fresh Sun Directory Server environment using version 6.3.1. This is to replace an aging 5.2 environment that's ready to retire. Overall I've been very impressed with how much more mature and polished the new version is. A few learning curves to get through, but once I found the right way I was pleased with the product. Unfortunately, today I hit something that just can't be right. Unfortunately, it seems to be confirmed by a bunch of Google hits so I'm not the only one.
When you use Directory Services Control Center (DSCC) to add a user it doesn't provide any of the POSIX fields you need from the posixAccount class. So, your new users pretty much have a user name and a first / last name. No home directory, no user ID, no group ID, and hey... You didn't need a shell did you? Are you kidding me?
The workaround, and I use the term loosely, appears to be adding the record without the necessary information, then editing the record after it is created. You then switch the record to "text mode" and manually insert the following lines into the editable section:
gecos: John Smith
Ok, so that gets us an account, but isn't it moderately annoying to have to go through all that? Why in the name of Scott McNealy didn't anyone make the wild and unruly assumption that once in a freakishly rare moon someone might use DSEE to centralize the administration of their Solaris users. After all, NIS and NIS+ are deprecated and no one digs local file editing. So, wouldn't that assumption have been somewhere around the top ten for their user requirements?
I did a quick dig to see if I could find a simple configuration file that specified what schema object(s) were used when adding a user attribute, or populating the "common objects" menu, but came up dry. I'll have to a deeper search when time allows. I know it's sitting in some XML file somewhere, but there's more than a few to look through.
So what are my options? Well, there's always the LDIF plan. Which is pretty much useless to the folks who typically manage user account maintenance. Way too error-prone. It's also pretty aggravating for day to day administration. LDIF is pretty much intended for batch loading and sitting behind various automations. I shouldn't need to write an automation solution to add simple UNIX accounts since that capability was standard in the 5.x Directory Servers.
Another option is to use Sun's Directory Editor which is part of DSEE. This path leads to some entertainment as well. If you try to download DSE, the web form will not let you select a platform, and thus prevents you from downloading the component. So, you need to download the ZIP distribution of DSEE instead. Then you just need to deploy Sun's Application Server, or Tomcat. Yeah, just what I needed - another component. Doesn't webconsole already sit on an app server? The best part is, DSE is left over from the 2005Q1 JES distribution from what I can see. Obviously, not a high priority for maintenance. Very encouraging indeed.
So, while Sun's Directory Server continues to be a phenomenal data repository it appears that Sun views its user base as being application / identity developers rather then the legions of system administrators / engineers out there trying to implement a well supported central management strategy. Come on guys and gals, it's not that hard to make us happy. Lose the web 2.0 bling and give us core functionality. Hmm, then add the bling back in! The DSCC interface really is very nice, but what good is a hot car without a steering wheel?