Provisioning DNS Server Using PowerDNS

When you want to setup a DNS server on *nix platform, the first option that may cross your mind is bind9. But there are other options such as PowerDNS. In this post I’m going to show you how to setup a DNS server in single node mode. This DNS server is going to be authoritative and forwarder (in case of PowerDNS, recursor mode). Database is going to be mysql and for managing it I’m going to use powerdns-admin using Docker, and all of these, going to be installed on a single node with Ubuntu 18 lts and PowerDNS 4.1.1. This solution is suitable for small to medium sized companies although in this scenario I don’t config a secondary DNS server.

A little bit of theory first, DNS servers have two modes. Authoritative and forwarder. In authoritative mode when a client asks for a domain name the DNS server is responsible to give the IP address, in other words, authoritative DNS servers are the one which own the IP/Domain database.

DNS forwarder task is to redirect requests to other authoritative DNS servers.

In this scenario we want to setup a DNS server for a company to answer local DNS requests as well as redirect external requests to other DNS servers.

First of all update your packages :

sudo apt -y update && sudo apt -y upgrade

Since Ubuntu 18+ comes with a new DNS resolver, this daemon uses udp port 53. Which is going to be used by PowerDNS instead, so we have to stop and disable this service using :

sudo systemctl stop systemd-resolved
sudo systemctl disable systemd-resolved

After removing this daemon you’ll not have local DNS forward, for resolving this issue edit the /etc/resol.conf and add following line :

nameserver # you need to set a DNS server

Then we have to prepare Mysql backend :

sudo apt install mysql-server

After installing Mysql if you interested you can make it more secure using following :

sudo mysql_secure_installation

This command will take you to series of questions, such as root password for Mysql or disabling anonymous user. In my case I will config Mysql root password with mysql_native_password mode in order to access Mysql database using password.

Configuring mysql_native_password :

sudo mysql

> ALTER USER 'root'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED WITH mysql_native_password BY 'PASSWORD';


> exit;

Note : Make sure your server’s date/time is correct. It might not seem important in this case, but it is a best practice to sync date/time

Installing PowerDNS :

sudo apt install pdns-server pdns-backend-mysql

In contrast to older version of PowerDNS, in 4.1.1 version you don’t need to do anything further since the installer will take care of configuring mysql and other configs. In order to make sure everything is working correctly you can check PowerDNS’s mysql setting with :

cat /etc/powerdns/pdns.d/pdns.local.gmysql.conf

You ought to see following:

# MySQL Configuration
# Launch gmysql backend

# gmysql parameters

At the moment you have a DNS server with default authoritative mode installed on port 53 which can only response to DNS requests it knows about, in other words, it doesn’t answer to queries such as since it doesn’t have DNS forwarder.

Since we want this DNS server to be responsible for both modes. The forwarder mode needs to listen to port 53 rather than the authoritative one. We will change default port of authoritative DNS server to something else.

vim /etc/powerdns/pdns.conf

Edit followings:


Restart PowerDNS

sudo systemctl restart pdns

Make sure PowerDNS listens to port 5300

sudo netstat -nlp | grep 5300

Now installing PowerDNS recursor

sudo apt install pdns-recursor

Edit recursor configs

sudo vim /etc/powerdns/recursor.conf

In order to response to local request, there should be a domain name, in our example I will use

Also if you want to choose a specific external DNS forwarder you can config such as following :,.=

And then restart the service

sudo systemctl restart pdns-recursor

now you have a fully functional DNS server which can serve both local and forward requests. But how about managing it? there is a util ships with PowerDNS called pdnsutil but I am not going to use this, rather I will install a GUI based administrating tool called, powerdns-admin. For using this tool I will install it using docker-compose. All I need is powerdns-admin docker-compose file.


Make sure you have installed docker and docker-compose on your system

I don’t want to use any local database for powerdns-admin so I will remove following line from downloaded docker-compose.yml

SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI=mysql://pda:[email protected]/pda

In this way the powerdns-admin will start using sqlite which is suffice for my setup. Then I will run the service with following command:

docker-compose up -d

When we run this docker-compose file we can reach it from port 9191 via a browser. At first we need to create a user which is a straightforward task, then we can login to powerdns-admin using the created username/password. But powerdns-admin doesn’t work without API key and API url. We need to enable PowerDNS API and webserver first. These configs belong to authoritative component, edit following file :

sudo vim /etc/powerdns/pdns.conf

Add following lines :





Restart the pdns service again.

sudo systemctl restart pdns

Since we are using powerdns-admin in docker mode inside the PowerDNS server, it has to know IP address of PowerDNS internally. We can find docker ip using :

ip r

We are looking for docker IP address which in my case is, yours is going to be different. So make sure you’ve got your correct IP first.

Then we will get back to browser, Setting > PDNS

Add your IP address and the API key and done. Now you have a fully functional DNS server with a GUI administrating tool.

For Editing local DNS server you have to go to Dashboard and create the over there and rest is easy.

Just remember don’t edit PowerDNS records directly from mysql unless you know what you are doing, otherwise you’ll get couple of errors and your DNS won’t work properly.

Also in this scenario I didn’t config firewall but you need to config a firewall and allow users only access to specific ports.

Using Putty to Automate Cisco Devices

Sometimes you want to automate some cumbersome tasks in your Cisco devices, namely I am dealing with an old 3750 core router with OS version 12.x and I don’t want to login to it manually every time I want to change a config or shutdown an interface. Hence I thought I can make use of SSH command to access the device and automate it. But SSH doesn’t help at all due to exec channel issue of Cisco, in fact you can’t send multiple lines of command to your device via SSH command.

After searching a while I figured out that I can use Plink instead of SSH. the Plink belongs to PuTTY project and you can download it from here for windows users, or if you are linux user you can install it via command line.

using Plink, it is easy to communicate with your Cisco devices, One way that I automate some of my tasks is like following :


plink -hostkey a7:98:f8:db:87:0d:fc:ec:4e:00:00:00:00:a8:fe:a8 -ssh -l USERNAME -pw PASSWORD< /home/automate_change_vlan_101_103/commands101.txt

As you can see I defined a commands101.txt, inside this file I put my Cisco commands.

conf t
interface gi1/0/22
 no shutdown
do wr

Breakdown :

The only thing you need to know is, you need to have the public key of your device. The -hostkey is attaching public key to Plink, so Plink works in silent mode and it won’t prompt you to add public key.

Happy Automating!

How to Create JWT Token Using LDAP and Spring Boot Part 1

If you are working in an enterprise infrastructures, chances are that you are using a centralized authentication system, most likely Active Directory or openLDAP. In this blog I’ll explore how to create a REST API using spring boot to authenticate against openLDAP and create a JWT token in return.

Before getting our hand dirty, we need to review the architecture of spring security and the way we want to utilise it, in a REST API endpoint. According to openLDAP, I’ve explained it’s concept briefly before, you can read more about it here. Also I’ll assume that you know how Spring Boot and JWT works.

Spring Security

In this example I will extend the WebSecurityConfigurerAdapter. This class will assist me to intercept security chain of spring security and insert openLDAP authentication adapter in between.

In fact this abstract class provides convenient methods for configuring spring security configuration using HTTPSecurity object.

First of all I injected three different beans as follows :

   private OpenLdapAuthenticationProvider openLdapAuthenticationProvider;
   private JwtAuthenticationEntryPoint jwtAuthenticationEntryPoint;
   private JwtRequestFilter jwtRequestFilter;

Then override the configure(AuthenticationManagerBuilder auth) :

    protected void configure(AuthenticationManagerBuilder auth) throws Exception {

This will let us to override default behaviour of spring security authentication. In addition we need to override the configure(HttpSecurity httpSecurity):

    protected void configure(HttpSecurity httpSecurity) throws Exception {
        // We don't need CSRF for this example
                // dont authenticate this particular request
                // all other requests need to be authenticated
                // make sure we use stateless session; session won't be used to
                // store user's state.
                // Add a filter to validate the tokens with every request
                httpSecurity.addFilterBefore(jwtRequestFilter, UsernamePasswordAuthenticationFilter.class);

Also For the sake of manually authenticating a user in /api/login we will expose the authenticationManagerBean() :

    public AuthenticationManager authenticationManagerBean() throws Exception {
        return super.authenticationManagerBean();

After configuring WebSecurityConfig, I’ll provide my customer authentication adapter. This adapter will utilise spring’s LdapTemplate and let us to establish a connection to a LDAP server.

public class OpenLdapAuthenticationProvider implements AuthenticationProvider {

    private LdapContextSource contextSource;

    private LdapTemplate ldapTemplate;

    private void initContext() {
// I use anonymous binding so, no need to provide bind user/pass
        ldapTemplate = new LdapTemplate(contextSource);

    public Authentication authenticate(Authentication authentication) throws AuthenticationException {

        Filter filter = new EqualsFilter("uid", authentication.getName());
        Boolean authenticate = ldapTemplate.authenticate(LdapUtils.emptyLdapName(), filter.encode(),
        if (authenticate) {
            List<GrantedAuthority> grantedAuthorities = new ArrayList<>();
            grantedAuthorities.add(new SimpleGrantedAuthority("ROLE_USER"));
            UserDetails userDetails = new User(authentication.getName() ,authentication.getCredentials().toString()
            Authentication auth = new UsernamePasswordAuthenticationToken(userDetails,
                    authentication.getCredentials().toString() , grantedAuthorities);
            return auth;

        } else {
            return null;

    public boolean supports(Class<?> authentication) {
        return authentication.equals(UsernamePasswordAuthenticationToken.class);

Another part that we have to take into consideration is, implementing user login controller. Since we haven’t provided any filter for controlling username and password we ought to implementing it manually as follows :

public class LoginController {

    private AuthenticationManager authenticationManager;

    private JwtTokenUtil jwtTokenUtil;

    private UserService userService;

    public ResponseEntity<?> createAuthenticationToken(@RequestBody JwtRequest authenticationRequest) throws Exception
        authenticate(authenticationRequest.getUsername(), authenticationRequest.getPassword());
        final User userDetails = userService.loadUserByUsername(authenticationRequest.getUsername());
        final String token = jwtTokenUtil.generateToken(userDetails);
        return ResponseEntity.ok(new JwtResponse(token));

    private void authenticate(String username, String password) throws Exception {
        try {
            authenticationManager.authenticate(new UsernamePasswordAuthenticationToken(username, password));
        } catch (DisabledException e) {
            throw new Exception("USER_DISABLED", e);
        } catch (BadCredentialsException e) {
            throw new Exception("INVALID_CREDENTIALS", e);

These are the pillars of having a REST API + JWT + LDAP back-end using spring boot.

Now we can test the API using a REST client.

After getting the JWT token we can call authorized endpoints

You can find a working source code on my github.

For the next part I’ll make this code more concise.

How to Authenticate Against openLDAP Without Knowing DN Using java

In fact you can’t do it without knowing DN! There is an anonymous access in openLDAP which is enabled by default. The anonymous access let one to query(search filter) openLDAP without knowing bind username/password.

Run following command on your openLDAP server :

ldapwhoami -H ldap:// -x

If you get “anonymous” as result you are all set and your openLDAP is supporting anonymous query, otherwise this blog is not the one you are looking for!

So What’s the Deal?

Assume you know UID of the user in ldap directory but not his DN and assume the root directory hierarchy is : dc=devcrutch,dc=com . How do you want to get CN and then DN of such user in LDAP just by using UID? you might think of such query to get data out of openLDAP


If you run this query, it’ll get you to nowhere.

Here Comes the Anonymous Query

First of all you have to query the whole directory for finding such user. You have to create a query similar to following:


This query will search the entire Directory Information Tree (DIT) for such user name.

ldapsearch -x -h -b dc=devcrutch,dc=com "(&(objectClass=*)(uid=USERNAME))"

With such query you can get the DN. Using DN and password you can authenticate against LDAP.

Well this was the idea, applying a search filter using USERNAME via anonymous identity then find the DN and finally login using the retrieved DN.

Time for Some java

Now we have the rough idea it’s time to implement it in java. For finding DN you need to query the entire LDAP directory (note: in real world searching the entire directory is not a good idea, you have to narrow your query, otherwise your query might consume all the server’s resources)

private String findDN(String user) throws Exception {
    DirContext ctx = getContext();
    String dn = null;
    String filter = "(&(objectClass=*)(uid=" + user + "))";
    NamingEnumeration answer ="", filter, getSimpleSearchControls());
    if (answer.hasMore()) {
        SearchResult result = (SearchResult);
        dn = result.getNameInNamespace();
    return dn;

Then after finding the correct DN you can bind your username and password

public DirContext bind(String username, String password) throws Exception {
        DirContext dirContext;
        Hashtable<String, String> env = new Hashtable<String, String>();
        String dn = findDN(username);
        env.put(Context.SECURITY_AUTHENTICATION, "simple");
        env.put(Context.SECURITY_PRINCIPAL, dn);
        env.put(Context.SECURITY_CREDENTIALS, password);
        try {
            dirContext = getContext(env);
        } catch (javax.naming.AuthenticationException e) {
            throw new Exception(e);
        return dirContext;

That’s it.

You can find a working source code on my github

Installing openLDAP and Making it Replicable

OpenLDAP installation is fairly straight-forward and doesn’t have any caveats, but making it replicable has ambiguity. We will start with installing openLDAP. I will use following configs :

  • ubuntu 16.04 server
  • openLDAP 2.4.x
  • phpLDAPadmin

Installing openLDAP :

First thing first, update your ubuntu box :

sudo apt-get update

Install openLDAP :

sudo apt-get install slapd ldap-utils

During installation process you will prompted to enter administrator password. After installing the ldap server you need to configure it :

sudo dpkg-reconfigure slapd

You will see a basic gui with couple of prompts of how to configuring your openLDAP here is my config:

  • Omit openLDAP Server Configuration : No
  • DNS Domain : your domain in my case,
  • Organization Name : whatever you fancy, lab
  • Database : MDB (It’s an in-memory database based on BerkeleyDB. In case you were curious)
  • Remove Database when openLDAP is Removed : No
  • Move Old Database : Yes
  • Allow LDAP2 : No

That’s it, if you ever want to check status of your openLDAP :

ldapwhoami -H ldap:// -W -D "cn=admin,dc=lab,dc=devcrutch,dc=com"

This command will prompt you to enter your password and if you enter it correctly you will get following response :


You are all set to use openLDAP. Now let’s add an user for replication purposes inside provider (master) node. The replication user only needs to have a password and an OU, run following commands to add repl user with only a password

dn: cn=repl,dc=lab,dc=devcrutch,dc=com
objectClass: simpleSecurityObject
objectClass: organizationalRole
cn: repl
userPassword: {SSHA}Px1UjD+3EMII0g+JZBdZkdO6lhZt4j4k
#password is abc123

Save the above file in an LDIF file and run following command. I will call this file add_repl.ldif

ldapadd -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:// -f add_repl.ldif

This user needs to have a privilege to only read couple of items from directory, the most important items to read, is userPassword, cn, uid and shadowLastChange. But before granting such access there is an issue with openLDAP’s configs that shipped by Ubuntu 16.04. It is best to remove those configs using following command :

#Run ldapsearch -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi:// -b "cn=config"

#Not approapriate configs for making your openLDAP replicable
olcAccess: {0}to attrs=userPassword by self write by anonymous auth by * none
olcAccess: {1}to attrs=shadowLastChange by self write by * read
olcAccess: {2}to * by * read

For deleting them run:

ldapmodify -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi://

In the prompt write following lines one by one (this way you will delete them step by step for the sake of not getting any error)

dn: olcDatabase={1}mdb,cn=config 
changetype: modify
delete: olcAccess
olcAccess: {0}to attrs=userPassword by self write by anonymous auth by * none
#press enter
dn: olcDatabase={1}mdb,cn=config 
changetype: modify
delete: olcAccess
olcAccess: {0}to attrs=shadowLastChange by self write by * read
#press enter
dn: olcDatabase={1}mdb,cn=config 
changetype: modify
delete: olcAccess
olcAccess: {0}to * by * read
#Press ctrl-d at the end

And add following configs :

#Execute ldapmodify -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi://
#Then write these configs in it, at end press ctrl-d
dn: olcDatabase={1}mdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcAccess
olcAccess: {0}to attrs=userPassword,shadowLastChange by self write by anonymous auth by dn="cn=admin,dc=lab,dc=devcrutch,dc=com" write by dn="cn=repl,dc=lab,dc=devcrutch,dc=com" read by * none
#press enter
dn: olcDatabase={1}mdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcAccess
olcAccess: {1}to dn.base="" by * read
#press enter
dn: olcDatabase={1}mdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcAccess
olcAccess: {2}to * by self write by dn="cn=admin,dc=lab,dc=devcrutch,dc=com" write by * read

Now your provider is ready. We will go to consumer server. First of all install openLDAP using mentioned configs, it should be the same as the master. At the end add following configs into your consumer’s openLDAP :

#run ldapmodify -Y EXTERNAL -H ldapi://
dn: olcDatabase={1}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcDbIndex
olcDbIndex: entryUUID eq
#press enter
dn: olcDatabase={1}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcDbIndex
olcDbIndex: entryCSN eq
#press enter
dn: olcDatabase={1}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcDbIndex
olcDbIndex: ou eq
#press enter
dn: olcDatabase={1}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcDbIndex
olcDbIndex: uid eq
#press enter
dn: olcDatabase={1}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcDbIndex
olcDbIndex: cn eq
#press enter
dn: olcDatabase={1}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcDbIndex
olcDbIndex: dc eq
#press enter
dn: olcDatabase={1}hdb,cn=config
changetype: modify
add: olcSyncrepl
olcSyncrepl: rid=001 provider="ldap://YOUR_MASTER_IP_ADDRESS:389/" type=refreshAndPersist retry="60 30 300 +" searchbase="dc=lab,dc=devcrutch,dc=com" bindmethod=simple binddn="cn=repl,dc=lab,dc=devcrutch,dc=com" credentials="abc123"

The reason I separate configs is because of stupidity level of ldap tools. If you happen to have one of these configs inside your openLDAP previously, the ldapmodify nags about it and will kick you out without knowing which config is saved and which one isn’t, so the best way for me was saving them sequentially.

Reason for having another user rather the “cn=admin” was because of  security, if you take a closer look at the latter config you will see that you have to add your password as a plain text. So it’s best to not to reveal your admin’s password. The repl user is a readonly user.

At the end you can install phpOpenLDAP in provider and consumer :

sudo apt-get install phpldapadmin

Edit below config :

sudo vim /etc/phpldapadmin/config.php

Change the following :

Find the line contains


Change it to


And another line contains


Change it to


Note: In this tutorial I’ve tried to create a replication server, replication doesn’t mean you have availability, which means if your master(provider) server is down then your client querys the slave(consumer) server. Replication means consistency not availability. If you happen to want availability you need to config openLDAP in multi-master mode.

How to Configure Iptables in Stateful Mode Properly

Iptables is a software firewall based on Netfilter, in fact it’s a framework for working with Netfilter. Generally firewalls have two modes, stateless and stateful. In this post we will study a brief of how to configure Netfilter in stateful mode.

I’m going to assume your linux box is fresh installation and doesn’t have any rules on it. You can check your iptables rules by typing following command :

sudo iptables -nvL -t filter


-L : Shows list of rules

-t filter : t stands for table. The table we want to work with is calling  filter, eventhough it’s the default table but I’d rather to mention it

-n : Avoid long reserve DNS and only shows IP addresses

-v : Verbose

Next write following commands :

sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
sudo iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m state --state NEW -j ACCEPT

Rule of Thumb: The order of writing rules matters. You have to take take into account that Netfilter’s rules are checked sequentially and route of a packet is determined on the first match.

The first rule says if the packet is ESTABLISHED or is RELATED to another packet(e.g. ICMP error messages) then it can pass through. If the packet is completely NEW to Netfilter, it skips the first rule and try to match the packet with the second rule. Since ESTABLISHED and RELATED are more frequent, this helps iptables to perform faster by reducing number of rules to check.

Reason: When a client sends a packet to a server, it actually sends a SYN to server. Client’s packet enters into NEW state in Netfilter.

Then server sends a SYN+ACK back to the client, and now it’s client turn to send ACK to the server again. The client is in ESTABLISHED state after sending the ACK.


-A : Append the rule to following chain, in this case INPUT chain

-p : Protocol (In this case TCP)

-m : Which module we want to use. For making Netfilter stateful we will use state module

–state : Identify the state of packet. This argument comes after the -m state

-j : What action Netfilter has to do with the packet ACCEPT / DROP or REJECT

Note: module state is deprecated and you can use conntack module instead, but according to this post state module is valid yet and no need to be worry about it.

In this post I dived into Netfilter stateful packet filtering and tried to reason why ones need to write rules in such order, of course there are so many stones remained unturned. Hopefully I will write more about Iptables/Netfilter.

Enabling LDAP on Linux and local user’s session will interchange with LDAP’s user intermittently

Let’s say you have a central authentication server in a LDAP and you successfully connect your Linux box as a client to LDAP server. Whenever you are using a particular LDAP user to login to your box, your shell get confused and change the LDAP user with a local user of your box intermittently. What is the problem?

for making it crystal clear lets say your local user ID is : 1000 for knowing the id of user in Ubuntu you can run following command :


And this will print out uid, gid and the group id of the user.

Now if you go to your LDAP server and query the same user name  you will notice that his LDAP’s uid is also the same as the local user id 1000.

for solving this problem you either have to change local uid or LDAP uid.

After configuring Ubuntu to use LDAP ssh login become too slow

This is a common symptom of mis behaviour of systemd-logind. I couldn’t still find-out what is really happening underneath of this service but if you experience such issues you can try to restart the service using following command

sudo service systemd-logind restart

and make sure to run this code on the console not just by using ssh.

If anyone knows more about underlying components of systemd-logind please give me some more information about it.

How to install JDK on Ubuntu

Installing Java JDK is easy and straightforward in Windows and OSX but not in Ubuntu. Here is how I am installing JDK on Ubuntu.
Download the latest JDK package from Oracle website. If you don’t know which file to choose you ought to select .tar.gz files whether 32bit or 64bit depends on your requirements.
after download the right package you need to extract it using following command you can extract it :

tar xvf jdk-8u161-linux-x64.tar.gz -C /opt/

Note : In this example I am using JDK version 8 revision 161

The /opt directory is where I chose to extract my JDK.

After extracting my JDK it is time to let Ubuntu know where to look after the Java Development Kit and Java Run Time.

Suppose you want to install your java and javac and javaws executable files in /usr/bin directory :

sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/java java /opt/jdk1.8.0_161/bin/java 1
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/javac javac /opt/jdk1.8.0_161/bin/javac 1
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/javaws javaws /opt/jdk1.8.0_161/bin/javaws 1

After executing update-alternatives its time to set JAVA_HOME. Open /etc/environment file and add following lines to it :

export JAVE_HOME

Then type

source /etc/environment

now in command line if you type

java -version

you will see the result.