How To Install and Configure FreeIPA Client on Ubuntu 20.04

In this article, we will learn how to install and configure freeipa client on Ubuntu 20.04.

FreeIPA is an open source Identity management system sponsored by Red Hat. It aims to provide an easily managed Identity, Policy, and Audit.

This integrations allow a System Administrator to conveniently configure the server centrally, on the FreeIPA server. When a management command is executed on the Client machine, the FreeIPA client sends it to the server where it is executed.

# Prerequisites

To follow along, ensure you have the following

  • An updated Ubuntu 20.04 server/Workstation
  • A FreeIPA Server that the client will join
  • Sudo access to the server or user with sudo access
  • Internet access from the sever

# Table of Content

  1. Update system
  2. Installing FreeIPA packages
  3. Setting up the Client
  4. Enable Creation of home directories on the first Login
  5. Test Client Addition
  6. Using FreeIPA ipa Command Line Management Tool
  7. Enable Passwordless Authentication using Private Key
  8. Removing FreeIPA Client

# 1. Update system

Ensure that the system packages are updated

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

# 2. Installing FreeIPA packages

FreeIPA client is available on repositories for Ubuntu. Install it using the command:

sudo apt install -y freeipa-client

When prompted to provide a Kerberos realm for the server, just skip by pressing <**Enter> **key.

Confirm client addition using this command

$ apt-cache policy freeipa-client
  Installed: 4.8.6-1ubuntu2
  Candidate: 4.8.6-1ubuntu2
  Version table:
 *** 4.8.6-1ubuntu2 500
        500 focal/universe amd64 Packages
        100 /var/lib/dpkg/status

# 2. Seting up client

Once the installation of the FreeIPA Client packages is complete. Add hostname and IP address of your IPA Server to **/etc/hosts **file if you don’t have a working DNS resolution.

Open the hosts file with your client:

sudo vim <meta charset="utf-8">/etc/hosts

Then append this:

Set your system hostname.

sudo hostnamectl set-hostname

Update the timezone to your timezone:

sudo timedatectl set-timezone Africa/Nairobi

We can then setup client with specifying FreeIPA server and domain name

sudo ipa-client-install --domain

You can also add more arguments specifying the ipa client hostname, server, domain and realm like in this example.

sudo ipa-client-install \
 --mkhomedir \ \
 --domain \

This is my output. You should see something similar to this

$ sudo ipa-client-install --domain
This program will set up FreeIPA client.
Version 4.8.6

WARNING: conflicting time&date synchronization service 'ntp' will be disabled in favor of chronyd

Autodiscovery of servers for failover cannot work with this configuration.
If you proceed with the installation, services will be configured to always access the discovered server for all operations and will not fail over to other servers in case of failure.
Proceed with fixed values and no DNS discovery? [no]: yes
Do you want to configure chrony with NTP server or pool address? [no]: no
Client hostname:
DNS Domain:
IPA Server:
BaseDN: dc=ipa,dc=citizix,dc=com

Continue to configure the system with these values? [no]: yes
Synchronizing time
No SRV records of NTP servers found and no NTP server or pool address was provided.
Using default chrony configuration.
Attempting to sync time with chronyc.
Time synchronization was successful.
User authorized to enroll computers: admin
Password for admin@IPA.CITIZIX.COM:
Successfully retrieved CA cert
    Subject:     CN=Certificate Authority,O=IPA.CITIZIX.COM
    Issuer:      CN=Certificate Authority,O=IPA.CITIZIX.COM
    Valid From:  2021-11-09 05:42:01
    Valid Until: 2041-11-09 05:42:01

Enrolled in IPA realm IPA.CITIZIX.COM
Created /etc/ipa/default.conf
Configured sudoers in /etc/nsswitch.conf
Configured /etc/sssd/sssd.conf
Configured /etc/krb5.conf for IPA realm IPA.CITIZIX.COM
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/
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

# 3. Enable Creation of home directories on the first Login

By default, sssd service will not create a home directory for the user on the first login, we need to enable this feature by modifying PAM configuration file.

sudo bash -c "cat > /usr/share/pam-configs/mkhomedir" <<EOF
Name: activate mkhomedir
Default: yes
Priority: 900
Session-Type: Additional
required umask=0022 skel=/etc/skel

Then run:

sudo pam-auth-update

Ensure¬†¬†‚Äúactivate mkhomedir‚Ä̬†is selected, it should have¬†[*]. Select¬†.

# 4. Test Client addition

To test that the client was added successfully, let us login with a user in freeipa. If its the first time you are logging in, you should see a password change prompt else you will see this:

$ ssh etowett@
(etowett@ Password:
Last login: Sat Nov 13 08:29:12 2021 from

[etowett@ubuntu-client ~]$

# 5. Using FreeIPA ipa Command Line Management Tool

You can administer FreeIPA Server from the client machine using ipa command line tool.

First, obtain a Kerberos ticket.

$ kinit admin
Password for admin@IPA.CITIZIX.COM:

Check ticket expiry information using klist.

$ klist
Ticket cache: KEYRING:persistent:1000:1000
Default principal: admin@IPA.CITIZIX.COM

Valid starting     Expires            Service principal
11/14/21 16:40:33  11/15/21 16:40:16  krbtgt/IPA.CITIZIX.COM@IPA.CITIZIX.COM

Test by adding a user account and listing accounts present:

$ sudo ipa user-add kip \
     --first=Kipkoech \
     --last=Towett \ \

Enter Password again to verify:
Added user "kip"
  User login: kip
  First name: Kipkoech
  Last name: Towett
  Full name: Kipkoech Towett
  Display name: Kipkoech Towett
  Initials: KT
  Home directory: /home/kip
  GECOS: Kipkoech Towett
  Login shell: /bin/bash
  Principal name: kip@IPA.CITIZIX.COM
  Principal alias: kip@IPA.CITIZIX.COM
  User password expiration: 20211112183007Z
  Email address:
  UID: 1063800003
  GID: 1063800003
  Password: True
  Member of groups: ipausers
  Kerberos keys available: True


$ ipa user-find kip
1 user matched
  User login: kip
  First name: Kipkoech
  Last name: Towett
  Home directory: /home/kip
  Login shell: /bin/bash
  Principal name: kip@IPA.CITIZIX.COM
  Principal alias: kip@IPA.CITIZIX.COM
  Email address:
  UID: 1063800003
  GID: 1063800003
  Account disabled: False
Number of entries returned 1

# 6. Enable Passwordless Authentication using Private Key

If you would like to authenticate to a server without a password, copy your Public key to FreeIPA Server. In the User profile, click the **Add **button under “SSH public keys“, paste your public key into the box and save.

# 7. Removing FreeIPA Client

Removal of FreeIPA client on Ubuntu can be done by running the command:

$ sudo ipa-client-install  --uninstall

# Conclusion

In this guide, we managed to install and set up FreeIPA client on a Ubuntu 20.04.

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