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shelldap - Man Page

A program for interacting with an LDAP server via a shell-like interface


Shelldap /LDAP::Shell is a program for interacting with an LDAP server via a shell-like interface.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive LDAP editing and browsing interface, but rather an intuitive shell for performing basic LDAP tasks quickly and with minimal effort.


 shelldap --server example.net [--help]


 - Upon successful authenticated binding, credential information is
   auto-cached to ~/.shelldap.rc -- future loads require no command line

 - Custom 'description maps' for entry listings.  (See the 'list' command.)

 - History and autocomplete via readline, if installed.

 - Automatic reconnection attempts if the connection is lost with the
   LDAP server.

 - Basic schema introspection for quick reference.

 - It feels like a semi-crippled shell, making LDAP browsing and editing
   at least halfway pleasurable.


All command line options follow getopts long conventions.

    shelldap --server example.net --basedn dc=your,o=company

You may also optionally create a ~/.shelldap.rc file with command line defaults.  This file should be valid YAML.  (This file is generated automatically on a successful bind auth.)


    server: ldap.example.net
    binddn: cn=Manager,dc=your,o=company
    bindpass: xxxxxxxxx
    basedn: dc=your,o=company
    tls: yes
    tls_cacert: /etc/ssl/certs/cacert.pem
    tls_cert:   ~/.ssl/client.cert.pem 
    tls_key:    ~/.ssl/private/client.key.pem

Optional.  Use an alternate configuration file, instead of the default ~/.shelldap.rc.

    --configfile /tmp/alternate-config.yml
    -f /tmp/alternate-config.yml

This config file overrides values found in the default config, so you can easily have separate config files for connecting to your cn=monitor or cn=log overlays (for example.)


Required. The LDAP server to connect to.  This can be a hostname, IP address, or a URI.

    --server ldaps://ldap.example.net
    -H ldaps://ldap.example.net
    -h hostname_or_IP

The full dn of a user to authenticate as.  If not specified, defaults to an anonymous bind.  You will be prompted for a password.

    --binddn cn=Manager,dc=your,o=company
    -D cn=Manager,dc=your,o=company

The directory 'root' of your LDAP server.  If omitted, shelldap will try and ask the server for a sane default.

    --basedn dc=your,o=company
    -b dc=your,o=company

Integer.  If enabled, shelldap will attempt to use server side pagination to build listings.  Note: if you're using this to avoid sizelimit errors, you'll likely need server configuration to raise the limits for paginated results.

  --paginate 100

Force password prompting.  Useful to temporarily override cached credentials.


A space separated list of SASL mechanisms.  Requires the Authen::SASL module.


SASL authorization identity, if one is explicitly required by your backend mechanism.

    --sasluser mahlon
    -X mahlon

Enables TLS over what would normally be an insecure connection. Requires server side support.


Specify CA Certificate to trust.

    --tls_cacert /etc/ssl/certs/cacert.pem

The TLS client certificate.

    --tls_cert ~/.ssl/client.cert.pem

The TLS client key.  Not specifying a key will connect via TLS without key verification.

    --tls_key ~/.ssl/private/client.key.pem

Set the time to cache directory lookups in seconds.

By default, directory lookups are cached for 300 seconds, to speed autocomplete up when changing between different basedns.

Modifications to the directory automatically reset the cache.  Directory listings are not cached.  (This is just used for autocomplete.)  Set it to 0 to disable caching completely.


Set the maximum time an LDAP operation can take before it is cancelled.


Print extra operational info out, and backtrace on fatal error.


Display the version number.

Shell Commands


Define or display aliases.

Without arguments, `alias' prints the list of aliases in the reusable form `alias NAME=VALUE' on standard output.

Otherwise, an alias is defined for each NAME whose VALUE is given. A trailing space in VALUE causes the next word to be checked for alias substitution when the alias is expanded.

    alias ll=ls -al
    alias ll
    alias show=cat
    alias cmd1=command 'arg with spaces'
    alias cmd2='command '
    alias cmd2=command 'with_arg '


Print contents of LDAP entry to STDOUT in LDIF format.

Globbing is supported. Specify either full DN, or a RDN. RDNs are local to the current search base ('cwd' in shell terms). If RDN is '.' or missing, it defaults to the current search base. You may additionally add a list of attributes to display (e.g. use '+' for operational attributes or provide a specific space-separated list). Default list of attributes is ['*'] and this default list can be changed using 'attributes' config key or --attributes cmdline option.

    cat uid=mahlon
    cat ou=*
    cat uid=mahlon,ou=People,dc=example,o=company
    cat uid=mahlon + userPassword


Load or save config file.

If no config file is specified as argument to 'load', the default search list is:


If no config file is specified as argument to 'save', the default path is $HOME/.shelldap.rc.

    configfile load
    configfile load /path/to/config
    configfile save
    configfile save /path/to/config


Like 'cat', but use configured pager to paginate output.


Change the working directory (LDAP search base).

Translated to LDAP, this changes the current basedn. All commands after a 'cd' operate within the new basedn.

    cd                  change to 'home' (binddn if any, or basedn)
    cd ~                change to 'home' (binddn if any, or basedn)
    cd -                change to previous node
    cd ou=People        change to explicit path below current node
    cd ..               change to parent node
    cd ../../ou=Groups  change to node ou=Groups, which is a sibling
                        to the current node's grandparent

Since LDAP doesn't limit what can be a container object, you can 'cd' into any entry. Many commands then work on '.' or default to '.', meaning "wherever I currently am."

    cd uid=mahlon
    cat .


Clear the terminal screen.

Clears screen similar to 'clear' or Ctrl+l on the shell command line.

Ctrl+l alias is also supported.


Copy an entry.

All copies are relative to the current basedn unless a full DN is specified.  All attributes are copied and then an LDAP moddn() is performed.

    copy uid=mahlon uid=bob
    copy uid=mahlon ou=Others,dc=example,o=company
    copy uid=mahlon,ou=People,dc=example,o=company uid=mahlon,ou=Others,dc=example,o=company


Create an entry.

Arguments are space separated objectClass names.  Possible objectClasses are derived automatically from the server, and will tab-complete.

After the classes are specified, an editor will launch.  Required attributes are listed first, then optional attributes.  Optionals are commented out.  After the editor exits, the resulting LDIF is validated and added to the LDAP directory.

    create top person organizationalPerson inetOrgPerson posixAccount


Remove an entry.

Globbing is supported. All deletes are sanity-prompted.  The -v flag prints the entries out for review before delete.

    delete uid=mahlon
    delete uid=ma*
    rm -v uid=mahlon,ou=People,dc=example,o=company l=office


Edit an entry in an external editor.

After the editor exits, the resulting LDIF is sanity checked, and changes are written to the LDAP directory.

    edit uid=mahlon


Print values of configurable shelldap variables.

This is a subset of all variables configurable via shelldap config file and/or its command line options.


Search using LDAP filters and return matching DN results.

The search string must be a valid LDAP filter.

    grep uid=mahlon
    grep uid=mahlon ou=People
    grep -r (&(uid=mahlon)(objectClass=*))


View schema and flags for an entry or objectClass.

It also includes the most common flags for the objectClass attributes.

    inspect uid=mahlon
    inspect posixAccount organizationalUnit
    inspect _schema

The output is a list of found objectClasses, their schema hierarchy (up to 'top'), whether or not they are a structural class, and then a merged list of all valid attributes for the given objectClasses. Attributes are marked as either required or optional, and whether they allow multiple values or not.

If you ask for the special "_schema" object, the raw server schema is dumped to screen.


List directory contents.

Globbing is supported.

    ls -l
    ls -lR uid=mahlon
    list uid=m*

In 'long' mode, descriptions are listed as well, if they exist. There are some default 'long listing' mappings for common objectClass types.  You can additionally specify your own mappings in your .shelldap.rc, like so:

        objectClass: attributename
        posixAccount: gecos
        posixGroup: gidNumber
        ipHost: ipHostNumber


Create a new 'organizationalUnit' LDAP entry.

  mkdir containername
  mkdir ou=whatever


Move (rename) entry.

Usage is identical to copy.


Change user password.

If supported server side, change the password for a specified entry. The entry must have a 'userPassword' attribute.

    passwd uid=mahlon


Print name of current/working LDAP search base.


Change or define shelldap variable.

    setenv debug 1
    export debug=1


Remove each NAME from the list of defined aliases.

    alias ll=ls -al
    unalias ll
    unalias ll ls


Remove each NAME from the list of defined shelldap variables.

    unset debug
    unset configfile
    unset myvar1 myvar2 myvar3


Print current bind DN.

Show current auth credentials.  Unless you specified a binddn, this will just show an anonymous bind.


Referral support.  Currently, if you try to write to a replicant slave, you'll just get a referral.  It would be nice if shelldap automatically tried to follow it.

For now, it only makes sense to connect to a master if you plan on doing any writes.

Add ability for command definitions in cmd_map to contain default arguments passed to functions.

Then add ability to define custom commands/aliases in config file.

Split 'inspect' into separate commands, one working on files/entries, and one working on objectclasses. This way, autocompleter for both commands will be reasonable, unlike now.

Bugs / Limitations

There is no support for editing binary data.  If you need to edit base64 stuff, just feed it to the regular ldapmodify/ldapadd/etc tools.


Mahlon E. Smith <mahlon@martini.nu>


2024-01-27 perl v5.38.2 User Contributed Perl Documentation