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Using FreeIPA and FreeRadius as a RADIUS based software token OTP system with CentOS/RedHat 7


This article shows how to configure FreeIPA and integrate it in FreeRADIUS to implement a RADIUS based authentication system, which uses its own software token to provide OTP authentication to other, RADIUS compatible, systems (e.g. a VPN server, etc.).

The IPA server is configured as a stand-alone system, with no integration with other directory servers or any other system.

This How To is a intended as sort of brain dump of the steps I took to configure and test RADIUS and IPA with OTP authentication, after I successfully managed to build such a system, and it owes a lot to other guides and posts found in Internet. Some of the more helpful were:

PLEASE NOTE that this set-up uses unencrypted passwords between the client and the authentication server, i.e. password will be trasmitted as CLEAR TEXT, consider this with respect to your environment.

Install a new server

To start from scratch, install a basic CentOS 7 server, selecting a “Infrastructure Server/Identity Management Server” Environment in Software Selection.

IPA Radius 1.png

Ensure that the server is up to date:

[root@ipa ~]# yum install deltarpm
[root@ipa ~]# yum update

Install, configure and test IPA Server

Ensure that we have all the packages we might need for IPA (bind and bind-dyndb-ldap may not be necessary if you don’t plan to use the native DNS server):

[root@ipa ~]# yum install ipa-server bind bind-dyndb-ldap

To avoid naming problems, we are hardcoding the server IP and name in the hosts file:

[root@ipa ~]# echo " ipa.test.org ipa" >>/etc/hosts

Now you can interactively configure the IPA Server:

[root@ipa ~]# ipa-server-install
This program will set up the IPA Server.

This includes:
  * Configure a stand-alone CA (dogtag) for certificate management
  * Configure the Network Time Daemon (ntpd)
  * Create and configure an instance of Directory Server
  * Create and configure a Kerberos Key Distribution Center (KDC)
  * Configure Apache (httpd)

To accept the default shown in brackets, press the Enter key.

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

Do you want to configure integrated DNS (BIND)? [no]:

Note that the chronyd service will be disabled in order to successfully configure and run the NTP daemon ntpd, which is required to guarantee that the system’s time is correct and synchronized with any other device.

For this simple installation, we don’t want to use the integrated DNS, so answer no and then enter the FQDN of this server:

Server host name [ipa.test.org]:

Confirm the domain name

Please confirm the domain name [test.org]:

And the realm name

Please provide a realm name [TEST.ORG]:

Now you must enter the passwords for the LDAP Directory Server admin user (“cn=Directory Manager”) and for the IPA admin user (admin):

Directory Manager password:
Password (confirm):
IPA admin password:
Password (confirm):

At this point the script will ask for confirmation before proceeding to configure all the systems that comprise the IPA Server:

The IPA Master Server will be configured with:
Hostname:       ipa.test.org
IP address(es):
Domain name:    test.org
Realm name:     TEST.ORG

Continue to configure the system with these values? [no]: yes

From now on, the script will automatically configure and enable all the required subsystems and write the appropriate configuration files at the right place:

The following operations may take some minutes to complete.
Please wait until the prompt is returned.

Configuring NTP daemon (ntpd)


Setup complete

Next steps:
        1. You must make sure these network ports are open:
                TCP Ports:
                  * 80, 443: HTTP/HTTPS
                  * 389, 636: LDAP/LDAPS
                  * 88, 464: kerberos
                UDP Ports:
                  * 88, 464: kerberos
                  * 123: ntp

        2. You can now obtain a kerberos ticket using the command: 'kinit admin'
           This ticket will allow you to use the IPA tools (e.g., ipa user-add)
           and the web user interface.

Be sure to back up the CA certificate stored in /root/cacert.p12
This file is required to create replicas. The password for this file is the Directory Manager password

We now add the required ports to the firewall public zone and then restart the firewall service:

[root@ipa ~]# firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-port=80/tcp --add-port=443/tcp --add-port=389/tcp --add-port=636/tcp --add-port=88/tcp --add-port=464/tcp --add-port=88/udp --add-port=464/udp --add-port=123/udp
[root@ipa ~]# systemctl restart firewalld.service

In order for the IPA Server to work without issues, it is necessary that the time of the server is synchronized to the other devices using its services, which is usually guaranteed by a correctly configured NTP server (ntpd). You can check your NTP server status with this command:

[root@ipa ~]# ntpdc -c sysinfo
system peer:          0.centos.pool.ntp.org
system peer mode:     client
leap indicator:       00
stratum:              3
precision:            -22
root distance:        0.01346 s
root dispersion:      8.23227 s
reference ID:         []
reference time:       d9cba569.5342443b  Fri, Oct 16 2015 18:33:45.325
system flags:         auth ntp stats
jitter:               0.000000 s
stability:            0.000 ppm
broadcastdelay:       0.000000 s
authdelay:            0.000000 s

If the NTP server is up and running fine, you will see a low number in the stratum row.

Now, if everything is correctly configured and running, you should be able to reach the web management interface at https://ipa.test.org/ (you could have to add an exception for the server certificate, since it will be self-signed…):

IPA Radius2.png

You can now login with the admin user and the password you entered in the setup script, and reach the Users management page:

IPA Radius3.png

Here you can add a new user (which we will call test) with the +Add button at the top right of the page:

IPA Radius4.png

Now logout as Administrator and login as user test. The system should ask you to pick a new password

IPA Radius5.png

and then login. In the test user’s details page, you can add an OTP Token with the Action dropdown button and the Add OTP Token button

IPA Radius6.png

You will have to choose the type of the new token (Time-based TOTP or Counter-based HOTP) and an appropriate description, and then the system will show a QR code which can be used to configure most software token application by simply scanning it within the app in your smartphone:

IPA Radius7.png

Please be aware that, as of now, there is a bug in the FreeIPA version (4.1.0-18) released with CentOS 7 which causes the Google Authenticator to fail recognize the QR code, so you may want to use the FreeOTP app by RedHat which works. The problem lies in the casing of the SHA protocol encoded in the QR code: IPA uses lower case (sha) while Google Authenticator requires upper case (SHA).

In order to fix this bug, you will have to modify two files distributed with the ipa-server package:

  • in /usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages/ipalib/plugins/otptoken.py change
            doc=_('Token hash algorithm'),
            values=(u'sha1', u'sha256', u'sha384', u'sha512'),


            doc=_('Token hash algorithm'),
            values=(u'SHA1', u'SHA256', u'SHA384', u'SHA512'),
  • in /usr/share/ipa/ui/js/freeipa/app.js change



Before trying the newly set up token, you must login as admin, enable the Two factor authentication type in the test user setting, and update the user’s profile with the Update button:

IPA Radius8.png

Now you should be able to login as user test by adding to the standard password the code provided by the OTP app (es. FreeOTP) (i.e. if the test user’s password is “password” and FreeOTP shows 762405, you should enter “password762405” in the password field):

IPA Radius9.png

If everything up to now is working as expected, you can proceed with the installation and configuration of the RADIUS frontend.

Install, configure and test RADIUS Server as a frontend to IPA

As a prerequisite, you must install the required freeradius packages (we won’t need freeradius-krb5, but we’ll install it just in case…):

[root@ipa ~]# yum install freeradius freeradius-utils freeradius-ldap freeradius-krb5

In order to configure the RADIUS server to authenticate with the software token provided by the IPA server, we must let RADIUS accept requests from your clients (including the IPA server itself), enable the default configuration to search for users in the IPA server with LDAP protocol and try to authenticate them with an LDAP bind() operation.

All the RADIUS configuration files are in /etc/raddb, and most of the configuration is done by linking files from the mod-available directory to mod-enabled and then editing them as needed.

As a first step, add the following lines at the beginning of clients.conf:

client localnet {
        ipaddr =
        proto = *
        secret = somesecret
        nas_type = other<------># localhost isn't usually a NAS...
        limit {
                max_connections = 16
                lifetime = 0
                idle_timeout = 30

In sites-enabled/default and sites-enabled/inner-tunnel replace these line

        #  The ldap module reads passwords from the LDAP database.

with these

        #  The ldap module reads passwords from the LDAP database.
        if ((ok || updated) && User-Password) {
            update {
                control:Auth-Type := ldap

and uncomment the following lines

#       Auth-Type LDAP {
#               ldap
#       }

As a last step, enable and configure the LDAP backend in RADIUS.

Add LDAP to the enabled mods:

[root@ipa raddb]# ln -s /etc/raddb/mods-available/ldap /etc/raddb/mods-enabled/
[root@ipa raddb]#

Edit mods-enable/ldap to change

        server = "ldap.rrdns.example.org ldap.rrdns.example.org ldap.example.org"


#       base_dn = "dc=example,dc=org"


        server = "ipa.test.org"


        base_dn = "dc=test,dc=org"

To reach the RADIUS server from other clients, we must also open the firewall for the required ports:

[root@ipa ~]# firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-port=1812/udp --add-port=1813/udp
[root@ipa ~]# systemctl restart firewalld.service
[root@ipa ~]#

Now we can test our RADIUS serve by starting in debug mode with

[root@ipa ~]# radiusd –X
Listening on auth address * port 1812 as server default
Listening on acct address * port 1813 as server default
Listening on auth address :: port 1812 as server default
Listening on acct address :: port 1813 as server default
Listening on auth address port 18120 as server inner-tunnel
Opening new proxy socket 'proxy address * port 0'
Listening on proxy address * port 36752
Ready to process requests

Open another shell to ipa.test.org and test the RADIUS server:

[root@ipa ~]# radtest test password123456 ipa.test.org 1812 somesecret
Sending Access-Request Id 105 from to
        User-Name = 'test'
        User-Password = ' password123456'
        NAS-IP-Address =
        NAS-Port = 1812
        Message-Authenticator = 0x00
Received Access-Accept Id 105 from to length 20
[root@ipa ~]#

If you receive an “Access-Accept” response, you are ready to go, just stop the debug server with ctrl-c, enable the server daemon and start it:

Listening on proxy address * port 35327
Ready to process requests
[root@ipa ~]# systemctl enable radiusd
ln -s '/usr/lib/systemd/system/radiusd.service' '/etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/radiusd.service'
[root@ipa ~]# systemctl start radiusd.service
[root@ipa ~]#