March 26, 2001, 2:46 PM —
Roaming can really come in handy, as Nick Petreley illustrated in a recent Penguin Brief. It allows you to have your Netscape bookmarks and preferences automatically synchronized and ready to use, wherever you happen to be. In his column, Nick showed us how easy it is to configure Apache to be a roaming server. Here, I'll show you another way to roam, by using OpenLDAP in place of Apache.
Let's look at why you'd want to do this in the first place. When
might it make sense to use an LDAP server (like OpenLDAP) instead of an HTTP
server (like Apache) for roaming? Well, if you have a lot of users already
loaded into an LDAP directory, you might like the simplicity of supporting
roaming profiles in the same place. You would get one-stop shopping for
user information: names, telephone numbers, email addresses, and Web preferences.
You also wouldn't have to deal with setting up a separate HTTP server for roaming.
On the other hand, using an HTTP server for roaming has its advantages. HTTP servers are tuned to work with files, such as bookmarks and other roaming preference files. LDAP servers aren't. Deploying an HTTP server for roaming would divert write traffic associated with uploading preferences away from your LDAP server, possibly preventing a performance bottleneck. And your HTTP roaming server could still use your LDAP server
for username/password authentication (as is the case with the use of Apache's AuthLDAP module, for instance).