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Exporting and Restoring data from ApacheDS

<2018-12-25 Tue>

I am using ApacheDS as the LDAP server and find I should export the data out from it or restore the exported data into it under some circumstances:

Though ApacheDS provides a desktop application based on Eclipse RCP, the Apache Directory Studio, to manage the ApacheDS server and the data in it, it doesn't provide a tool to do this automatically. So we could resort to the commands in the ldap-utils package. This package offers many commands to interact with a LDAP server, includes:

To resolve our problems, we can use ldapsearch to export the data, and ldapadd to restore the data.

To export the data, it is quite straightforward:

ldapsearch -LLL -h localhost -p 10389\
           -D "uid=admin,ou=system" -w secrete \
           -b "dc=example,dc=com" -s sub "(ObjectClass=*)" >data.ldif

With -LLL we tell ldapsearch to display data in the LDIF(LDAP Data Interchange Format) format, then we give the host and port of the server, the bind DN and the password of the user, the search base and the search scope, and finally an attribute filter which will match all the nodes to the command. To store the exported data, we redirect the stdout of the command to a file at the end of the command.

The data is now successfully exported, but before talking about how to restore it, let's recall what we did while setting up the ApacheDS server:

  1. Download it, unzip it, start it.
  2. Create a partition, using Apache Directory Studio is the easiest way to do it.
  3. Restart the server to make the new partition ready.
  4. Update the system settings of the server if needed.
  5. Create our own schema(commonly, attribute types and object classes).

Before restoring the exported data, we should set up a new server instance by these steps first. Then we can do the restoring using ladpadd like this:

ldapadd -h -p 10389 \
        -D "uid=admin,ou=system" -w secret \
        -f /path/to/data.ldif -c

But many errors will be encountered while running this command. Inside the ApacheDS server, the data is organized as trees. So a parent node must be specified while creating a new node. This requires that the parent node of a certain node must have been restored while it is going to be restored. On the other hand, the command ldapadd adds new nodes in the order of how the nodes are stored in the LDIF file, and the parent-fist order is not guaranteed by ldapsearch. So errors happen when ldapadd creates nodes whose parent are not created yet.

There are two ways to resolve this problem:

The first one is crude: We run the ldapadd command multiple times with the option -c.

The second one is a little more elegant than the first one, but still simple: we first sort the exported data, then import it. Here is a perl script to sort the data in the LDIF file:

#!/usr/bin/env perl

use v5.12;
use MIME::Base64;

my $all_nodes = {};
my $all_dn =[];
my $current_node = "";
my $current_dn = "";
my $dn_just_assigned = 0;

while(<>) {
    $current_node .= $_;
    if(m/^\s+$/) {
        $all_nodes->{$current_dn} = $current_node;
        push @$all_dn, $current_dn;
        $current_node = "";
        $current_dn = "";
    if(m/^dn::?\s(.*)$/) {
        $current_dn = $1;
        $dn_just_assigned = 1;
    if($dn_just_assigned) {
        $current_dn .= $1 if(m/^\s+(.+)/);
        $current_dn = decode_base64($current_dn) if index($current_dn, ",") < 0;
        $dn_just_assigned = 0;

$all_dn = [sort {length $a <=> length $b} @$all_dn];
print $all_nodes->{$_} foreach(@$all_dn);

Save it as and run it: /path/to/data.ldif > data-sorted.ldif

Then restore the data by running the below command for only once:

ldapadd -h -p 10389 \
        -D "uid=admin,ou=system" -w secret \
        -f /path/to/data-sorted.ldif -c

If all goes well, you will have got what you want at this point.

Good luck with ApacheDS and Apache Directory Studio.

Have few questions or feedback? Feel free to send me(zhuoql📧 an email!


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