A Lua interface to an LDAP library


LuaLDAP is a simple interface from Lua to an LDAP client, in fact it is a bind to OpenLDAP client or ADSI client

LuaLDAP defines one single global variable: a table called lualdap. This table holds the functions used to create an LDAP connection object.

A connection object offers methods to perform any operation on the directory such as comparing values, adding new entries, modifying attributes on existing entries, removing entries, and the most common of all: searching. Entries are represented as Lua tables; attributes are its fields. The attribute values can be strings or tables of strings (used to represent multiple values).

LuaLDAP is a bind to the OpenLDAP library or to ADSI library and it depends on a previous installation of any of this libraries. You can download OpenLDAP from the OpenLDAP download page. ADSI is included on Windows 2000 or newer. Windows NT/Me/98/95 requires an Active Directory Client Extension


LuaLDAP could be built to Lua 5.0 or to Lua 5.1. In both cases, the language library and headers files for the target version must be installed properly.

LuaLDAP offers a Makefile and a separate configuration file, config, which should be edited to suit your installation before runnig make. The file has some definitions like paths to the external libraries, compiler options and the like. One important definition is the version of Lua language, which is not obtained from the installed software.


The LuaLDAP compiled binary should be copied to a directory in your C path. Lua 5.0 users should install Compat-5.1 also.

Windows users of ADSI can use the binary versions of LuaLDAP (lualdap.dll) available at LuaForge.

Representing attributes

Many LDAP operations manage sets of attributes and values. LuaLDAP provides a uniform way of representing them by using Lua tables. The table attributes can be Lua string, a binary string (a string of bits), or table of n values indexed from 1 to n. Some operations have different approaches that will be explained as necessary.

Here is a simple example:

entry = {
    an_attribute = "a value",
    other_attribute = {
        "first value of other attribute",
        "another value of other attribute",
Attribute names cannot contain the '\0' character.

Distinguished names

The distinguished name (DN) is the term used to identify an entry on the directory information tree. It is formed by the relative distinguished name (RDN) of the entry and the distinguished name of its parent. LuaLDAP will always use a string to represent the DN of any entry.

A more precise definition can be found on the LDAP documentation. A list of some of these files can be found in Related documentation section.

Initialization functions

LuaLDAP provides a single way to connect to an LDAP server:

lualdap.open_simple (hostname, who, password, usetls)
Initializes a session with an LDAP server. This function requires a hostname, accordingly to the C LDAP API definition ("hostname contains a space-separated list of hostnames or dotted strings representing the IP address of hosts running an LDAP server to connect to. Each hostname in the list MAY include a port number which is separated from the host itself with a colon (:) character."). The argument who should be the distinguished name of the entry that has the password to be checked against the third argument, password. The optional argument usetls is a Boolean flag indicating if Transport Layer Security (TLS) should be used.
Returns a connection object if the operation was successful. In case of error it returns nil followed by an error string.

Connection objects

A connection object offers methods which implement LDAP operations. Almost all of them need a distinguished name to identify the entry on which the operation will be executed.

These methods execute asynchronous operations and return a function that should be called to obtain the results. The called functions will return true indicating the success of the operation. The only exception is the compare function which can return either true or false (as the result of the comparison) on a successful operation.

There are two types of errors: API errors, such as wrong parameters, absent connection etc.; and LDAP errors, such as malformed DN, unknown attribute etc. API errors will raise a Lua error, while LDAP errors will be reported by the function/method returning nil plus the error message provided by the OpenLDAP client.

A connection object can be created by calling the Initialization function.


conn:add (distinguished_name, table_of_attributes)
Adds a new entry to the directory with the given attributes and values.
Closes the connection conn.
conn:compare (distinguished_name, attribute, value)
Compares a value to an entry.
conn:delete (distinguished_name)
Deletes an entry from the directory.
conn:modify (distinguished_name, table_of_operations*)
Changes the values of attributes in the given entry. The tables of operations are tables of attributes with the value on index 1 indicating the operation to be performed. The valid operations are:
  • '+' to add the values to the attributes
  • '-' to delete the values of the attributes
  • '=' to replace the values of the attributes
Any number of tables of operations will be used in a single LDAP modify operation.
conn:rename (distinguished_name, new_relative_dn, new_parent)
Changes an entry name (i.e. change its distinguished name).
conn:search (table_of_search_parameters)
Performs a search operation on the directory. The parameters are described below:

a string or a list of attribute names to be retrieved (default is to retrieve all attributes).
a Boolean value that must be either false (default) if both attribute names and values are to be retrieved, or true if only names are wanted.
The distinguished name of the entry at which to start the search.
A string representing the search filter as described in The String Representation of LDAP Search Filters (RFC 2254).
A string indicating the scope of the search. The valid strings are: "base", "onelevel" and "subtree". The empty string ("") and nil will be treated as the default scope.
The maximum number of entries to return (default is no limit).
The timeout in seconds (default is no timeout). The precision is microseconds.

The search method will return a search iterator which is a function that requires no arguments. The search iterator is used to get the search result and will return a string representing the distinguished name and a table of attributes as returned by the search request.


here is a some sample code that demonstrate the basic use of the library.

require "lualdap"

ld = assert (lualdap.open_simple ("ldap.server",

for dn, attribs in ld:search { base = "ou=people,dc=ldap,dc=world" } do
    io.write (string.format ("\t[%s]\n", dn))
    for name, values in pairs (attribs) do
        io.write ("[""] : ")
        if type (values) == "string" then
            io.write (values)
        elseif type (values) == "table" then
            local n = table.getn(values)
            for i = 1, (n-1) do
                io.write (values[i]..",")
            io.write (values[n])
        io.write ("\n")

ld:add ("mydn=newuser,ou=people,dc=ldap,dc=world", {
    objectClass = { "", "", },
    mydn = "newuser",
    abc = "qwerty",
    tel = { "123456758", "98765432", },
    givenName = "New User",

ld:modify {"mydn=newuser,ou=people,dc=ldp,dc=world",
    { '=', givenName = "New", cn = "New", sn = "User", },
    { '+', o = { "University", "College", },
           mail = "", },
    { '-', abc = true, tel = "123456758", },
    { '+', tel = "13579113", },

ld:delete ("mydn=newuser,ou=people,dc=ldp,dc=world")()

Related documentation

Valid XHTML 1.0!

$Id: manual.html,v 1.34 2007-12-14 16:46:15 carregal Exp $