15.12. Managing Deleted Entries with Replication

When an entry is deleted, it is not immediately removed from the database. Rather, it is converted into a tombstone entry, a kind of backup entry that is used by servers in replication to resolve specific conflicts (orphaned entries). The tombstone entry is the original entry with a modified DN, an added nsTombstone object class, but the attributes are removed from the index.
Tombstones are not preserved indefinitely. A purge job is run periodically, at a specified interval (set in the nsDS5ReplicaTombstonePurgeInterval attribute); the purge removes old tombstone entries. Tombstone entries are saved for a given amount of time (set in the nsDS5ReplicaPurgeDelay attribute); once a tombstone entry is older than the delay period, it is reaped at the next purge job.
Both the purge delay and the purge interval are set on the replica entry in the cn=replica,cn=replicated suffix,cn=mapping tree,cn=config configuration entry. There are two considerations when defining the purge settings for replication:
  • The purge operation is time-consuming, especially if the server handles a lot of delete operations. Do not set the purge interval too low or it could consume too many server resources and affect performance.
  • Suppliers use change information, including tombstone entries, to prime replication after initialization. There should be enough of a backlog of changes to effectively re-initialize consumers and to resolve replication conflicts. Do not set the purge delay (the age of tombstone entries) too low or you could lose information required to resolve replication conflicts.
    Set the purge delay so that it is slightly longer than the longest replication schedule in the replication topology. For example, if the longest replication interval is 24 hours, keep tombstone entries around for 25 hours. This ensures that there is enough change history to initialize consumers and prevent the data stored in different suppliers from diverging.
When you use the dsconf replication set command, the --repl-tombstone-purge-interval=seconds option sets the nsDS5ReplicaTombstonePurgeInterval attribute and the --repl-purge-delay=seconds option the nsDS5ReplicaPurgeDelay attribute.
For example, to set the tombstone purge interval to 43200 (12 hours) and the replica purge delay to 90000 (25 hours):
# dsconf -D "cn=Directory Manager" ldap://supplier.example.com replication set \
     --repl-tombstone-purge-interval=43200 --repl-purge-delay=90000


To clean up the tombstone entries and the state information immediately, set a very small value to the nsDS5ReplicaTombstonePurgeInterval and nsDS5ReplicaPurgeDelay attributes. Both attributes have values set in seconds, so the purge operations can be initiated almost immediately.


Always use the purge intervals to clean out tombstone entries from the database. Never delete tombstone entries manually.