3.2. Standard Schema

The directory schema maintains the integrity of the data stored in the directory by imposing constraints on the size, range, and format of data values. The schema reflects decisions about what types of entries the directory contains (like people, devices, and organizations) and the attributes available to each entry.
The predefined schema included with Directory Server contains both the standard LDAP schema as well as additional application-specific schema to support the features of the server. While this schema meets most directory needs, new object classes and attributes can be added to the schema (extending the schema) to accommodate the unique needs of the directory. See Section 3.4, “Customizing the Schema” for information on extending the schema.

3.2.1. Schema Format

Directory Server bases its schema format on version 3 of the LDAP protocol. This protocol requires directory servers to publish their schema through LDAP itself, allowing directory client applications to retrieve the schema programmatically and adapt their behavior accordingly. The global set of schema for Directory Server can be found in the cn=schema entry.
The Directory Server schema differs slightly from the LDAPv3 schema, because it uses its own proprietary object classes and attributes. In addition, it uses a private field in the schema entries, called X-ORIGIN, which describes where the schema entry was defined originally.
For example, if a schema entry is defined in the standard LDAPv3 schema, the X-ORIGIN field refers to RFC 2252. If the entry is defined by Red Hat for the Directory Server's use, the X-ORIGIN field contains the value Netscape Directory Server.
For example, the standard person object class appears in the schema as follows:
objectclasses: ( NAME 'person' DESC 'Standard Person Object Class' SUP top
     MUST (objectclass $ sn $ cn) MAY (description $ seeAlso $ telephoneNumber $ userPassword)
     X-ORIGIN 'RFC 2252' )
This schema entry states the object identifier, or OID, for the class (, the name of the object class (person), a description of the class (Standard Person), and then lists the required attributes (objectclass, sn, and cn) and the allowed attributes (description, seeAlso, telephoneNumber, and userPassword).
For more information about the LDAPv3 schema format, see the LDAPv3 Attribute Syntax Definitions document, RFC 2252, and other standard schema definitions in RFC 247, RFC 2927, and RFC 2307. All of these schema elements are supported in Red Hat Directory Server.

3.2.2. Standard Attributes

Attributes contain specific data elements such as a name or a fax number. Directory Server represents data as attribute-data pairs, a descriptive schema attribute associated with a specific piece of information. These are also called attribute-value assertions or AVAs.
For example, the directory can store a piece of data such as a person's name in a pair with the standard attribute, in this case commonName (cn). So, an entry for a person named Babs Jensen has the attribute-data pair cn: Babs Jensen.
In fact, the entire entry is represented as a series of attribute-data pairs. The entire entry for Babs Jensen is as follows:
dn: uid=bjensen,ou=people,dc=example,dc=com
objectClass: top
objectClass: person
objectClass: organizationalPerson
objectClass: inetOrgPerson
cn: Babs Jensen
sn: Jensen
givenName: Babs
givenName: Barbara
mail: bjensen@example.com
The entry for Babs Jensen contains multiple values for some of the attributes. The givenName attribute appears twice, each time with a unique value.
In the schema, each attribute definition contains the following information:
  • A unique name.
  • An object identifier (OID) for the attribute.
  • A text description of the attribute.
  • The OID of the attribute syntax.
  • Indications of whether the attribute is single-valued or multi-valued, whether the attribute is for the directory's own use, the origin of the attribute, and any additional matching rules associated with the attribute.
For example, the cn attribute definition appears in the schema as follows:
attributetypes: ( NAME 'cn' DESC 'commonName Standard Attribute'
     SYNTAX )
The attribute's syntax defines the format of the values which the attribute allows. In a way, the syntax helps define the kind of information that can be stored in the attribute. The Directory Server supports all standard attribute syntaxes.
Supported LDAP attribute syntaxes are covered in section Directory Server Attribute Syntaxes of the Red Hat Directory Server 10 Configuration, Command, and File Reference.

3.2.3. Standard Object Classes

Object classes are used to group related information. Typically, an object class represents a real object, such as a person or a fax machine. Before it is possible to use an object class and its attributes in the directory, it must be identified in the schema. The directory recognizes a standard list of object classes by default; these are listed and described in the Red Hat Directory Server Configuration, Command, and File Reference.
Each directory entry belongs to at least one object classes. Placing an object class identified in the schema on an entry tells the Directory Server that the entry can have a certain set of possible attribute values and must have another, usually smaller, set of required attribute values.
Object class definitions contain the following information:
  • A unique name.
  • An object identifier (OID) that names the object.
  • A set of mandatory attributes.
  • A set of allowed (or optional) attributes.
For example, the standard person object class appears in the schema as follows:
objectclasses: ( NAME 'person' DESC 'Standard Person Object Class' SUP top
     MUST (objectclass $ sn $ cn) MAY (description $ seeAlso $ telephoneNumber $ userPassword)
     X-ORIGIN 'RFC 2252' )
As is the case for all of the Directory Server's schema, object classes are defined and stored directly in Directory Server. This means that the directory's schema can be both queried and changed with standard LDAP operations.