Redbrick User management tool
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Cian Butler e8b99aa7ed
Revert "Remove Deprecation & Convert Docs to Markdown" (#67)
7 months ago
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useradm fix liniting errors (#40) 3 years ago
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This tool has become more trouble than it’s worth to continually work on. Useradm remains in production in its current state for the time being, but will eventually be superceded by redbrick/rb-ldap. Please contact with any questions.


CircleCI Code Climate

Modular Python User Management Tool

Useradm is used to manage Redbrick’s membership.

Testing RRS

To test rrs run


Then open localhost:8000/rrs.cgi


New User Creation

  1. Queries DCU’s AD server for User information:

    • Fullname
    • Student ID
    • DCU altmail
    • Course of Study
    • Year of Study.
  2. Asks user for nickname, queries if nick exists in Redbrick LDAP.

  3. If the user doesn’t exist.

Renew User

Installation Manual:

Cillian Sharkey, CASE3, 50716197

  1. Introduction
  2. Pre-requisites
    1. Requirements for all setups
    2. Requirements for main setup
    3. Requirements for web setup
  3. Installation
    1. Installing software
    2. Setting up database
  4. Configuration


There are essentially two kinds of setups for RRS:

  • Main setup - this is the setup of the machine where the user database and accounts permanently reside. There is at a minimum, full use of useradm for both database and account administration.
  • Web setup - this is the machine used for hosting the clubs & societies day system. Full use of the rrs cgi for database administration and limited use of useradm for database only administration.

Note that the web setup could also be used on the main setup, so that full use of useradm and the rrs cgi would be available.

The installation requirements and steps below will indicate if they only pertain to one of the given setups (‘main’ or ‘web’) above, otherwise it can be assumed that they are required for both types of setup.

It is also worth noting that much of RRS is very specific to the RedBrick and DCU environment and so as such is not designed for widespread use on generic machines. The web setup mentioned above however, is not as specific in its requirements and is intended to be reasonably ‘portable’.


Requirements for all setups


RRS is designed primarily to run on a Unix platform however, it should be possible to run the web interface part on a non-Unix platform although this has not been tested. Note that root (superuser) access is required for performing any account or filesystem operations with useradm, everything else can be performed using a user / unprivileged account (assuming it has access to the user database).


PostgresSQL version 7.2 or higher must be installed. Details on doing this vary depending on the operating system and is outside the scope of this document however, full instructions can be found on the PostgresSQL website.


Python version 3 or higher must be installed. Details on doing this vary depending on the operating system and is outside the scope of this document however, full instructions can be found on the Python website.

The following Python modules are included in the standard Python release, but may need to be installed or configured to work:

  • readline - provides command line editing and completion functionality for useradm. Requires GNU readline to be installed.

The following additional 3rd party Python modules must be installed:

  • PyGresSQL - Python interface to PostgresSQL database. Note that this is actually included in the PostgresSQL database release, however ensure that version 3.2 or later is installed.
  • pyldap - a Python interface to LDAP, and a fork of python-ldap. OpenLDAP > 2.4 is required. This module is currently only used by rebuild_userdb_student and the rebuild_userdb_staff scripts.

Requirements for main setup

Account utilities

The account utilities useradd, usermod and userdel need to be installed. Typically, these are provided as part of the native operating system and have been found to have a consistent interface on Solaris, Linux and NetBSD.


The 3rd party utility setquota must be installed for the manipulation of disk quotas. There appear to be a number of implementations of this command each with different command line syntax for different operating systems. Tested with a setquota utility for Solaris written by David Mitchell of Dept of Computer Science, Sheffield University.


RRS automatically subscribes (and unsubscribes) users to a variety of RedBrick mailing lists, specifically the announce-redbrick, redbrick-newsletter, comittee, rb-admins and admin-discuss lists. For this reason the mailing list software Mailman should be installed with the above mentioned lists created and working. It is not entirely necessary however as “dummy” scripts can be used in place of the add_members and remove_members mailman commands.

Mail Transfer Agent

Any MTA that provides the generic sendmail command line interface will suffice, e.g. Exim, Postfix, Sendmail, etc.

Requirements for web setup


A web server is required for the rrs cgi. Web servers other than Apache should work as the CGI standard is web server independant. Tested against Apache 1.3.26.


Installing software

The installation of RRS simply involves unpacking the RRS distribution tarball in a filesystem location of your choosing. Say you have downloaded the tarball to /tmp/rrs.tar.gz. Installation to the directory /usr/local/rrs is as follows:

cd /usr/local
tar zxf /tmp/rrs.tar.gz

Setting up database

A database userdb needs to be created with the postgres command “createdb userdb” run as the postgres user. For the account setup, the root user will need access to the database. For the web setup, the user the web server runs as will need access to the database. This is achieved by first creating the users if they don’t already exist with the postgres createuser command and making sure that postgres is setup to grant access to the userdb database for these users by appropriate editing of the pg_hba.conf and possibly pg_ident.conf files.

Creating database [main setup]

This step sets up a new database from scratch.

Create the tables for the database:

cat userdb_reserved.sql userdb_staff.sql userdb_students.sql \
userdb_usertypes.sql userdb_users.sql | psql userdb

Make sure that access to these tables is granted to all users who need it. The above scripts include full access for root and SELECT (read only) access for users www and webgroup as this is the default used on the RedBrick system.

Then populate the student, staff and reserved tables by running each of the rebuild scripts, e.g:

$ ./rebuild_userdb_reserved
userdb/reserved: Purge. Populate. Done [45]
$ ./rebuild_userdb_students
userdb/students: Search [19523]. Purge. Populate. Done [19436/19523].
$ ./rebuild_userdb_staff
userdb/staff: Search [1829]. Purge. Populate. Done [397/1829].

Creating database [web setup]

If the web setup is on a seperate machine to the main system machine, the database must be copied across. This can be achieved as follows:

pg_dump -f userdb.dump userdb

copy file userdb.dump to the web machine

psql userdb < userdb.dump

You will need to grant full access to the users table to the user the web server runs as. The GRANT ALL ON users TO <username> SQL command achieves this when run as the owner of the userdb.

An empty rrs.log file needs to be created before any actions can be performed with the web interface. This can be achieved by creating rrs.log in a directory that rrs is installed and making sure the web server user can write to that file:

touch rrs.log
chown www rrs.log


Local configuration can be performed by editing the file. The majority of this configuration file is for providing local account and filesystem location paths to the rbaccount module. The defaults provided are of course suited for the RedBrick system.

At this point, all necessary installation and configuration should be complete for use of RRS.


Our open issues can be found here!