PaperCut and Active Directory

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All PaperCut products released after 2004 include full native support for Active Directory including support for:

  • Nested groups, and
  • Organizational Units

PaperCut still continues to support older NT style domains.

Common AD Questions

Q How does PaperCut integrate with Active Directory?

PaperCut accesses Active Directory in a read-only way for user authentication and extracting user account metadata such as email address, full name, office, department and group membership. Write access or elevated rights access is not required. When running on a Windows Server PaperCut uses native Active Directory APIs. When running on a Linux or Mac system PaperCut accesses AD via the remote LDAP interface.

PaperCut will never cache user rights credentials (e.g. passwords). In line with security best practice, user authentication is done via real-time interrogation at the moment of authentication. User account metadata (e.g. Full Name) is cached locally to minimize load on the AD server and only queried during:

  • Initial account creation
  • During overnight sync if enabled
  • During a manual user/group sync

Q Does PaperCut support multiple domains?

Yes. PaperCut has multi-domain support and is commonly used in complex tree/forest arrangements.

Q I have a “locked down” Active Directory environment and PaperCut is having problems accessing the AD. How can I fix this?

By default, PaperCut runs as the Local System account. This is generally regarded as best practice for services. The Local System account should have access to query the AD (read-only access) in most default domain environments. If however the server is not a member of the domain (maybe in another domain), or the AD environment has been locked down from defaults, then some further configuration may be required.

The solution is to elevate the privileges used to run the PaperCut Application Server service. This is done under:

Control PanelAdmin ToolsServices

Select the PaperCut Application Server service, then the Logon tab. Change the service account to an account that has both Local Administrator rights and at least read access to the AD. Best practice suggests that you should create a new user account (common convention is to use a name like svcpapercut) and set the accounts password to “never expire”.

Q My users in AD do not list under one of my groups. What is the problem?

This may be caused by the use of the legacy primary group field in AD. The problem is discussed in detail below.

Limitations with Active Directory Primary Groups

In an Active Directory domain, all users have a “Primary Group”, which is only used for legacy reasons and for POSIX compliance. By default, the primary group of all Active Directory users is set to the built-in “Domain Users” group. It is recommended that you leave “Domain Users” as the primary group (Best practice suggested by Microsoft) and use standard groups for management.

Due to a limitation in Active Directory, when a user is a member of a group by virtue of it being the user’s primary group, they are not reported as a member of that group when using the Active Directory APIs.

For example, if a user’s primary group is set to a group called “Staff”, then the user will not appear to be a member of “Staff” when using selected Active Directory APIs.

This limitation is discussed in detail in the following Microsoft Knowledge Base article:

This behavior can adversely affect PaperCut’s group-based features (like quota allocation, or new user creation rules) because the user is not correctly reported as being a member of the group.

For this reason, it is highly recommended to leave “Domain Users” as the primary group for all users of your domain.

Work around:

If you need to use a group in PaperCut that is also used as a primary group, where users are a member of a group by virtue of it being their primary group, then the work around is to create a mirror group.

For example, if you have a group called “Staff” and are unable to use this group because of the primary group problem, create a new group called StaffStandard and add staff members to this group. You can take advantage of Active Directories query system to quick identify and add the staff users. The new group StaffStandard can then accurately be used in PaperCut.

Nested Group Support with Linux/Mac Primary server:

Due to limitations in the various LDAP protocol implementations, Nested Group functionality is not available if you are not using “Windows Active Directory” as a sync source. You will need to use a “Flat Group” instead. We recommend taking this into consideration when opting to use Linux or Mac OS X.

Categories: Domains


Share your findings and experience with other PaperCut users. Feel free to add comments and suggestions about this Knowledge Base article. Please don't use this for support requests.

Article last modified on December 11, 2017, at 08:42 PM
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