Using LDAP & Autofs to centralize logins & home directories w/Snow Leopard & Ubuntu 9.10

Avid readers of the Mr. Backup blog may be wondering what this has to do with backup, so let me get that out of the way right now.  I have three Macs (including one MacBook) at home and everyone in my family logs into each one of them.  I’d like the Macs to just be images and not not have any files that I need to back up on them.  I want all those files in a central place — mainly my Ubuntu 9.10 Linux server.  I also want to be able to centrally maintain user files, passwords, etc. without having to re-enter them when I re-image a box.  So that’s what this has to do with backup.

In addition, I spent way too much effort trying to do this, and the docs that are out there are collectively a mess.  They’re either outdated, not outdated but wrong, assume you know something that you don’t, or just non-existent.  What should have taken me an evening took about a week of hand wringing, head banging, and coffee slamming. So I’m hoping that this set of web pages will keep some poor soul from having to do the same.

Many thanks to all those web pages out there (referenced in this procedure where appropriate), and to my new Twitter buddies @tcom, @ericsiebert, @ibps & @ewantoo for their help in figuring this all out.  I couldn’t have done it without you.
Continue reading