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Feature Discovery in Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)
RFC 3674

Document Type RFC - Proposed Standard (December 2003)
Obsoleted by RFC 4512
Was draft-zeilenga-ldap-features (individual in app area)
Author Kurt Zeilenga
Last updated 2018-07-18
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd (None)
IESG IESG state RFC 3674 (Proposed Standard)
Action Holders
Consensus boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Ted Hardie
Send notices to (None)
RFC 3674
Network Working Group                                        K. Zeilenga
Request for Comments: 3674                           OpenLDAP Foundation
Category: Standards Track                                  December 2003

   Feature Discovery in Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2003).  All Rights Reserved.


   The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is an extensible
   protocol with numerous elective features.  This document introduces a
   general mechanism for discovery of elective features and extensions
   which cannot be discovered using existing mechanisms.

1.  Background and Intended Use

   The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) [RFC3377] is an
   extensible protocol with numerous elective features.  LDAP provides
   mechanisms for a client to discover supported protocol versions,
   controls, extended operations, Simple Authentication and Security
   Layer (SASL) mechanisms, and subschema information.  However, these
   mechanisms are not designed to support general feature discovery.

   This document describes a simple, general-purpose mechanism which
   clients may use to discover the set of elective features supported by
   a server.  For example, this mechanism could be used by a client to
   discover whether or not the server supports requests for all
   operational attributes, e.g., "+" [RFC3673].  As another example,
   this mechanism could be used to discover absolute true, e.g., "(&)"
   and false, e.g., "(|)", search filters [T-F] support.

   This document extends the LDAP Protocol Mechanism registry [RFC3383]
   to support registration of values of the supportedFeatures attribute.
   This registry is managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority

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RFC 3674               Feature Discovery in LDAP           December 2003

   Schema definitions are provided using LDAP description formats
   [RFC2252].  Definitions provided here are formatted (line wrapped)
   for readability.

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119].

2.  Discovery of supported features

   Each elective feature whose support may be discovered SHALL be
   identified by an Object Identifier (OID).  A server advertises its
   support for a given feature by providing the OID associated with the
   feature as a value of the 'supportedFeatures' attribute held in the
   root DSE.  A client may examine the values of this attribute to
   determine if a particular feature is supported by the server.  A
   client MUST ignore values it doesn't recognize as they refer to
   elective features it doesn't implement.

   Features associated with Standard Track protocol mechanisms MUST be
   registered.  Features associated with other protocol mechanisms
   SHOULD be registered.  Procedures for registering protocol mechanisms
   are described in BCP 64 [RFC3383].  The word "Feature" should be
   placed in the usage field of the submitted LDAP Protocol Mechanism

   The 'supportedFeatures' attribute type is described as follows:

        NAME 'supportedFeatures'
        DESC 'features supported by the server'
        EQUALITY objectIdentifierMatch
        USAGE dSAOperation )

   Servers MUST be capable of recognizing this attribute type by the
   name 'supportedFeatures'.  Servers MAY recognize the attribute type
   by other names.

3.  Security Considerations

   As rogue clients can discover features of a server by other means
   (such as by trial and error), this feature discovery mechanism is not
   believed to introduce any new security risk to LDAP.

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RFC 3674               Feature Discovery in LDAP           December 2003

4.  IANA Considerations

4.1.  Registration of Features as Protocol Mechanisms

   Future specifications detailing LDAP features are to register each
   feature as a LDAP Protocol Mechanism per guidance given in BCP 64
   [RFC3383].  A usage of "Feature" in a Protocol Mechanism registration
   template indicates that the value to be registered is associated with
   an LDAP feature.

4.2.  Registration of the supportedFeatures descriptor

   The IANA has registered the LDAP 'supportedFeatures' descriptor.  The
   following registration template is suggested:

      Subject: Request for LDAP Descriptor Registration
      Descriptor (short name): supportedFeatures
      Object Identifier:
      Person & email address to contact for further information:
          Kurt Zeilenga <>
      Usage: Attribute Type
      Specification: RFC 3674
      Author/Change Controller: IESG

   This OID was assigned [ASSIGN] by OpenLDAP Foundation under its IANA
   assigned private enterprise allocation [PRIVATE] for use in this

5.  Acknowledgment

   This document is based upon input from the IETF LDAPEXT working

6.  Intellectual Property Statement

   The IETF takes no position regarding the validity or scope of any
   intellectual property or other rights that might be claimed to
   pertain to the implementation or use of the technology described in
   this document or the extent to which any license under such rights
   might or might not be available; neither does it represent that it
   has made any effort to identify any such rights.  Information on the
   IETF's procedures with respect to rights in standards-track and
   standards-related documentation can be found in BCP-11.  Copies of
   claims of rights made available for publication and any assurances of
   licenses to be made available, or the result of an attempt made to
   obtain a general license or permission for the use of such
   proprietary rights by implementors or users of this specification can
   be obtained from the IETF Secretariat.

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RFC 3674               Feature Discovery in LDAP           December 2003

   The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its attention any
   copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary
   rights which may cover technology that may be required to practice
   this standard.  Please address the information to the IETF Executive

7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]     Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
                 Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC2252]     Wahl, M., Coulbeck, A., Howes, T. and S. Kille,
                 "Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (v3):  Attribute
                 Syntax Definitions", RFC 2252, December 1997.

   [RFC3377]     Hodges, J. and R. Morgan, "Lightweight Directory Access
                 Protocol (v3): Technical Specification", RFC 3377,
                 September 2002.

   [RFC3383]     Zeilenga, K., "Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
                 (IANA) Considerations for Lightweight Directory Access
                 Protocol (LDAP)", BCP 64, RFC 3383, September 2002.

7.2.  Informative References

   [RFC3673]     Zeilenga, K., "Lightweight Directory Access Protocol
                 version 3 (LDAPv3): All Operational Attributes", RFC
                 3673, December 2003.

   [T-F]         Zeilenga, K., "LDAP True/False Filters", Work in

   [ASSIGN]      OpenLDAP Foundation, "OpenLDAP OID Delegations",

   [PRIVATE]     IANA, "Private Enterprise Numbers",

8.  Author's Address

   Kurt D. Zeilenga
   OpenLDAP Foundation


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RFC 3674               Feature Discovery in LDAP           December 2003

9.  Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2003).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assignees.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an


   Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
   Internet Society.

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