LDAP is an extremely powerful tool for managing information on a network. Although by no means its only possible role, one good way to begin using LDAP is as a cross-platform authentication tool. In order to configure an LDAP server for this role, you must begin by installing a server package, such as OpenLDAP. Much of the tedium of LDAP configuration comes with properly configuring the server; you must set basic server configuration options, enable security options, and create an initial account database backend for the server. Only then can you configure your clients, which is a relatively straightforward task involving setting options in a few configuration files. Windows clients require a helper application, such as pGina, to integrate with an LDAP server, but once this software is installed, these servers can work quite nicely. The result of all this work is integrated Linux/Windows account information and simplified account maintenance, particularly on a mid-sized or large network. On a complex or large network, the savings in day-to-day administrative hassles more than compensates for the time you invest in configuring LDAP.