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How does a client/user authenticate itself?

Title: How does a client/user authenticate itself?

The only way I tried with authentication is to use the 'rootdn' and 'rootpw', which ignores all authentication and access control policy.

I want to set up a finer granularity of authentication and access control.  I read the access control section in the documentation, but still don't have a clue about how client/user can authenticate himself?  Do I have to use the attribute 'userPassword'?   I have an customized entry containing 'userPassword' attribute.  In ldapsearch I specified option -D <DN of the entry>, and -w <userPassword>,  but it tells me "ldap_bind: Insufficient access".

Do I need to configure slapd to specify which attribute stores password?

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Qingshan Luo