Active Directory

Rakim is a GNU/Linux RHEL Sysadmin who works for a large Fortune 500 company. He has been promoted to a new position where he will administer a fleet of 500 GNU/Linux RHEL thin clients and 500 Windows thin clients connected 1 massive GNU/Linux server and one massive Windows server. Generally speaking, all applications on the GNU/Linux thin clients run on the GNU/Linux server, and all applications on the Windows thin clients run on the Windows server.

In your answers below, please use the term "Free Software" vice open source. Please answer the following questions.

  1. What is Active Directory and what it is its purpose?
  2. What is the history of Active Directory?
  3. Are there any Free Software implementations of Active Directory?
  4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of Active Directory?
  5. What functions can Active Directory perform in this network of 1000 thin clients and 2 servers. Please be very detailed and very specific in answering this question.

Active Directory (AD) is a directory service developed by Microsoft for Windows domain networks. It is typically used in environments where Windows is the primary operating system, but it can also manage a mixed environment of Windows and other operating systems like GNU/Linux, which is relevant in Rakim's situation.

Purpose of Active Directory

  1. Centralized Management: It allows for centralized management of network resources like user accounts, computers, printers, and file shares.
  2. Authentication and Authorization: AD stores information about users and their privileges, facilitating login and access control across networked computers.
  3. Policy Implementation: It enables administrators to implement policies for users and computers in the network.
  4. Directory Services: Provides a structured way to store information in a hierarchical and logical manner, such as organizational details, user profiles, and network resource information.

History of Active Directory

  • Development: Introduced with Windows 2000 Server as an extension of earlier directory services.
  • Evolution: Continually evolved with each Windows Server release, adding features like Federation Services, Certificate Services, and Rights Management Services.
  • Adaptation for Diverse Environments: Over time, it has been updated to support mixed network environments, including non-Windows systems.

Free Software Implementations of Active Directory

  • Samba: The most well-known Free Software implementation capable of functioning as an Active Directory domain controller or member. Samba can integrate GNU/Linux systems into an AD environment.
  • FreeIPA: Another solution, often used in GNU/Linux environments, providing centralized authentication, authorization, and account information by storing data about users, groups, hosts, and other objects.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Active Directory


  1. Integration with Windows: Native support for Windows environments.
  2. Scalability: Efficient in large environments.
  3. Mature and Widely Supported: Broad support in terms of tools, utilities, and community knowledge.


  1. Complexity: Can be complex to set up and manage, especially in mixed OS environments.
  2. Cost: Associated with licensing fees for Windows Server.
  3. Potential Lock-in: Designed primarily for Windows, which might limit some functionalities in mixed OS networks.

Functions of Active Directory in the Network of 1000 Thin Clients and 2 Servers

  1. User Management: Centralized creation, modification, and management of user accounts for both Windows and GNU/Linux thin clients.
  2. Authentication Services: Facilitates a single sign-on experience for users irrespective of the client OS.
  3. Policy Deployment: Implementing group policies for Windows clients and potentially using Samba to extend some policies to GNU/Linux clients.
  4. Resource Allocation: Managing access to resources on both the massive GNU/Linux and Windows servers, including file shares and printers.
  5. Security and Compliance: Managing password policies, auditing, and ensuring compliance with company security standards.
  6. Network Services: Integrating DNS, DHCP, and other network services for seamless operation across the network.
  7. Group Management: Organizing users into groups for easier management and applying policies to these groups.
  8. Directory Services: Providing a structured directory for storing and accessing information about network resources and users.

In Rakim's case, a thorough understanding of both Windows and GNU/Linux systems will be crucial to effectively manage this mixed environment. The use of Free Software alternatives like Samba can help bridge the gap between these two worlds, allowing for a more cohesive network management experience.

You should also read:

sbin directory

Carla is studying to become a RHEL Sysadmin. Please teach her about the sbin directory by answering the following questions. Please use the…