Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We're developing a .net application, and are about to add authentication to it. We'd like to use Active Directory for this, but are aiming to make this as simple as possible for the test-server used for development.

What does it take to get Active Directory up and running? Can I run it locally on my Win7 installation? I've heard about ADAM and AD LDS, but don't really know the details besides knowing they are lightweight implementations.

So; what's the easiest way to a working Active Directory for testing?

share|improve this question
So glad to see that nobody from MS bothered to provide a test instance. – sorin Aug 6 '14 at 10:58
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Your going to need a server installation (Windows 2003/2008/2008R2) to install Active directory.

Generally the easiest way to do this in a test/dev enviroment is to install the server OS in a VM and setup a domain inside of that. It's really not that hard if you are just looking to run a very small domain for people to test auth against.

share|improve this answer
Same goes for the lightweight versions? (AD LDS / ADAM) – stiank81 Feb 1 '10 at 20:42
@stiank81: Correct, for any of the AD components you need the Server OS. – Zypher Feb 1 '10 at 20:50
if you have the "full" version you wouldn't need the lightweight version. There is no difference from an authentication perspective. – Jim B Feb 1 '10 at 21:01

You could do it in a VM using Virtual Box, your host machine hardware will determine how well it performs. You will also need a license to install. It will NOT run locally on Win7, you need a Server OS.

share|improve this answer
You don't need a licensed copy, they have trial downloads that you can install into a VM. If you're already running Hyper-V, then you can download a VHD file that's ready to go, even easier. – mfinni Feb 1 '10 at 22:01
Oh yeah, forgot about that. Yesterday was a busy one, I was just typing away... – DanBig Feb 2 '10 at 13:17
so fix the actual answer – Aidan Ryan Jan 18 '11 at 17:23

Samba, the free and very popular SMB/CIFS file server, has a built in Active Directory and LDAP server. You're best off running it in a Linux VM of some sort (I prefer VirtualBox for simple testing applications). Be sure to see the installation section for the requirements.

share|improve this answer
This isn't Microsoft AD, but it's a good method for basic testing. Samba also manages its users separate from the actual Linux OS it's running on, which simplifies user management due to the seemingly infinite number of Samba management programs available. – DaAwesomeP Oct 18 '15 at 0:55

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.