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I need a domain controller in my test environment. I was wondering if it is possible to run a DC service without having a full blown server?

Really just need it for adding some test systems to the domain and mocking authentication and user lookups. Doesn't really have to do everything a true DC does.

Is there such a tool for the job?

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vgv8? But honestly, no. – DanBig Sep 16 '10 at 14:08
up vote 3 down vote accepted

No, you can't run AD DS without Windows Server.

Yes, you don't need a physical server, Windows Server with just AD DS can run in a virtual server with only 256MB RAM and 10GB Disk.

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Would Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM) suit your purposes?

It's a lightweight version of AD see the technet article for more assistance.

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ADAM/LWADS is not AD (and the name is misleading at the least), it's an LDAP server; AD includes Kerberos and other security mechanisms as well as the LDAP server and Schema. It still may be enough, depending on the requirements. – Chris S Sep 16 '10 at 14:17

1 word. Samba. You can indeed run a linux-based virtual machine with samba... and perform 99% of the things you need to in a real "domain-controlled" environment. Samba4 is still in "alpha" ... but I think it's inaccurately labeled... (it should be beta... as people are starting to use it in production environments). Samba4 can accurately duplicate most functionality in a Active-Directory enabled domain... Samba3 which is very stable only emulates an NT4-style domain. Samba4 will even let you use most of the Microsoft Active Directory tools to manage it. (Including the "Users & Computers" mmc tool)

There are also pre-built Virtual Machine images available to do exactly what you're talking about. (for lab environments & testing & such)

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I'm guessing you've never worked with a proper AD environment and all the functionality it offers. You can't get close to 99% using Samba. – ThatGraemeGuy Sep 17 '10 at 19:49
Actually I manage several AD environments. Apparently you also have not messed with Samba4. Rather than letting this become a flame war... Why not consider the possibility. – TheCompWiz Sep 20 '10 at 12:55

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