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On my company's network there are a small collection of iMacs. Currently they use Active Directory. We looked in to Apple Open Directory, but $500 for a copy of OSX Server (not to mention the Apple hardware to run it on) seemed a bit expensive.

I'm wondering if there's an alternative to Open Directory that completely or near-completely emulates Open Directory.

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Is there something you need from Open Directory that you can't get with AD? – Zypher Jun 13 '11 at 17:41
open Directory is just a wrapper for OpenLDAP, if your happy with just command line or basic LDAP tools then installing OpenLDAP ion a linux box is free, the thing that makes Apple Open Directory, Apple Open Directory is pretty much purely its GUI tools – anthonysomerset Jun 13 '11 at 17:46
I'm looking for an LDAP server that can provide Apple's equivalent of Group Policy. – Yoplitein Jun 13 '11 at 17:57
Does apple have a group policy equivalent? – Jim B Jun 13 '11 at 18:16
Just FYI, OSX Lion Server is going to be $50 instead of $500. – ceejayoz Jun 13 '11 at 18:40

Open Directory is an open source back end with a closed source schema and front end.

One thing to consider is how much time you spend on the solution and it's usability afterwords. If your solution needs too much support or is onerous to use than you save a little upfront but are spending more in the long term. In many cases the tools are more important than most other considerations.

In general you can use almost any open source LDAP server for a simple network. OpenDS and 389 Directory are easy to setup and have tools to simplify adding users, machines, groups, etc.

If you have complex needs something like FreeIPA may fit your needs a bit better. I don't have much experience with it but it appears to include the parts needed for an integrated solution and the tools required to make it supportable.

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Try FreeIPA -

FreeIPA is an integrated security information management solution combining Linux (Fedora), 389 Directory Server, MIT Kerberos, NTP, DNS, Dogtag (Certificate System). It consists of a web interface and command-line administration tools.

Let me know how goes. :)

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The open source options for this are extremely hard to manage I would highly suggest you pay the $1000 for a Mac Mini Server (or two if you have the money so they'll be some redundancy). It's VERY easy to pick up how to use the build in software (Work Group Manager) to pass out preferences and if you have it setup correctly you can use AD for your accounts and Open Directory for the Mac Preferences.

You can also look at Centrify's Direct Control. When we looked at it the cost of a Mac Hardware was more affordable than Direct Control so I haven't actually implemented it.

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