Is there a way to install lightweight Active Directory on Windows 7 for Development purposes without domain? I've downloaded the "AD LDS" for Windows 7 and installed it but it seems to require a actual domain server exist on the network. Isn't it possible to run a active directory on the domain called "localhost" ?


If you're looking to develop against something that looks and smells like Active Directory, then AD LDS is no substitute - contrary to what you'd intuitively think from the name, it does not provide just a "slimmed down" AD.

Create a development domain with a real AD Domain Services install.

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  • Ok, thanks. Then, what is the purpose of "AD LDS" ? – djangofan Dec 15 '11 at 18:55
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    @djangofan MS has a good overview here. – Shane Madden Dec 15 '11 at 19:02
  • Shane, can you explain why the other answers in this thread seem to conflict with your answer? – djangofan Dec 11 '12 at 22:05
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    @djangofan I wouldn't say they do. You might be able to use AD LDS as a facsimile of some of the LDAP parts of AD, but its behavior still won't be the same in terms of handling of all LDAP properties... and there's a lot more to AD than just LDAP. Depending on the scope of your development, LDS might be appropriate for working against.. but in most cases beyond simple LDAP object manipulation, it won't be, and you don't want a situation where your code depends on behavior specific to LDS. – Shane Madden Dec 12 '12 at 3:44

To answer the original question, you can install ADLDS for W7 without a domain present. A workgroup W7 machine will suffice. It need not be a domain member. The http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc731246(WS.10).aspx step by step guide might be useful to you.

ADLDS is a LDAP server and if your requirements are to test code for reading/writing LDAP intended for AD, then you could test againt ADLDS. You might find the http://directoryprogramming.net/ site and accompanying book useful.

If your requirements are more than simply a LDAP server, then as per Shane's recommendation you'd need to implement a lab environment with full AD installation.

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  • Yeah, I was having trouble because the LDS service doesn't give you any way of creating users. I think that is the case because it requires that you replicate/feed from a actual Domain Server. So, in other words, it only works if your on a domain or near one. – djangofan Dec 16 '11 at 20:53
  • You need to import the schema for creating objects using the objectclass of interest. The LDS Schema by default is very basic. MS-user.ldf is the file you need to import. – maweeras Dec 16 '11 at 22:11
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    As for the instructions on creating users, please see the step by step guide I quote earlier. Specifically, this section technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc730701(WS.10).aspx – maweeras Dec 16 '11 at 22:37

The AD LDS for windows 7 installation adds three components to your Administrator Tools which are:

  1. Active Directory Lightweight Directory Service setup wizard
  2. Active Directory Sites and Services
  3. ADSI Edit

Use the last one to create a local instance of an Active Directory for your dev :)

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