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I am from a small primary school and we are currently looking into getting a server purely for authentication. I do not want to push software to the devices or anything like that. I simply want to force the devices to input a username/password before they can use it (to keep track of who is using what for security purposes. We are getting more and more windows tablets in and it is hard for the teachers to keep track of who is using what).

I do not want to spend money so i thought using open source server software would be a better idea. I understand i will need a relatively good piece of hardware to then run this but that shouldn't be a problem to sort out.

I looked around at Apache, ClearOS and Ubuntu Server and they all look great but i can't seem to find any information regarding compatibility of Linux servers with windows.

So: Is it possible/practical to use a Linux server to authenticate Windows devices? and if so, any recommendations?

  • While I realise this isn't an answer to your question, I would ask that you seriously consider why you don't just setup a proper Active Directory domain on a Windows server. It sounds like you're using a Windows ecosystem already, so it would be the best fit. – Steve365 Feb 7 '15 at 8:53
  • You say you want to authenticate windows devices. But I can not read this from your question. You seem to want to authenticate somewhere (Where? Against what service?) on a windows tablet. So the windows table just seems to be a device to login to some... ...WebPortal? Or do you want the user to authenticate before he can use the Windows Device? – cornelinux Feb 7 '15 at 10:30
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Yes, it's perfectly possible! You can set up a Linux Server as an LDAP server, which allows for users to use the same username and password to authenticate on all boxes (including Linux ones).

Some useful links:

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    Excellent, just been reading through those links you sent me. Only thing i couldn't grasp was what i would need to do to the windows devices to tell them to connect to the server. – Toby Hanson Feb 6 '15 at 11:42
  • I have to admit I've not done it myself: does this link help? You'll need to set up Samba and have it talk to LDAP for authentication. – shearn89 Feb 6 '15 at 11:57
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    Okay, i more or less get the process now. I'm sure i'll run in to a multitude of problems seeming i'm new to this. Thanks for all your help. – Toby Hanson Feb 6 '15 at 12:46
  • using ldap is not sufficient. You need to use samba. – cornelinux Feb 7 '15 at 10:25
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I just wanted to add this as further support. It is possible(and fundamentally AWESOME) to use samba as a replacement for a windows server domain controller. Glancing at those links it looked(and i could have missed something) that it was focusing on ldap for authenticating linux users, rather than windows users.

Some information can be found(http://xmodulo.com/samba-primary-domain-controller.html)

but basically you will want to install samba Active Directory, and modify the config file

sudo cp /etc/samba/smb.conf

[global]

workgroup = sambadomain netbios name = sambapdc server

string = Samba PDC
domain master = yes
preferred master = yes
domain logons = yes

add machine script = /usr/sbin/useradd -N -g
machines -c Machine -d /var/lib/samba -s /bin/false %u

security =user
encrypt passwords = yes

wins support = yes

name resolve order = wins lmhosts hosts bcast logon path = \%N\%U\profile
logon drive = H:

logon home = \%N\%U

At the end of it you can then manage users with the command line.


#to create user
sudo smbpasswd -a dan
#to activate user
sudo smbpassword -e dan
#to give user login rights
sudo net rpc rights grant "SAMBADOMAIN\dan" SeMachineAccountPrivilege SePrintOperatorPrivilege SeAddUsersPrivilege SeDiskOperatorPrivilege SeRemoteShutdownPrivilege
#to add to domain groups.
sudo net groupmap add ntgroup="Administrator" unixgroup=root rid=512 type=d

Using this method your windows machines would join the domain as if it were a windows domain server providing authentication.

There are some more steps involved, but there is a wealth of information out there regarding using samba for AD :)

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    This is the route to go down rather than a "generic LDAP server" route unless you've got particular requirements that mean you're married to a specific LDAP server already. – Rob Moir Feb 6 '15 at 15:15

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