TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacEnterprise: Integrating with Active Directory

Volume Number: 25
Issue Number: 04
Column Tag: MacEnterprise

MacEnterprise: Integrating with Active Directory

A look at third-party tools for leveraging your AD infrastructure

By Greg Neagle, MacEnterprise.org

Introduction

In enterprise environments, Microsoft's Active Directory is possibly the single-most common directory service. It's well suited to large companies with geographically separated locations, and scales very well to tens and even hundreds of thousands of users. In any organization that has many Windows computers, or any company that uses Exchange, it is the obvious and maybe unavoidable choice for a directory service. For these reasons and more, Active Directory is the 500-pound gorilla of directory services. Questions about integrating Mac OS X with Active Directory are among the most common questions on the MacEnterprise mailing list (http://www.macenterprise.org/mailing-list).

Given the ubiquity of Active Directory in enterprise environments, it's not surprising that Apple offers a solution for AD integration: the Active Directory plug-in for Directory Services. This plug-in has been covered well here and elsewhere: Michael Bartosh wrote an excellent article for the November 2004 issue of MacTech covering the AD plug-in that shipped with Panther. You can find it in MacTech's online archives - much of what it covers is still relevant. In October 2007, Philip Reinhart covered a few more tricks with using the AD plug-in and the dsconfigad command-line tool. And of this writing, Apple has an excellent whitepaper on integrating Mac OS X with Active Directory available here: http://images.apple.com/business/solutions/it/docs/Best_Practices_Active_Directory.pdf

Still, Apple's built-in solution does not meet every possible need you might have when integrating Macs into an existing Active Directory infrastructure. Fortunately, there are third-party tools that can be used to supplement or even replace Apple's tools. We'll look at a few in this article. While not intended to be a in-depth examination, we'll briefly touch on the main features of some of the third-party solutions.

What's missing?

Before we look at third-party tools, it makes sense to talk about some of the "missing features" from Apple's offerings. Get ready for some three-letter acronyms:

GPO

GPOs, or Group Policy Objects, are used by Active Directory administrators to help manage their Windows clients. They can be used to manage security policies, software installation, login scripts, folder redirection, and some application settings. They are similar in concept to MCX settings in managed OS X environments. Some organizations would like to be able to define GPO settings to manage Macs along with their Windows machines. Apple's AD plug-in doesn't support Active Directory GPOs.

MCX

MCX is Apple's client management framework. Out-of-the box, there is no support for MCX settings in Active Directory. Some MCX options include extending the AD schema to include MCX attributes, deploying a dual-directory infrastructure where MCX records are stored in a secondary directory, or using a third-party replacement for Apple's AD plug-in.

DFS

DFS, or Microsoft's Distributed File System (sometimes written "Dfs") is a method of making shared filesystems available via a network. This is typically used to provide fault-tolerance and/or redundancy, and to insulate users from having to know on which fileserver a given resource is located. It is roughly equivalent to automounted NFS shares where a resource can be accessed by a specific path, no matter which actual fileserver hosts it. While this is not really a function of the AD plug-in, Apple's built in SMB/CIFS client does not support Microsoft's DFS.

This is not an exhaustive list - certainly there are other features of Active Directory and Windows file services that are not supported by Apple's tools, or with which Apple's tools have difficulty.

Select Third-party tools

ADmitMac

Thursby Software has been providing tools to help Macs connect to Windows for many years. ADmitMac, currently at version 4, is a complete replacement for both Apple's AD plugin and the built-in SMB client. Some key features:

Requires no Active Directory schema changes

Supports DFS, even for home directories

Support for Active Directory shared printers

Support for MCX client management

More information is available at http://www.thursby.com/products/admitmac.html

DAVE

Another product from Thursby Software is DAVE. It implements a subset of the features in ADmitMac. It operates as a replacement for Apple's SMB client, but provides less integration with Active Directory. See http://www.thursby.com/products/dave.html to learn more.

DirectControl

DirectControl from Centrify is also an Active Directory plug-in replacement. Besides the obligatory support for Active Directory authentication, a major feature of interest is support for GPOs: Windows administrators can use standard Windows tools to define GPOs for Mac clients that can specify certain management settings for user and computers. The ability to use a single set of tools to manage users, groups, and manage computers, no matter the OS is an important one for some organizations. Centrify also offers DirectControl for Linux and UNIX, which offers the possibility of using Active Directory to authenticate and manage all your platforms. More information on the Mac product is available at http://www.centrify.com/directcontrol/mac_os_x.asp

Likewise Enterprise

Likewise Enterprise is yet another replacement for Apple's Active Directory plug-in. A unique feature of this product is the ability to store MCX data in Active Directory without extending the schema. This is similar in concept to what Centrify's DirectControl does, but with two important differences:

Administrators can not only define Group Policy Objects using the Microsoft Management Console, but they can also use Apple's Workgroup Manager application to define Mac-specific management settings

Because actual MCX data can be stored in AD, a wider range of management settings are supported.

Likewise Enterprise is also available for Linux and UNIX, again making it possible to use a single directory service for all your platforms. Additionally, Likewise offers an Active Directory management console that runs on Mac OS X and Linux. Visit http://www.likewise.com/products/likewise_enterprise/ for more information on this product.

ExtremeZ-IP

ExtremeZ-IP is a product from GroupLogic that provides Apple File Protocol services and printing services from Windows servers. Implementing ExtremeZ-IP on your Windows file servers allows Mac clients to connect via the native AFP client instead of the SMB/CIFS client. Since this is a server-based file sharing solution, it might seem odd to include it in this list of third-party tools. But GroupLogic has announced that Extreme-IP 6, due this year, will provide support for Microsoft DFS. With ExtremeZ-IP 6, Leopard (and later) clients will be able to use AFP to connect to Microsoft DFS shares. As a server-based solution, it can be used in conjunction with many of the client-based solutions mentioned above. You can find out more about ExtremeZ-IP at http://www.grouplogic.com/products/extremeZ-IP/

Active Directory Integration Cheat Sheet

To wrap things up for this overview, the table below lists the solutions mentioned in this article with a matrix of some of the features not directly supported by Apple's built-in tools. If Apple's bundled solutions for Active Directory and Windows file server integration don't meet all your needs, you have some additional options to explore!


Greg Neagle is a member of the steering committee of the Mac OS X Enterprise Project (macenterprise.org) and is a senior systems engineer at a large animation studio. Greg has been working with the Mac since 1984, and with OS X since its release. He can be reached at gregneagle@mac.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Together 3.4.6 - Store and organize all...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop functionality,... Read more
Monosnap 3.1.0 - Versatile screenshot ut...
Monosnap lets you capture screenshots, share files, and record video and .gifs! Capture: Capture full screen, just part of the screen, or a selected window Make your crop area pixel perfect with... Read more
Cocktail 8.5.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Vienna 3.0.6 :5eaf312: - RSS and Atom ne...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
Kodi 15.1.rc1 - Powerful media center to...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
Bookends 12.5.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Access the power of Bookends directly from Mellel, Nisus Writer Pro, or MS Word (... Read more
Chromium 44.0.2403.125 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 44.0.2403.125: This release contains a number... Read more
iMazing 1.2.2 - Complete iOS device mana...
iMazing (was DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and from... Read more
Audio Hijack 3.2.0 - Record and enhance...
Audio Hijack (was Audio Hijack Pro) drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio... Read more
FontExplorer X Pro 5.0.1 - Font manageme...
FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for professional use; it's the solution that gives you the power you need to manage all your fonts. Now you can more easily manage, activate and organize your... Read more

You'll Want to Keep an Eye Out for...
If you're the kind of person who had fun hunting down and completing all the codex puzzles in Assassin's Creed 2, then are you ever in for a treat. The Guides looks like it's going to be a very robust collection of similarily odd, seemingly... | Read more »
Vivid Games has Announced Real Boxing 2...
The original Real Boxing was a pretty impressive bit of fisticuffs, but if the trailer Vivid Games is showing off for GamesCom is any indication Real Boxing 2 is going to be even better. [Read more] | Read more »
PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX - Tips,...
[Read more] | Read more »
Card King: Dragon Wars - Tips, Tricks an...
[Read more] | Read more »
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX has brou...
Bandai Namco has released Pac-Man Championship Edition DX on iOS and Android, which features the classic arcade gameplay that we've all grown to love. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX can be enjoyed in much shorter bursts than the arcade versions... | Read more »
Cosmonautica (Games)
Cosmonautica 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Cast off! Are you ready for some hilarious adventures in outer space? | Read more »
Rescue humanity from a Demon horde in An...
Angel Stone is Fincon's follow up to the massively successful Hello Hero and is out now on iOS and Android. You play as a member of The Resistance, a group of mighty human warriors who have risen up in defiance of the Demon horde threatening to... | Read more »
Gallery Doctor (Photography)
Gallery Doctor 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Free up valuable iCloud and iPhone storage with Gallery Doctor, the only iPhone cleaner that automatically identifies the... | Read more »
You Against Me (Games)
You Against Me 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A simple game… You. Me. Claim, steal, lock, score, win! | Read more »
Yep, it's True - Angry Birds 2 is O...
The not exactly rumors were true and the birds are back. Angry Birds 2 has come to the App Store and the world will... well I suppose it'll still be the same, but now we have more bird-flinging options! [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

PDF Element Tool Kit For PDF For Windows 10,...
South Surrey, British Columbia based software developer Wondershare has posted an interesting infographic tracking the development of Microsoft’s flagship Windows operating system over the years,... Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $81 off MS...
Adorama has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2218, $81 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
Back-to-School with Tablet and Smartphone Acc...
Belkin helps you prepare for the coming school year with a wide variety of the latest mobile and tablet accessories to outfit both grade school and college students. The line-up includes charging... Read more
11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSR...
Best Buy has 11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: - 11″ 1.6GHz... Read more
iPad Air 2 on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
Best Buy has iPad Air 2s on sale for up to $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices available for online... Read more
Sale! 13-inch MacBook Pros on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.5GHz/500GB MacBook Pro: $999.99 save $100 - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina... Read more
Sale! Save $100 on 13-inch MacBook Airs this...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model.... Read more
Worldwide Tablet Market Decline Continues, Ap...
The worldwide tablet market declined -7.0% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2015 (2Q15) with shipments totaling 44.7 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data... Read more
TP-LINK TL-PA8030P KIT Powerline Featuring Ho...
Consumer and business networking products provider TP-LINK is now shipping its TL-PA8030P KIT AV1200 3-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline Starter Kit that expands your home’s network over its... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Air 2s available for u...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iPad Air 2s available for up to $140 off the price of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 128GB... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Infrastructure Engineer - *Apple* /Mac - Hil...
Infrastructure Engineer - Apple /Mac Job Code: 1608 # of openings: 1 Description Our fortune 500 client is looking to hire an experienced Infrastructure Engineer to join Read more
Executive Administrative Assistant, *Apple*...
…supporting presentation development for senior leadership. * User experience with Apple hardware and software is preferred. Additional Requirements The following list Read more
*Apple* Bus Company is now hirin - Apple Bus...
Apple Bus Company is now hiring school bus drivers in the Pettis County area. Class B CDL preferred. Free training provided. No nights or weekends required. Flexible Read more
*Apple* Certified Mac Technician - Updated 6...
…and friendly, hands-on technical support to customers troubleshooting and repairing Apple /Mac products with courtesy, speed and skill. Use your problem-solving skills Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.