9.1. Operation of a Samba domain based on Active Directory#

9.1.1. Installation#

Samba as an AD domain controller can be installed on all UCS Directory Nodes from the Univention App Center with the application Active Directory-compatible domain controller. Alternatively, the software package univention-samba4 can be installed. On the system roles Primary Directory Node and Backup Directory Node the univention-s4-connector package must also be installed and univention-run-join-scripts command must be run after installation. Additional information can be found in Installation of further software.

A Samba member server can be installed on UCS Managed Nodes from the Univention App Center with the application Windows-compatible Fileserver. Alternatively, the software package univention-samba can be installed (univention-run-join-scripts command must be run after installation). Additional information can be found in Installation of further software.

Samba supports the operation as a read-only domain controller. The setup is documented in Extended Windows integration documentation [7].

9.1.2. Services of a Samba domain# Authentication services#

User logins can only be performed on Microsoft Windows systems joined in the Samba domain. Domain joins are documented in Windows domain joins.

Users who login to a Windows system are supplied with a Kerberos ticket when they login. The ticket is then used for the further authentication. This ticket allows access to the domain’s resources.

Common sources of error in failed logins are:

  • Synchronization of the system times between the Windows client and domain controller is essential for functioning Kerberos authentication. By default the system time is updated via NTP during system startup. This can also be done manually using the command w32tm /resync on the Windows client.

  • DNS service records need to be resolved during login. For this reason, the Windows client should use the domain controller’s IP address as its DNS name server. File services#

A file server provides files over the network and allows concentrating the storage of user data on a central server.

The file services integrated in UCS support the provision of shares using the CIFS protocol (see File share management). Insofar as the underlying file system supports Access Control Lists (ACLs) (can be used with ext4 and XFS), the ACLs can also be used by Windows clients.

Samba Active Directory domain controllers, i.e. UCS Directory Nodes, can also provide file services. As a general rule, it is recommended to separate domain controllers and file/print services in Samba environments - following the Microsoft recommendations for Active Directory - that means using UCS Directory Nodes for logins/authentication and UCS Managed Nodes for file/print services. This ensures that a high system load on a file server does not result in disruptions to the authentication service. For smaller environments in which it is not possible to run two servers, file and print services can also be run on a UCS Directory Node.

Samba supports the CIFS protocol and the successor SMB2 to provide file services. Using a client which supports SMB2 (as of Windows Vista, i.e., Windows 7/8 too) improves the performance and scalability.

The protocol can be configured using the Univention Configuration Registry variable samba/max/protocol. It must be set on all Samba servers and then all Samba server(s) restarted.

  • NT1 configures CIFS (supported by all Windows versions)

  • SMB2 SMB2 (supported as of Windows Vista / Windows 7)

  • SMB3 configures SMB3 (supported as of Windows 8) Univention S4 connector#

When using Samba as an Active Directory domain controller, Samba provides a separate LDAP directory service. The synchronization between the UCS LDAP and the Samba LDAP occurs via an internal system service, the Univention S4 connector. The connector is enabled on the Primary Directory Node by default and typically requires no further configuration.

Further information on the status of the synchronization can be found in the log file /var/log/univention/connector-s4.log. Additional information on analyzing connector replication problems can be found in KB 32 - Samba 4 Troubleshooting.

The univention-s4search command can be used to search in the Samba directory service. If it is run as the root user, the required credentials of the machine account are used automatically:

$ root@primary:~# univention-s4search sAMAccountName=Administrator
# record 1
dn: CN=Administrator,CN=Users,DC=example,DC=com
objectClass: top
objectClass: person
objectClass: organizationalPerson
objectClass: user
cn: Administrator
instanceType: 4
(..) Replication of directory data#

Samba/AD domains use the Directory Replication System (DRS) to replicate the directory data. DRS allows multi-master replication, i.e., the write changes from multiple domain controllers are synchronized at protocol level. Consequently, the use of snapshots in virtualization solutions should be avoided when using Samba/AD and Samba/AD should be operated on a server which is never switched off.

The complexity of the multi-master replication increases with each additional Samba/AD domain controller. Consequently, it must be checked whether additional Samba/AD domain controllers provided by UCS Directory Nodes are necessary or if a UCS Managed Node would not be a better choice for new servers.

Additional information on troubleshooting replication problems can be found in KB 32 - Samba 4 Troubleshooting. Synchronization of the SYSVOL share#

The SYSVOL share is a share which provides group policies and logon scripts in Active Directory/Samba. It is synchronized among all domain controllers and stored in the /var/lib/samba/sysvol/ directory.

In Microsoft Active Directory, the SYSVOL share is synchronized by the File Replication Service (introduced with Windows 2000) or the Distributed File System (as of Windows 2008 R2). These replication methods are not yet fully implemented in Samba/AD. The synchronization between the Samba/AD domain controllers is performed in UCS via a Cron job (every five minutes as standard - can be configured using the Univention Configuration Registry Variable samba4/sysvol/sync/cron).

9.1.3. Configuration and management of Windows desktops# Group policies#

Group policies are an Active Directory feature which allows the central configuration of settings for computers and users. Group policies are also supported by Samba/AD domains. The policies only apply to Windows clients; Linux or Mac OS systems cannot evaluate the policies.

Group policies are often referred to as GPOs (group policy objects). Put more precisely, a GPO can contain a series of policies. Despite their name, group policy objects cannot be assigned directly to certain user groups, but instead are linked with certain AD administration units (domains, sites or organizational units) in the Samba directory service (Samba AD/DS) and thus refer to subordinate objects. A group-specific or user-specific evaluation is only indirectly possible via the Security Filtering of a group policy object, in which the Apply group policy Allow/Deny privilege can be directly restricted to certain groups, users or computers.

As a basic rule, a distinction must be made between group policies (GPOs) and the similarly named group policy preferences (GPPs):

  • The settings made via GPOs are binding, whereas GPPs are merely used to enter preferences in the registry of Windows clients, which can still be overwritten on the client in certain circumstances.

  • The settings made via GPOs are also dynamically applied to the target objects, whereas, in contrast, the settings made via GPPs are entered statically in the registry of Windows clients (this is also referred to as tattooing).

For these reasons, GPOs are preferable to GPPs in the majority of cases. This remainder of this section deals exclusively with GPOs.

In contrast to UCS policies (see Policies), group policies are not configured via UMC modules, but instead are configured in a separate editor, the Group Policy Management editor, which is a component of the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT). The installation is described in Installation of Group Policy Management.

There are two types of policies:

User policies

User policies configure a user’s settings, e.g., the configuration of the desktop. It is also possible to configure applications via group policies (e.g., the start page of a browser or settings in LibreOffice).

Computer policies

Computer policies define a Windows client’s settings.

Computer policies are evaluated for the first time the computer starts up; user policies during login. The policies are also continually evaluated for logged in users / running systems and updated (every 90-120 minutes by default. The period varies at random to avoid peak loads.)

The command gpupdate /force can also be run specifically to start the evaluation of group policies.

Some policies - e.g., for the installation of software or for login scripts - are only evaluated during login (user policies) or system startup (computer policies).

The majority of group policies only set one value in the Windows registry, which is then evaluated by Windows or an application. As standard users cannot modify any settings in the corresponding section of the Windows registry, it is also possible to configure restricted user desktops in which, for example, users cannot open the Windows Task Manager.

The group policies are stored in the SYSVOL share, see Synchronization of the SYSVOL share. They are linked with user and host accounts in the Samba directory service.

Installation of Group Policy Management#

Group Policy Management can be installed as a component of the Remote Server Administration Tools on Windows clients. They can be found at Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows 10.

Activating the Group Policy Management tools

Fig. 9.1 Activating the Group Policy Management tools#

Following the installation, Group Policy Management must still be enabled in the Windows Control Panel. This is done by enabling the Group Policy Management Tools option under Start ‣ Control Panel ‣ Programs ‣ Turn Windows features on or off ‣ Remote Server Administration Tools ‣ Feature Administration Tools.

Following the enabling, Group Policy Management can be run under Start ‣ Administrative Tools ‣ Group Policy Management.

Configuration of policies with Group Policy Management#

Group policies can only be configured by users who are members of the Domain Admins group (e.g., the Administrator). When logging in, attention must be paid to logging in with the domain Administrator account and not the local Administrator account. Group Policy Management can be run on any system in the domain.

If more than one Samba domain controller is in use, consideration must be given to the replication of the GPO data, see Configuration of group policies in environments with more than one Samba domain controller.

There are two basic possibilities for creating GPOs:

  • They can be created in the Group Policy Objects folder and then linked to different positions in the LDAP. This is practical if a policy is to be linked to several positions in the LDAP.

  • The GPO can also be created at an LDAP position ad hoc and then directly linked to it. This is the simpler means for small and medium-sized domains. Domains created ad hoc are also shown in the Group Policy Objects folder.

A policy can have one of three statuses: enabled, disabled or unset. The effect is always based on the formulation of the policy. For example, if it says Disable feature xy, the policy must be enabled to switch off the feature. Some policies have additional options, for example the Enable mail quota policy could include an additional option for managing the storage space.

Editing a policy

Fig. 9.2 Editing a policy#

Two standard policy objects are predefined:

Default Domain Policy

The Default Domain Policy object can be used to configure global policies for all users and computers within the same domain.

Default Domain Controllers Policy

The Default Domain Controllers Policy object has no use in a Samba domain (in a Microsoft AD domain the policies for Microsoft domain controllers would be performed via this object). The configuration of the Samba domain controllers in UCS is largely performed via Univention Configuration Registry.

AD domains can be structured in sites. All the sites are listed in the main menu of Global Policy Management. There is also a list of the domains there. The current Samba versions do not support forest domains, so there is only ever one domain displayed here.

One domain can be structured in different organizational units (OUs). This can, for example, be used to store the employees from accounting and the users in the administration department in different LDAP positions.

Group policies can mutually overlap. In this case, the inheritance principle applies, e.g., the superordinate policies overwrite the subordinate ones. The applicable policies for a user can be displayed on the Windows client either with the modeling wizard in Group Policy Management or by entering the command gpresult /user USERNAME /v in the Windows command line.

Evaluating the GPO for the user ``user01``

Fig. 9.3 Evaluating the GPO for the user user01#

The policies are evaluated in the following order:

  1. By default Default Domain Policy settings apply for all the users and computers within the domain.

  2. Policies linked to an OU overwrite policies from the default domain policy. If the OUs are nested further, in the case of conflict, the “most subordinate” policies in each case, in other words the one most closely linked to the target object, apply. The following evaluation order applies:

    • Assignment of a policy to an Active Directory site

    • Settings of the default domain policy

    • Assignment of a policy to an organizational unit (OU) (in turn, each subordinate OU overrules policies from superordinate OUs).

Example: A company blocks access to the Windows Task Manager in general. This is done by enabling the Remove Task Manager policy in the Default Domain Policy object. However, the Task Manager should still be available to some staff with the requisite technical expertise. These users are saved in the IT staff OU. An additional group policy object is now created in which the Remove Task Manager policy is set to disabled. The new GPO is linked with the IT staff OU.

Configuration of group policies in environments with more than one Samba domain controller#

A group policy is technically composed of two parts: On the one hand there is a directory in the domain controllers’ file system which contains the actual policy files which are to be implemented on the Window system (saved in the SYSVOL share (see Synchronization of the SYSVOL share)). On the other hand there is an object with the same name in the LDAP tree of the Samba directory service (Samba AD/DS), which is usually saved below an LDAP container named Group Policy Objects.

Although the LDAP replication between the domain controllers is performed in just a few seconds, the files in the SYSVOL share are only replicated every five minutes in the default setting. It must be noted that the application of newly configured group policies in this period may fail if a client happens to consult a domain controller which has not yet replicated the current files.

Administrative templates (ADMX/ADM)#

The policies displayed in Group Policy Management can be expanded with so-called administrative templates. This type of template defines the name under which the policy should appear in Group Policy Management and which value should be set in the Windows registry. Administrative templates are saved in so-called ADMX files (previously ADM files), see Group Policy ADMX Syntax Reference Guide [8].

Among other things, ADMX files offer the advantage that they can be provided centrally across several domain controllers so that Group Policy Management on all Windows clients displays the same configuration possibilities, see How to Implement the Central Store for Group Policy Admin Templates, Completely (Hint: Remove Those .ADM files!) [9].

The following example of an ADM file defines a computer policy in which a registry key is configured for the (fictitious) Univention RDP client. ADM files can also be converted to the newer ADMX format using third-party tools. The administrative template must have the file suffix .adm:

CATEGORY "Univention"
POLICY "RDP client"
KEYNAME "Univention\RDP\StorageRedirect"
EXPLAIN "If this option it activated, sound output is enabled in the RDP client"
VALUENAME "Sound redirection"
VALUEON "Activated"
VALUEOFF "Deactivated"
The activated administrative template

Fig. 9.4 The activated administrative template#

The ADM file can then be converted to the ADMX format or imported directly via Group Policy Management. This is done by following the context menu Administrative templates ‣ Add/Remove Templates option. Add can be used to import an ADM file. The administrative templates are also saved in the SYSVOL share and replicated, which allows Group Policy Management to access them from the Windows clients.

Application of policies based on computer properties (WMI filters)#

It is also possible to configure policies based on system properties. These properties are provided via the Windows Management Instrumentation interface. The mechanism which builds on this is known as WMI filtering. This makes it possible, for example, to apply a policy only to PCs with a 64-bit processor architecture or with at least 8 GB of RAM. If a system property changes (e.g., if more memory is installed), the respective filter is automatically re-evaluated by the client.

The WMI filters are displayed in the domain structure in the WMI Filters container. New can be used to define an additional filter. The filter rules are defined under Queries. The rules are defined in a syntax similar to SQL. Examples rules can be found in Microsoft [10] and Heitbrink [11]. Logon scripts / NETLOGON share#

The NETLOGON share serves the purpose of providing logon scripts in Windows domains. The logon scripts are executed following after the user login and allow the adaptation of the user’s working environment. Scripts have to be saved in a format which can be executed by Windows, such as bat.

The logon scripts are stored in /var/lib/samba/sysvol/Domainname/scripts/ and provided under the share name NETLOGON. The filename of the script must be given relative to that directory.

The NETLOGON share is replicated within the scope of the SYSVOL replication.

The logon script can be assigned for each user, see User management via Univention Management Console module. Configuration of the file server for the home directory#

The home directory can be defined user-specifically in the UMC module Users, see User management via Univention Management Console module. This is performed with the setting `Windows home path, e.g., \\ucs-file-serversmith.

The multi edit mode of UMC modules can be used to assign the home directory to multiple users at one time, see Editing objects. Roaming profiles#

Samba supports roaming profiles, i.e., user settings are saved on a central server. This directory is also used for storing the files which the user saves in the My Documents folder. Initially, these files are stored locally on the Windows computer and then synchronized onto the Samba server when the user logs off.

No roaming profiles are used by default in Samba/AD.

Roaming profiles can be configured via a group policy found under Computer configuration ‣ Policies ‣ Administrative templates ‣ System ‣ User profiles ‣ Set roaming profile path for all users logging onto this computer. If this is set to the UNC path %LOGONSERVER%\%USERNAME%\windows-profiles\default the profile data will get written to the directories windows-profiles\default.V? in the home directory of the user located on the currently chosen logon server.

Alternatively the profile path can be defined for individual user accounts. This is possible in the UMC module Users under the Account tab by filling the field Windows profile directory. The corresponding UDM property is called profilepath. In the OpenLDAP backend this is stored in the LDAP attribute sambaProfilePath.

If the profile path is changed, then a new profile directory will be created. The data in the old profile directory will be kept. These data can be manually copied or moved to the new profile directory. Finally, the old profile directory can be deleted.


As standard, the Administrator accesses shares with root rights. If as a result the profile directory is created with the root user, it should be manually assigned to the Administrator with the command chown.