Joining Samba4 to an Existing Windows Domain.

Note: See my first post for more context.

I am developing an small Active Directory infrastructure for the Computer Science Department Linux/Windows lab environment at Taylor University. Lab users have a central user space shared by both the Linux and Windows profiles, which authenticate from to Active Directory. Our Windows profile setup utilizes folder redirection to the network share for most profile folders (Desktop, Music, Pictures, Downloads, AppData/Roaming, etc), while our Linux space is NFS mounted by clients. Since we favor Linux administration, we prefer to keep our user files stored on a Linux file system. The Samba4 server grants CIFS access to Windows users, while Linux users can automount via NFS. LDAP authentication is handled through Kerberos on both the Windows and Linux clients. While Windows clients are joined to the Domain, Linux treats Active Directory merely as a Kerberized LDAP server. Finally, each user account is extended with a posixAccount class allowing us to give each user the uid, gid, unix home directory, and login shell attributes they need to properly interface with nslcd (the ldap client daemon) for Linux logins.


I started by setting up two Windows Server 2008 R2 machines. I created a new domain, installed the Active Directory Domain Services and DNS roles via the dcpromo.exe utility, configured both machines as domain controllers. This process is very well documented by Microsoft so I won’t describe it here. It’s important to ensure that directory and DNS replication is happening between these machines. I chose two Windows domain controllers for a few reasons:

  1. Demoting any DC appears to fail when a Samba4 DC exists in the domain. I’m not sure if this is specific to my setup, but it’s just one of the many bugs I’ve found so far (I hope they fix it soon). As such, I don’t really trust S4 to keep my production directory data intact, and if I have to demote (read: manually delete) my Windows DC for any reason, I want the directory data housed within Windows DC.
  2. Related to the above comment, I’m not comfortable yet entrusting S4 with master roles, thus I need two Windows boxes in case I need to bring one down.
  3. Active Directory is highly reliant on DNS. As such, I strongly prefer the Windows DNS to a hacked up BIND solution or S4’s brand new internal system. Having a two replicating Windows DNS servers is even better.
  4. Apparently, the Samba4 DNS doesn’t play well with Windows DNS yet. Once again, if I have to choose…

Anyway, after configuring the Windows machines, the next step was to create an Ubuntu Linux server (I chose Ubuntu because it’s heavily favored by the Samba4 team) and join it as a DC to the existing Windows domain. You first need to prepare your server for Samba4. Then, you need to setup Samba to join an existing domain.

Rather than regurgitate what is already stated on that Wiki, I’ll just note some things.


When you setup the Kerberos configuration file as stated in the Wiki, it’s important to test it out via kinit administrator@YOURREALM. By authenticating, you’ve requested a ticket from the Kerberos server, which is then placed in the default ticket cache, located at /tmp/krb5cc_0. If this isn’t working properly, the provision step will fail–probably with an LDAP authentication error.

Domain Name Service

If you’ve followed the Wiki instructions correctly up to this point, the provision step should work. After doing lots of test provisions, I’ve noticed that the DNS replication doesn’t always work (this is actually a known documented issue I guess). You can run the test commands they give you in the Wiki, or use the Windows DNS GUI to check that entries exist–my preferred approach. The Active Directory DNS tree heavily utilizes SRV records for services. The main ones we care about are Kerberos, LDAP, and GC (Global Catalog). Browse the DNS tree and make sure that you can see your Samba4 server listed along with the other Windows DC’s. In my configuration I noticed that under DomainDNSZones and ForestDNSZones, my Samba4 server is not listed. I think this is intended behavior because the Windows DNS and Samba4 DNS don’t work together quite yet.
If you notice that those entries don’t exist, there’s a handy script called samba_dnsupdate, located in INSTALL_DIR/samba/sbin/. That should replicate the DNS entries you need to the Windows DC’s. In the cases where the provision step failed to do this for me, running that script fixed the problem. Your mileage may vary.

Directory Replication Service

You can view the replication status by running the following command: samba-tool drs showrepl. If things don’t look like they’re working, first make sure you’ve started Samba! It may take it a few minutes to “warm up.” You can force replication by running:

samba-tool drs replicate <destinationDC> <sourceDC> <NC>

The NC term is your LDAP naming context; to replicate the whole tree, use your base Distinguished Name, e.g. DC=SOMETHING,DC=TEST,DC=COM. Under the Active Directory Sites and Services subtree in the Windows Server Manager GUI, you can view the connections between servers (Sites -> Default-First-Site-Name -> Servers -> YourS4Server). I’ve done several test configurations, and every one of them throws an error when I try and replicate to the Samba4 server from a Windows DC. This is the error I get:

The following error occurred during the attempt to synchronize naming context DomainDNSZones.<DOMAINNAME> from Domain Controller <Samba DC> to Domain Controller <Windows DC>: The naming context is in the process of being removed or is not replicated from the specific server. The operation will not continue.

Interestingly enough, if I replicate via samba-tool using the same source and destination servers, everything works. I’m assuming there’s some incompatibility there that hasn’t been addressed yet by the Samba team. If anyone has a solution for this please let me know. So far it hasn’t caused any problems.
Another good test of replication is to create a user account and see if it transfers across domain controllers. You can do this via samba-tool user add.

Distributed File System Replication

Samba4 does not yet support DFS replication. For our purposes, the main issue this causes is group policy synchronization issues; namely, the SYSVOL folder–which houses group policy objects–is not replicated from the Windows domain controllers to the Samba server. As a result, you’ll need to manually mount the SYSVOL share, copy the data over, and then run samba-tool ntacl sysvolreset to fix the permissions. Ideally, you should write a script to do it. This only needs to be updated when you’ve changed a group policy object. This is a bit annoying, but it’s not a show stopper. If you don’t do this, then your clients will apply different group policy settings based on which controller they happen to talk to, which is bad.

Coming Up

At this point in the setup process, I had my two Windows and Samba4 domain controllers communicating pretty happily. In my next post I’ll talk about how I setup my Linux and Windows clients to authenticate, login, and access user data from the Samba server. Stay tuned!


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