22 Best Alternatives to Microsoft Active Directory

Microsoft Active Directory Alternatives: – If you are a Windows Operating System user, would you want anyone else to log in to your system apart from you? The Active Directory is built exactly for that, that is, to check whether the person logging into to your system is a regular user or the system administrator. This in a way protects your system from any unknown log in attempts.

Active Directory is designed for Microsoft Windows domain networks and is a special purpose database. It comes as a set of processes and services attached with most Windows server operating systems. A server that runs the Active Directory Domain Services is the domain controller that validates and gives a go ahead to all users and machines in Windows domain network.

This helps appoint and apply security codes for all machines and for installation or software update. So, if a user tries to log in to your Windows domain computer, Active Directory authenticates the password entered, identifies and differentiates between a system administrator and a regular user.

Active Directory is especially developed to read large number of modifications and updates made to your computer. However, there are quite a few third-party alternatives to Microsoft Active Directory nowadays that perform the same job while they offer different kind of features. Today in this post we will guide you through the top alternatives to Microsoft Active Directory that will help you to make your choice appropriately.

Apache Directory

An open source software by the Apache Software Foundation, Apache Directory offers solution completely written in Java that includes the LDAP V3 certified directory server. It is certified by the Open Group n 2006 and also by the Eclipse based database utilities. Apart from LADP, Apache Directory also supports other codes along with Kerberos server.

The eclipse based directory tool, Apache Directory Studio added by a subproject includes a schema browser, DSML editor, LDAP editor/browser, LDIF editor, etc. An eclipse RCP application, the Apache Directory is made of several plugins based on Eclipse that can be conveniently upgraded with additional options.


Open LDAP or LDAP Admin is a free and open source application of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) designed by the OpenLDAP project. It’s a Windows LDAP client and administration tool for LDAP database control. One of the best alternatives to MS Active Directory that is present for the administrator, Open LDAP lets you browse, look up, change, create and remove items on LDAP server.

Some of the other functionalities offered by this project are scheme browsing, managing password, support for binary attribute, export & import LDIF, and more.

Univention Corporation Server (UCS)

Univention Corporation Server is a server software that is used for profitable operations and convenient control of server applications and complete IT operations. This server operating system is adopted from Debian GNU/Linux with a combined management system for the central and multi-platform control of servers, clients, desktops, users and services including the transitive machines operated in the UCS.

The Univention Corporation Server, since its upgrade to Version 3.0 also started supporting functions offered by Microsoft Active Directory to many companies for the administration of machines controlled with MS Windows with the help of assimilation of Samba 4 (an open source software).

Lepide Auditor for Active Directory

Control Active Directory changes using the powerful software, Lepide Auditor for Active Directory. It was specifically designed to offer a tool to manage the directory changes. It can trail both modifications and unravel the ones that are undesirable. It lets you quickly view who made the changes, what changes, when and where. The best part is that it also lets system audits even where audit logs are not present.

Among its other features are control panel for all audited systems, customizable control panel views, build up all audit logs to one central location, creating a business view instantly for who is making modifications and what’s being modified and more. It also notifies you whenever it detects any critical changes.


Designed by eTrust Directory development lab by Computer Associate, JXplorer is a free, open source and multi-platform LDAP browser and editor which is a standards compliant general purpose LDAP client that is fit to be used for look up, read and modify any standard LDAP directory or X500 directory with DSML interface. It’s believed to be an extremely flexible that can be customized in many different ways.

Written in Java, the software has its build system and source code in svn or available as a bundled build for those who wish to analyze or develop the program furthermore. JXplorer comes with a built-in reporting regulatory and security utilities.


Backed by Red Hat, FreeIPA is one of their ambitious projects that is free and open source project, that intends to offer Identity, Policies and Audit suites chiefly aiming towards Linux and Unix computer networks. Currently packaged with RHEL 6.2, this project aims to adapt many of the features offered by Active Directory.

Among its several features are assimilated security information management solution that incorporates Linux, NTP, DNS and more, assembled over Open Source components and standard codes, robust focus on convenience of administration and mechanization of installation and configuration functions, complete multi-master duplication of elevated repetition and flexibility, and expandable management interfaces such as, XMLRPC, CLI, WEB UI, etc.


Samba is an open source and free CIFS implementation that runs on Unix platforms and works towards a harmonious coexistence of Unix and Windows. While it runs on Unix, it speaks to the Windows clients in way as if it belongs to them. What we like is that it lets Unix to shift to a Windows Network Neighborhood without any fuss, followed by which Windows users can access the print and file services effortlessly, without knowing or bothering the benefits offered are by the Unix system.

This project is able to manage all this through a code of conduct currently called as CIFS or “Common Internet File System”. Samba has been moved over to different non-Unix hosts such as, NetWare, AmigaOS and VMS. Exclusive file server programs also support CIFS via several different vendors which make it available almost everywhere.


If you want to administer accounts and systems in LDAP directory, GOsa2 is a great alternative to Active Directory that furnishes you with a robust GPL’ed structure. Effortlessly manage your applications, mail sharing lists, users and groups, fat and thin clients, phones and faxes and several other guidelines using GOsa2. This tool also grants the highly mechanized installation of pre-organized systems in affiliation with “Fully Automatic Installation” (FAI). So, you therefore have a sole, LDAP-based point of control for big and small settings. This helps make the user and system administrations and any other relevant specifications convenient and manageable.

GOsa is a famous project in France, Spain, Germany, Belgium and other countries in USA and Europe that helps to assimilate the fresh open source configuration easily. Their web page clusters all those who are interested in this project and enables them to shares the information on this project in several different languages.


Novell’s eDirectory is one of the primary alternatives to the MS Active Directory. It is an adaptation of Novell’s original project called as network operating system directory which was set up to support the Netware environment of the brand. It then eventually evolved into a high-performance and mission-critical element to aid the developing role of the directory services in IT.

eDirectory is one of the highly used directories that boasts over 28K customers and majority of the Fortune 1000 organizations using the product. It is chiefly used for the large-scale distributions with one of its special strengths being able to scale. It comes with security features, and supports SASL, DSML, LDap, Soap and security standards juslt like the Active Directory.


Zentyal offers a directory server which is naturally compatible with MS Active Directory. Manage your IT framework from a sole point of user management, despite the various offices and locales. Some of the features offered by the directory server are, central domain directory management, SSO (single sign-on) validation, multiple organizational systems, management of printers, contacts, users, delivery lists, security groups, antivirus system with unified quarantine for file server, and many more.

389 Directory Server

389 Directory Server is a fully-featured business-class open source and free LDAP server for the Linux platform that makes a great alternative to the Microsoft Active Directory. What’s interesting about it is that it is seasoned with use in the actual world, aids multi-master repetition, and already manages several biggest LDAP distributions across the globe. The best part is that it is available to download for free and can be assembled within an hour with the help of the graphical interface.

The LDAP server is high performing that can manage innumerable operations per second and over tens of thousands parallel users. It boasts of an extensive directory that is limited only by disk space, that offers high performance, convenience to expand and multi-mater repetition, the 389 Directory Server can fulfill paramount demands.

Red Hat Directory Servers

Manage user access to multiple systems effortlessly with Red Hat Directory Server in a UNIX environment. Providing locally saved information becomes quite difficult as the number of users and systems goes high in a UNIX environment. In this case, the Red Hat Directory Server becomes handy as it allows you to store the user details in its LDAP based server that makes the system extensible, secure and convenient.

Among the many benefits that it offers are, data protection with restricted access to directory data, provides deep control based on the identity of user, role identity, domain name, group membership, etc., offers a base for compelling certificate-based validation, lets you access through various methods remotely or through validation procedures and much more.


Open SSO (Single Sign-On) is an open source and cross-platform access control and federation server podium. It also provides web services security in a sole, autonomous application. Enhanced for both internal web access control and extranet validation offering secure and integrated access management within the business and beyond, Oracle Open SSO is developed with repeatable and extensible tasks for faster placement of numerous situations and creates aligned mashups from internal and associate applications and web services to develop a lone view for the end user. It lets the customers to swiftly and reasonably widen the reach of business while retaining the high security parameters.

SME Server

SME Server by Koozali is an open source, exhaustive, safe, solid and an accomplished Linux server circulation designed for small to medium scale businesses. It’s built upon robust CentOS/Redhat sources and offered to you by a huge, active and talented community that provides advancement, plugins and support since the year 2007. It is a free to use software that offers some unique features making it a notably safe, stable and easy to use server platform that is developed so that it’s simple to assemble and use, safe and stable to be used, and multi-platform and expansible to deal with future requirements.

Koozali SME Server is remarkably trustworthy and easy to operate, and can be installed and set up within 20 minutes. Best of all, it’s still powered by safe and open Linux system that can be entirely upgraded and customized.

Resara Server

Resara Server is an open source server built for small sized businesses and that is compatible with Active Directory. This project is free and is designed around Samba 4. It is developed to be straightforward and easy to operate. The control panel allows you to control users, share files and set up DHCP and DNS. It consolidates all the pieces, provides a clean graphical user interface, and comes with a fair documentation.

The free version of Resara Server comes with user management, file shares, active directory-style domain controller, automatic drive mapping for Windows clients and network host management.

Sun Java System Directory Server

Currently known as the Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition, the Sun Java System Directory Server was a Sun Microsystem’s LDAP database and DSML server written in C. The original software was available to download for free forever for commercial use, service providers, research purposes or individual needs, and is still available to download at the Oracle web page which is the new official destination for Sun products.

You can find only the latest version on the Oracle website. The fact that the original product, Sun Java System Directory Server had many issues with the C language and hence, it started with the OpenDS in 2011. And since then the code base has not yet been updated.

IBM Tivoli Directory Server

IBM Tivoli Directory Server is an IBM implementation of the LDAP or the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. It is a directory especially designed for the enterprises that targets the corporate intranet and the Internet. For faster development and distribution of identity control, security and web application initiatives by adding robust management, impression and security features, the BM Security Directory Server is built in to meet the needs.

This server includes multiple validation methods that are beyond just usernames and passwords. It also supports validation based on digital certificate, SASL (Simple Authentication and Security Layer), Kerberos validation and CRAM-MD5 that is, Challenge Response Authentication Mechanism MD5. The IBM Tivoli Directory Server is based on LDAP framework that offers a base for deploying a complete identity control applications and progressive software planning.

Windows NT Directory Services

NTDS or Windows NT Directory Services is the directory services utilized by the MS Windows NT to find, control and arrange network resources. It makes use of domains, directory integration and trusts to provide users with Windows NT networks of enterprise level. These usually have the skills like, single sign-on capability, centralized way of administration, and the permission to access resources from anywhere in the enterprise.

So, if you are using Windows NT domains to create an efficient enterprise-level directory services a few factors should be kept in mind such as, the domain model used or the number of domains required, number of domain managers required to assist the number of users, the deployment of support domain controllers to ensure effective directory integration of directory services, and the deployment of BDCs to ensure efficient logon and resource validation over sluggish WAN links.

Lotus Domino

Previously known as Lotus Domino, IBM Domino is the client server of a collective client-server software platform sold by IBM. It was previously the server component of Lotus Corp’s client-server messaging automation. It is an IBM server application platform that is utilized for messaging, email, collaboration and scheduling. Not jst that, it also provides other enterprise collaboration services like, calendars, to-do lists, file sharing, blogs, discussion forums, micro blogging, user directories, and more.

It can also be used in collaboration with other IBM Domino utilities and directories. It is a desktop system application that is commonly used in corporate setups for email use, but can also be used to access directories like, document databases and custom utilities.

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  1. Maren Abatielos March 30, 2016
  2. Christopher March 30, 2016

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