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Or how to create an AD(or similar) environment at home?

So... I work in this big IT company(they have and AD environment ofc) and I've seen first hand how nice integration and log-in-from-anywhere(roaming?) profiles can be.

So I wanna create the same setup at home, where I have 3 machines. Mostly logging in with the same profile and preserving the settings(things like UAC being off, a few group policies I've customized, things like that).

How can I achieve something like this?

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Setup a domain controller and have it host AD, easy. ;) What have you tried already? Where are you getting stuck? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Oct 24 '12 at 19:45

How viable is this?

Technically this is no problem.

You will need a domain (and thus a PC to serve as domain controller). If you have no problem with one of your PCs always running before you log in or out on the other computers then it just comes down to:

  • Cost #1: Do I need a 4th computer as DC?
  • Cost #2: How do I get the licences for this?
  • Cost #3: Electricity used.
  • Knowledge. (Easy enough to fix with some googling).
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Ok, edited to be more... problem like as you stated. In any case, since I've never done this before, I have no idea where to start or if there is some other solution. Basically you should be able to log on without connecting to anything, but there are a few policies and settings I want to enforce GIVEN such a connection. Also, if thats not possible how about running the DC and using the PC normally at the same time for one of those PC's. – martixy Oct 24 '12 at 19:52
If you want to centrally manage your settings then there are but two choices. Either manually set or push them to each PC, or have each PC report to 'it supervisor' (aka the domain controller). For windows AD really is the easy and practical answer. (If your 3 computers are Mac, GNU/Linux, something else or a mix then please add that to the OP). – Hennes Oct 24 '12 at 19:56
All are win7 PC's. And in this case is it possible to run both the DC and a normal Win7 session on the same machine? And do I need a server edition for this? – martixy Oct 24 '12 at 20:01
You can run a domain controller on a virtual machine. But if you want to use roaming profiles then the server hosting that data will need to be up and running before you can load the profile. -- Still, you will need a license for the DC (no, your own win7 license will not do.) You will need a new one for each VM or each new real computer. And as far as I know that has to be server for a DC. If you want to try it grab a windows server 2012 trail and test it for up to 120 days. Or look at windows small business server. Still not cheap just for 'ease of use at home'. – Hennes Oct 24 '12 at 20:07
Should you try this and run into specific problems them please come back to this site and ask for help on that specific problem. For things like that we can give small concrete answers which also can help other users. Both unless you want to learn how to do this I think you are spending way more effort on this than it takes to manually do this. – Hennes Oct 24 '12 at 20:10

I honestly cannot ever see this as being a worth-while exercise.

For starters, you've got a load of licensing issues. Then you have the overheads of running a server - actually at least one, possibly several (though they could be virtual) since to run AD, you actually have to put in place a whole Microsoft stack.

Why not do as many now are, use Dropbox or similar to keep your active documents synch'd to the cloud - they will appear on any machine that has been set up. Set up each machine with the same user names and passwords and configuration, it would still be much quicker to set up than setting up AD then setting up Group Policy then setting up users.

No, set up each machine the same way - I do this with a crib sheet for our family computers - you could also write a script to help (I do this on Linux but it's not so easy on Windows). Have the same user id's and passwords on each and use Dropbox and similar cloud tools to keep data synchonised. If you don't want data in the cloud, use some local synch tool such as SyncBack SE.

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If you're not too scared about doing things the manual way, why not check this out? Power is minimal from the RPi, and SAMBA4 from what I have been told has quite a few interesting things. Still in RC, but you can play around with it at least. Could make for a fun and interesting project!

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