How to connect Ubuntu Linux Desktop 21.04 to an Active Directory domain

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Canonical made it easy for administrators to join Ubuntu Desktop to Active Directory domains. Jack Wallen walks you through the steps.

Ubuntu 21.04 was released last month and has been a real hit with end users and businesses. While you won’t find a massive amount of new features, what’s there should be seen as a significant step forward for businesses and other business use cases.

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One special feature that network and security administrators will greatly appreciate is the ability to easily connect Ubuntu Desktop to an Active Directory domain. With this new added capability, Linux desktops have become a more viable option for businesses. The added benefit is that the users will be working on a more reliable and secure platform.

How do I join a new instance of Ubuntu Desktop to an Active Directory domain? I will show you.

What you will need

For this to work, you need to perform a fresh installation of Ubuntu Desktop, as it is during the installation that the connection to Active Directory is established. So download an ISO of Ubuntu Desktop 21.04, burn it to a USB drive or create a new virtual machine, and get ready to connect.

How to connect Ubuntu to the domain

While installing Ubuntu, you will come to the user creation screen. On this screen, go ahead and fill in the user information as you normally would, but make sure to check the Use Active Directory (Figure A).

Figure A

ubuntuada.jpg

Activation of the Active Directory connection when installing Ubuntu Desktop 21.04.

Click on Continue.

In the next screen, fill in the domain, then click Test connection (Number B).

Number B

ubuntuadb.jpg

Configuring Active Directory from the Ubuntu Desktop 21.04 installer.

You should get a green check mark when the connection is tested. Once you see this fill in the domain administrator and enter the password for this administrator. Once you have entered this information, click Continue and the installation will complete. Restart the machine and log in.

Once connected, open a terminal and run the command:

realm discover REALM

Where REALM is the name of the kingdom you have joined. You should see in the output the details of the domain (Figure C).

Figure C

ubuntuadc.jpg

I joined a new instance of Ubuntu Desktop in the MONKEYPANTZ.LAN domain.

Now that the Ubuntu Desktop machine has successfully joined the domain, you can then login with the users (who are members of the domain) on the desktop login screen in the form USER @ REALM, where USER is the user with an Active Directory account, and REALM is the domain to which the computer has joined.

Congratulations, you can now deploy Linux as a viable desktop solution on your corporate network. You can now more easily control who can log into these desktops, with strict company policies.

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