25 Best Microsoft Active Directory Alternatives

If you are looking for Microsoft Active Directory Alternatives then you may try below listed Free and Paid that works with Windows, macOS, and Linux. The Active Directory is a very useful tool for System Administrator to check who access the system. It also allow to change how your profile pictures will look, which system will belong to which network, and many more.

The Active Directory work only with a Microsoft Windows operating system that stores a lot of information about the system changes and updates done. But if you are not happy then there are several other alternatives to Microsoft Active Directory that works very well with Windows, macOS, and Linux OS and offer more features.

What are the features of Active Directory?

The basic and advanced features and services included in the Active Directory software are-

  1. Create and manage domains, users, and objects within a network.
  2. Organize a large number of users into logical groups and subgroups while providing access control at each level.
  3. Domain Services: Centralised data is stored and communications between users and domains are controlled/managed by domain services. Login authentication and the search facility is also included under this service.
  4. Creating, distributing, and managing secure certificates.
  5. A user can be authenticated into multiple websites in a single session using SSO (Single Sign-On). This feature comes under Directory Federation Service.
  6. Using LDAP, applications like Active Directory should support directory-enabled applications.
  7. Active Directory and its alternatives should protect copyrighted information by preventing unauthorized use and distribution of digital content.

Without taking much time, I will present 25 alternatives to Active Directory for both Windows and non-Windows platforms.

25 Alternatives to Active Directory


ApacheDS (Apache Directory Studio) is considered to be the top Active Directory alternatives and the company enjoys immense popularity among directory service users. It has been certified to be compatible with LDAPv3 (The latest LDAP version) along with support for Kerberos 5 and the Change Password Protocol. 

ApacheDS is written entirely in Java, one of the most robust programming languages out there. Several features of ApacheDS are listed below-

  • Multimaster replication support: Content synchronization (RFC 4533) allows ApacheDS 2.0 to support multi-master replication.
  • Configuration based on LDIF: LDIF, a well-known file format among people working with LDAP technologies which makes it a lot easier to manage and configure servers.
  • Developers can easily embed their Java applications as ApacheDS is entirely Java-based.
  • ApacheDS is regularly updated.
  • Free



OpenLDAP is a well-known open-source, community-developed implementation of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. OpenLDAP is built keeping in mind the needs of users who want a robust, commercial-grade, fully featured LDAP suite of applications and development tools.

Some features offered by OpenLDAP-

  • Written in C language, OpenLDAP is fast and bug-free.
  • Supports the latest LDAPv3, and IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6).
  • DIFv1 support: Provides complete compliance with the LDAP Data Interchange Format (LDIF) version 1.
  • Stand-alone LDAP servers are enhanced.
  • Free

Univention Corporate Server (UCS) 

Univention Corporate Server

UCS (Core Edition) is an open-source and free-of-charge directory application. It is deemed as one of the most complete Active Directory alternatives among users and is a trusted and popular directory service software as it is regularly updated for security and feature improvements.

UCS is easily an optimal solution to better management of a virtualized IT environment for cost-efficient and easy administration of server applications due to the following features-

  • Single Server Scenario: One single UCS domain can handle 1000+ clients and servers for 1000+ users.
  • Univention App Center: It is a platform to install and administrate preconfigured business applications in a UCS domain so that they are ready to use in the existing IT infrastructure.
  • Friendly user interface and easy, hassle-free setup/installation.
  • It has a command line, scripting interface and APIs (Application Program Interfaces) for automatization and extensions.
  • DNS, WINS, DHCP, (IP) Management integrated.
  • Active Directory Connection: You can join an existing Active Directory domain or synchronize it with UCS. Furthermore, you can also access the Univention App center from Active Directory.
  • Free

Zentyal Active Directory 

Zentyal active directory

Zentyal is a complete Microsoft Active Directory implementation for users on Linux. Linux is growing as an office-use OS at an exponential rate because of it being a freeopensource, and highly secure operating system kernel. If you are using Linux for a small or medium business and office environment, you don’t have to look any further as Zentyal is the Directory service software to go for.

Feature list-

  • Directory and domain: SSO (Single Sign-On) authentication, File-sharing in Windows environments like XP/Vista/7/8/10, etc.
  • Mail: Antivirus and mail filter, 6 protocols supported (including SMTP, POP3, and IMAP), a plethora of integrated software.
  • Gateway: Routing, firewall, RADIUS, and free RADIUS supported with multiple integrated software.
  • Support and updates provided on GitHub and forum.
  • Free


Samba active directory

Samba is a free Windows interoperability suite and a very famous Active Directory alternative. It can function in two modes, 1- Domain Controller or as a 2- Regular Domain member. Samba has been there for a long time (Since 1992) and has provided secure, stable, and fast file and print services for the clients using SMB or CIFS protocol.

Features include-

  • Regularly updated, secure, and easy to install and download.
  • SMBclient: Simple SMB client with an interface similar to FTP utility.
  • Own filesystem for Linux: SMBF filesystem
  • Samba Web administration tool: Allows you to configure samba remotely using a web browser.
  • Free


JumpCloud is a reimagined replacement for Microsoft’s Active Directory and LDAP. It is the first software to be implemented as DaaS (Directory as a Service). As the name suggests, JumpCloud is entirely cloud-based software and hence it is the future of directory services as now everyone prefers cloud-based software solutions because it is easy to manage.

Features of JumpCloud-

  • Centralized Cloud Directory: User identities are secured and united in a single authoritative directory.
  • Cloud LDAP, Single Sign-On (SSO), RADIUS servers.
  • Administration automation (Scripting APIs,PowerShell,& Event-logging).
  • Protects system, servers, apps, and network with MFA (Multi-factor Authentication).


OpenDJ is an open-source, lightweight, and embeddable directory service. OpenDJ fully implements LDAPv3 and also supports DSMLv2 (Directory Service Markup Language). OpenDJ’s source code is originally from OpenDS, an LDAP/DSML server maintained by Oracle Corporation.

Written in Java language, OpenDJ offers the following set of features-

  • Multi-master replication
  • access control and a lot of extensions.
  • High performance: Response time in ms and 10000+ w/r per second.
  • Modern UI and regularly updated.
  • Secure and trusted directory server originally coming from Sun Microsystem’s OpenDS.
  • Free

Azure Active Directory

Microsoft Azure is another alternative to Active Directory developed by Microsoft as a Web application. Azure Active Directory (AAD) features top-of-the-line security, user experience, and apps. Microsoft’s claim of investing $1 Billion for security every year and employing 3,500 security experts makes AAD worth it.

Some salient features of Azure Active Directory are as follows-

  • Azure AD supports more than 2,800 SaaS (Software as a Service) apps.
  • Enforces Strong authentication and conditional access policies that safeguard user credentials.
  • Customizable user journey and simplified authentication with social identity.
  • All the features of Windows Server’s Active Directory.
  • Free and Paid premium also available

Gluu Server 

Gluu Server is a  feature-rich and modern Active Directory alternative that you can use for free. With a plethora of basic and advanced features at its disposal, we can easily recommend Gluu Server as a safe and secure directory service which you can use to manage your demanding business.

Gluu Server provides the following features-

  • Variety of 2FA mechanisms including FIDO devices,one-time-password(OTP), push notifications, etc.
  • OAuth scopes allow associating access to management policies.
  • Local User Management, Leverage backend LDAP server(s), integrated Identity management tools.
  • Microsoft AD integration.
  • Free


Another alternative to Zentyal (An Active Directory alternative for Linux) on Linux can be the FreeIPA client and user management software. Using FreeIPA guarantees a secure directory environment as it is powered by Red Hat OpenShift Online. Along with web-interface and command-line administration tools, FreeIPA can be excellent software to manage your user and client identities.

FreeIPA offers-

  • CLI, Web UI, RPC access helps to manage users and clients.
  • Ease of management and automation of installation and configuration.
  • Extensible management interfaces like CLI, XMLRPC, JSONRPC API, and Web UI)
  • Python SDK, and integrated SIM (Security Information Management) solution.
  • Free

389 Directory Server

389 Directory server is an enterprise-class open source LDAP server for Linux. 389 Directory server has been tested and trusted for real-world usage, supports multi-master replication, and currently handles many of the world’s largest LDAP deployments. 389 Directory server can be set-up quickly and is free to download.


  • Zero downtime, LDAP-based management including ACIs (Access Control Information).
  • Amazing fault tolerance and high write performance provided by asynchronous Multi-master replication.
  • TLS and SASL provides Secure Authentication & transport
  • LDAPv3 compliant.
  • Free


GLAuth is a lightweight replacement for OpenLDAP and Active Directory. It is a secure, easy-to-use LDAP server with fully configurable backends. It provides centralized account management across Linux servers, macOS, and support applications like Jenkins, Graylog2, Apache, Nginx, etc.

GLAuth has the following notable features-

  • Manage SSH keys, Linux Accounts, and passwords for cloud servers centrally.
  • You can store your user directory in a local file on your internal storage, S3, or proxy them to existing LDAP servers.
  • It is fully free and open-source and is regularly updated on GitHub.
  • Free


RazDC provides the power of Microsoft’s Active Directory on your Linux systems free of cost and with minimal hardware requirements. RazDC is created keeping in mind the needs of small business owners who want a reliable Active Directory alternative without breaking the bank.

The feature list of RazDC-

  • Powerful Bind9 DNS which comes with granular control from subnets to single IPs
  • User Interface can adapt to any screen size.
  • Diagnostic tools and log viewers in-built.
  • Secure and compatible with MS Active Directory.
  • Free


Linuxmaster.net is a directory and management service focused on School and institution IT infrastructure. Based in Germany, the software company has teamed up with school teachers and service providers for the special requirements for schools, and hence, this software is user friendly, adaptable, and has a helpful community.

Set of notable features-

  • Open-source and freely available without the need for licensing or activation.
  • Linbo ensures operation reliability.
  • WebUI makes stuff a lot easier.
  • A direct technical successor to PaedML-Linux 5.
  • Free


The cross-platform LDAP browser and editor, JxPlorer is a worthy addition to this list of AD alternatives. Searching, reading, and editing LDAP a standard LDAP directory or any directory service with an LDAP or DSML interface has never been easier as JxPlorer focuses on being a standard compliant, general-purpose LDAP client.

JxPlorer offers-

  • Easy drag-and-drop editing of files and data.
  • SSL/TLS support along with support for SASL authentication.
  • You can edit LDIF files offline; Importing and exporting LDIF is also possible.
  • UI for search filter construction is provided, can perform complex searching.
  • Free


GOsa is a powerful LDAP administration frontend for user administration designed for power users. It is a bit difficult to install GOsa and the setup process isn’t trivial as compared to other Softwares mentioned here, but with GOsa, you can access dozens of plugins and use them for free with the GOsa core app.

GOsa provides a very powerful modular framework by allowing us to freely choose between the plugins we need and it can be a good active directory alternative.

  • Free


eDirectory claims to be the best online directory software in the world. With easy setup and fast launch, eDirectory provides a complete set of features to manage your directories effortlessly. eDirectory focuses on building an online directory for the web and if you are looking for a directory software for that purpose, you can stop looking any further.

eDirectory’s features-

  • Highly customizable.
  • Access to the source code for design and features.
  • You can add plugins and services to increase functionality.

Red Hat Directory Server

The software company Red Hat, which is under IBM as of 2019, enjoys immense popularity as a network software developer company among the millions of internet users worldwide. Red Hat’s Directory server makes it plenty easy to scale, manage, and secure your user information in an LDAP based server.

Mentioned below are some salient features of Red Hat Directory Server-

  • Centralized, fine-grained access control along with control based on user identity, IP address, domain name, etc.
  • Your directory data will be in safe hands with Red Hat’s control down to attribute value level.
  • user ID, password, or X.509v3 public-key certificates are some authentication methods.
  • Security policy replication by storing ACL (Access Control List) information with each entry.
  • Paid

Koozali SME Server

Koozali SME Server is an open-source Linux Server distro for small to medium business’. Based on CentOS/Redhat, SME Server is brought to you by a large and skilled community. Koozali claims SME Server to be secure, stable, and versatile.

List of features-

  • Effortless setup: Installation and basic configuration take less than 20 minutes.
  • Reliable: Regularly updated and secure due to CentOS and Redhat traces in its source code.
  • Other features like Antivirus and antispam, Remote access, Backup, Raid, Auto-update, etc.
  • Free


OpenAM (Open Access Management) focuses on providing access management solution that includes authentication, SSO (Single Sign-On), Authorization, Federation, Entitlements, and Web Services Security.

You can find OpenAM repositories on GitHub, which automatically implies that OpenAM is open-source. OpenAM integrates easily with legacy, custom, and cloud applications without the need for any modifications thanks to CDSSO, SAML 2.0, OAuth 2.0, and OpenID connect.

  • Free

Oracle Directory Server Enterprise Edition

Previously known as the Sun Java System Directory Server, the oracle directory server enterprise edition is one of the best-known directory servers with demonstrated large deployments in carrier and enterprise ecosystems. We can also say that the oracle directory server enterprise edition is the ideal directory service software for heterogeneous environments.


  • Embedded database
  • Directory Proxy
  • Active Directory synchronization
  • Web administration console


IBM Domino – IBM i

IBM Domino is IBM retained client, now managed by HCL. It is a collaborative client-server software platform and delivers a highly scalable and reliable infrastructure for e-collaborations. IBM offers a load of developers tools like Lotus Domino for IBM i APIs, Lotus C API toolkit, Domino HTTP Server and WebSphere, and Lotus DeveloperWorks.

We all know that IBM has decades of expertise in the field of business Softwares and hardware and our trust makes IBM Domino a worthy Active Directory alternative in this list.

  • Paid

IBM Tivoli Directory Server

IBM Security Directory Server, formerly known as IBM Tivoli Directory Server, is IBM’s implementation of LDAP. This could be your preferred Directory Server alternative if you own a large, corporate level business. With IBM’s brand name and experience, we can easily recommend IBM Tivoli Directory Server as a replacement to Microsoft’s Active Directory.

IBMTDS supports-

  • CRAM-MD5 (Challenge-Response Authentication Mechanism MD5).
  • SASL (Simple Authentication and Security Layer).
  • Kerberos authentication.
  • Digital Certificate-based authentication.
  • Paid

Resara Server

Perfect for small business’, Resara Server is an open-source server that is compatible with Active Directory. Resara Server is designed around Samba 4 and is straightforward, easy to install and operate. You can effortlessly manage users, share files, and configure DHCP and DNS using the management console.

Although not much popular, Resara Server is completely free and just happens to be one of the MS Active Directory alternatives.

  • Free


Lepide is a security-focused, risk-free data-centric Security Platform. Although Lepide is not free, you can register for a free trial. Lepide provides improved data-protection and meets compliance audits like HIPAA, PCI, SOX, GDPR, CCPA, etc.

Not only active directory but Lepide also supports Group Policy, File Server, Exchange Server, NetApp Filters, SQL Server, Azure AD, and many more.

  • Paid

I hope this article was informative and you found exactly what you were looking for. For suggestions and queries, leave a comment below or contact us.



Bipul is an undergraduate engineering student, who has used five different Windows releases over 8 years of him being a true PC enthusiast.

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