by August 1, 2000 0 comments

If you’ve used Windows 2000, you’d have noticed the
integration of its admin interfaces and tools into the Microsoft Management
Console (MMC). The MMC allows delegation of tools to different users, so that a
large corporation can manage a Win 2k-based network better. However, sometimes
the MMC just doesn’t do what you need to. This is where ADSI comes in.

In his book “Business@The Speed of Thought”, Bill
Gates gives an example of the processes that happen even before a new employee
joins Microsoft. Most large corporations would follow a minor variation of the
same. Take, for instance, a user named Morpheus joining a fictional corporation
called “The Matrix”. The processes involved before his first day at
office would involve the system administrator setting up a domain account,
creating his home directory, adding him to the correct user groups, creating a
mail account and other assorted MIS stuff. All this is easily possible through
Win 2k’s administration tools. However, the poor system administrator needs to
do each step one by one, making sure that he resolves conflicts if any, and
finally sends an e-mail to the new user as well as his boss that he is all set
to join up. Now, extrapolate this scenario to a hundred users joining up, say as
temporary summer trainees. I’d hate to be in the poor sys admin’s shoes.

This is where a customized solution for this company would be
helpful. A single, simple interface for the harassed administrator or his
subordinates would really help. What about a solution like a free Hotmail
account? The new user simply sees a Web page the first time he sits on his
machine and registers his details, and everything is automatically done for him.

Such solutions are possible through Active Directory Services
Interface. ADSI is a set of interfaces or “handles” that allows
developers to manipulate the Active Directory using COM objects. The best part
is that not only is ADSI easy to understand and develop, you can also use any
programming language you’re comfortable with, such as VB, VC++, VBScript,
JavaScript, etc. The technologies that can interface with the ADSI scripts
include the Windows Script Host, Windows Script Components, Active Server Pages
(ASP), or HTML applications. So you have a choice of languages and user
interface you wish to provide.

ASPs lets you run the scripts as a Web page, HTAs as small,
distributable programs, WSH as quick and dirty scripts that do your job without
bothering about the user interface, and VB or VC for a really big application if
you want to go that way. Anyway, the choice is yours. Let’s find out what ADSI
can do for you. The language I chose is VBScript and the interface is WSH (as I
want to concentrate on the ADSI part and not the user interface programming
part).

ADSI namespaces….>>>

ADSI namespaces

ADSI contains a large number of different namespaces, or what
you can term as top-level objects. Depending on the configuration of your Win 2k
setup, you’ll find a few additions to these. The common ones are–Win NT, NDS,
LDAP, and NWCOM PAT. Win NT and LDAP namespaces are the ones that we’ll
discuss here. The difference between the two lies mostly in that Win NT is used
to refer to a particular machine, whereas LDAP queries the domain. These are the
interfaces that allow manipulation of objects such as user, groups, services,
ADS schema, etc. You could also have IIS as another namespace if it’s
installed.

To check what are the namespaces on your machine save the
following as a VBS file and run it.

Set oADSI = GetObject("ADs:") ‘ Get the Root ADS object

For Each Child in oADSI

sNS = sNS & Child.Name & vbCrLf

Next

WScript.Echo sNS

This’ll give you a small popup that lists the top-level
namespaces available on your machine.

Now to find out the properties of the Win NT object, try the
following script:

Set oW = GetObject("WinNT://powerhouse")

Replace powerhouse with your machine name.

Try LDAP://domain if on a Win 2k domain controller.

s = "Name: " & oW.Name & CHR(13)

s = s & "Class: " & oW.Class & CHR(13)

s = s & "GUID: " & oW.GUID & CHR(13)

s = s & "AdsPath: " & oW.ADsPath & CHR(13)

s = s & "Parent: " & .Parent & CHR(13)

s = s & "Schema: " & oW.Schema

wScript.Echo s

This shows you the ADS–related properties of your domain.
By simply changing the first line to include, say your username, you can see
your properties. For example, if the first line is changed to Set oW = GetObject
("WinNT://powerhouse/vinod"), the result you’ll see is different.

Each ADS object belongs to a class–user, group, or service
(you might have more depending upon what you have installed–IIS, print
services, etc). To see a list of members of each class, simply use the following
script as a template. Change the filter property to one of the classes to see
members of that class. You can also see more than one class by using a
comma-delimited list within the
Array ( ) keyword.

Set oW = GetObject("WinNT://powerhouse")

oW.Filter = Array("group")

For Each item In oW

sItem = sItem & group.Name & CHR(13)

Next

Wscript.Echo sItem

Property values can also be read or written using scripts.
The ADSI model is so extensible, thanks to the LDAP based back-end processing,
that you can script not only things that are a part of the
Win 2k operating system, but also ones that are add-ons and use the ADS, such as
IIS and Exchange 2000. However, programming the interfaces for these is way
beyond the scope of this article. To learn how to go about doing it, take a look
at the admin scripts that come with IIS 5.

To read or set property values, one must query the correct
interface collection and read its value. Use the following script to retrieve
the properties of each user on the system.

Set oW = GetObject("WinNT://powerhouse")

oW.Filter = Array("user")

For Each user in oW

Set userClass = GetObject(User.Schema)

on error resume next

Wscript.Echo "======"

WScript.Echo

Wscript.Echo "USER: " & User.Name

Wscript.Echo "––––––"

WScript.Echo "Mandatory properties for " & User.Name &
":"

For Each property In userClass.MandatoryProperties

WScript.Echo " " & property & ": " &
User.Get(property)

Next

Wscript.Echo "––––––"

WScript.Echo

WScript.Echo "Optional properties for " & User.Name &
":"

For Each property In userClass.OptionalProperties

WScript.Echo " " & property & ": " &
User.Get(property)

Next

Next

Run this script from the Command Prompt using cscript.exe.
Enter "cscript list.vbs" to see the results. You might have to pipe it
through MORE or redirect to a file to see the list. The script itself is pretty
self-explanatory. It simply cycles through all the users of the specified
machine or domain and lists their properties and values.

To create a new user and set his properties, do the
following.

sUserName = "Morpheus"

Set oW = GetObject("WinNT://powerhouse")

Set newUser = oW.Create("user", sUserName)

newUser.SetInfo

newUser.FullName = "Morpheus X"

newUser.Description = "Is he the ONE?"

newUser.SetInfo

WScript.Echo "ADSI Path: " & newuser.ADsPath

set oG = GetObject("WinNT://powerhouse/Administrators")

oG.Add(newUser.ADsPath)

Wscript.Echo newUser.Name & " (" & newUser.FullName &
") has been added to the Administrators Group"

set userClass = GetObject(newUser.Schema)

on error resume next

Wscript.Echo "==========="

WScript.Echo

Wscript.Echo "USER: " & newUser.Name

Wscript.Echo "––––––––––"

WScript.Echo "Mandatory properties for " & newUser.Name &
":"

For Each property In userClass.MandatoryProperties

WScript.Echo " " & property & ": " &
newUser.Get(property)

Next

Wscript.Echo "––––––––––"

WScript.Echo

WScript.Echo "Optional properties for " & newUser.Name &
":"

For Each property In userClass.OptionalProperties

WScript.Echo " " & property & ": " &
newUser.Get(property)

Next

This script creates a user called Morpheus, sets his full
name and description properties, and adds him to the administrator’s group
(see visual on previous page). It then shows a list of all the properties for
this user.

The LDAP namespace lets you manipulate the ADS using the LDAP
syntax. The only difference in using the two is that the LDAP method lets you
use the standard "dc=domain, dc=com" type of syntax to traverse the
directory. However, LDAP is the only way to traverse sections of the tree if you’ve
changed the internal Win 2k directory schema itself. However, this can’t be
covered here. Look out for a detailed hands-on on modifying the Win 2k Active
Directory structure.

ADSI scripting is a vast and interesting topic. However, a
lot of the ADS interfaces depend on what you’ve installed on your machine and
what you want to do with it. As you can see, scripting ADSI with a few lines of
code can really reduce administrator headaches. Using WSH, the File SystemObject,
VBA, ASP, and ADSI, one can easily create scripts that do a lot of complex
things such as picking up a list of new entrants from an Access or Excel file
and generating accounts, usernames based on company policy, home directories,
and permissions. ADSI is a powerful and customizable method of automating
mundane and repetitive administrative tasks, and using it appropriately can help
save a lot of time and resources.

Vinod Unny is a technology consultant at iSquare Technologies

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