Understanding the minimum set of DIT elements required by the first DC using MS-ADTS

    Active Directory contains a group of objects that also have a group of attributes.  All of them exist for some reasons.  Some of them are essential for the existence of Active Directory, while others are stored and used by other applications, such as Exchange Server, Terminal Server etc.  When a Domain Controller is created as the first one in a new domain within a new forest, its Active Directory DIT includes many objects and attributes. You can view all the objects on a newly created DC using LDIFDE tool.  But what is the minimum set of DIT elements (objects and attributes) required for the proper functioning of a DC that is the initiator of a forest? We received this question from some protocol implementers who try to understand what objects their AD compatible implementations have to create in order to act as the initiator of a forest. The answer lies in section 7 of MS-ADTS. This short blog will describe how we got a programming readable list of objects required for being the first DC.

   MS-ADTS is the primary specification for Active Directory.  In section 7, it specifies the objects that are necessary for the proper functioning of the DCs in a forest, and the requirements that govern the state of these objects.  As a requirement of the documentation, all the objects required in a DC should be found in this section, but they are not listed in a machine readable format that can be consumed by a software program. The dump of all objects in a new Windows DC created using LDIFDE provides a good start, but it is not exactly the minimum set of objects and attributes due to the following reasons:

·         Some objects that are created for some Windows application components.

·         Some objects are not essential for the basic operation of Active Directory.

·         Some objects or attributes exist as the choice of the Windows implementation or configuration.

   We used the dump of Configuration NC and Domain NC from a new DC as the base, and eliminated all the objects not covered in section 7 of MS-ADTS. Once the list was obtained, we validated it via source code review.  The list, Windows2008R2_Minimum_DIT_Consolidated.txt, is attached in this blog.  It is very easy for people to view what are in a DC initially using various AD tools, so it is worth pointing out what objects or attributes are not essential for the proper functioning of Active Directory when a new Windows DC creates them. The following are some of the objects or attributes in the LDIFDE dump that are not essential DIT elements:

·         All objects under CN=DisplaySpecifiers,CN=Configuration

·         All objects under CN=Public Key Services,CN=Services,CN=Configuration

·         Attributes whenCreated , whenChanged, uSNChanged,dSCorePropagationData,uSNCreated in all objects because they are all created in run time.

·         The references to ForestDnsZones and DomainDnsZones in all objects.

·         Objects under CN=Default Domain Policy,CN=System , CN=Policies,CN=System.


  We should notice that most of the essential objects are in Domain and Configuration NC.  For schema NC, only the following two objects or containers are mandatory for a functioning initial DC:

·         CN=Aggregate,CN=Schema,CN=Configuration

·         CN=Schema,CN=Configuration


  For your reference, the complete lists of the objects removed (Domain-NC-Removed.txt  & Configuration-NC-Remove.txt ) are attached with the blog.


  Understanding what AD objects or attributes are essential for an initial DC in a forest could be very important for a third party to implement interoperable solution with Windows Active Directory and can also help administrators understand the impact of changing objects or attributes in Active Directory.


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