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Understanding Active Directory Distinguished Names

This article was been published more than 6months ago. The information contained herein may be outdated.

In Active Directory, and I assume any system using LDAP, a Distinguished Name (DN) is a way to identify a given user with confidence. It is a string of Relative Distinguished Names, separated by commas. There are a number of different RDNs in existense, but for our purposes, these are the ones we might need:

String Attribute type
DC domainComponent
CN commonName
OU organisationalUnitName
O organisationName

A DN, then, comprises information about where in the Active Directory hierarchy we can find a given user’s account. If a user account name is JDOE and is located at Domain.com\Users\Superusers, the DN becomes CN=JDOE,OU=Superusers,OU=Users,DC=Domain,DC=com.

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