With the release of PowerShell 2.0, we now have a PowerShell module that we can use to administer Active Directory. The Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell runs on Windows Server 2008 R2 and on Windows 7 and relies on a web service that is hosted on one or more domain controllers in your environment. In this post I’ll go over what you need in order to install and use the Active Directory Module for PowerShell, also known as AD PowerShell.

Setting up your Domain Controllers

In order to use the Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell on 2008 R2 and Windows 7, you first need to be running Active Directory Web Services (ADWS) on at least one Domain Controller. To install Active Directory Web Services (ADWS) you’ll need one of the following:

1. Windows Server 2008 R2 AD DS

You can load Active Directory Web Services (ADWS) on a Windows Server 2008 R2 Domain Controller when you install the AD DS role. The AD PowerShell module will also be installed during this process. Active Directory Web Services (ADWS) will be enabled when you promote the server to a DC using DCPromo.

2. Active Directory Management Gateway Service

If you cannot run Windows Server 2008 R2 Domain Controllers, you can install the Active Directory Management Gateway Service. Installing this will allow you to run the same Active Directory web service that runs on Windows Server 2008 R2 DC’s. You can download the Active Directory Management Gateway Service here. Make sure you read the instructions carefully, there are several hotfixes that need to be applied depending on the version of Windows you are running. You can install the Active Directory Management Gateway Service on DC’s running the following operating systems:

  • Windows Server 2003 R2 with Service Pack 2
  • Windows Server 2003 SP2
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 SP2

Note: You can also use AD PowerShell to manage AD LDS instances on Windows Server 2008 R2. If you plan on using AD LDS, Active Directory web services will be installed with the AD LDS role, the AD PowerShell module will also be installed during this process. The ADWS service will be enabled when your LDS instance is created.

Once you’ve got Active Directory web services up and running on your Domain Controller(s), you’ll notice you now have an ADWS service as shown here:

At this point, you should be ready to install the AD PowerShell module. You can run AD PowerShell on all versions of Windows Server 2008 R2 (except the Web Edition) and on Windows 7.

Installing the Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell on 2008 R2 member servers

You can install the Active Directory Module on Windows 2008 R2 member servers by adding the RSAT-AD-PowerShell feature using the Server Manager. I usually use the ServerManager module to do this because it is quick and easy. To install the feature using the ServerManager module, launch PowerShell and run the following commands:

Import-Module ServerManager
Add-WindowsFeature RSAT-AD-PowerShell

Remember, this only needs to be done on Windows Server 2008 R2 member servers. The RSAT-AD-PowerShell feature will be added to 2008 R2 DC’s during the DCPromo process.

Installing the Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) feature on Windows 7

In order to install the Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell you need to download the RSAT tools for Windows 7 here. Once this is installed you are still not finished, you need to enable the Active Directory module. Navigate to Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows Features On or Off and select Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell as show here:

Once you have Active Directory web services running on at least one domain controller and the AD PowerShell module is installed, you are ready to run the AD PowerShell module. You can do this in one of two ways. First, you can access the “Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell” shortcut in Administrative Tools as shown here:

Right click the shortcut and select “Run as administrator” in order to start PowerShell with elevated permissions.

You can also simply import the AD PowerShell module in your existing PowerShell session. Just use the Import-Module ActiveDirectory command:

Import-Module ActiveDirectory

That’s all that needs to be done to get up and running…I will get into using the AD PowerShell cmldets in future posts so keep an eye out for that.