July 1, 2011, 5:59 p.m.
posted by trystan
As far as Active Directory is concerned, computers are very similar to users. In fact, computer objects inherit directly from the user object class, which is used to represent user accounts. That means that computer objects possess all of the attributes of user objects and then some. Computers need to be represented in Active Directory for many of the same reasons users do, including the need to access resources securely, utilize GPOs, and have permissions assigned to them.
To participate in a domain, computers need a secure channel to a domain controller. A secure channel is an authenticated connection that can transmit encrypted data. To set up the secure channel, a computer must present a password to a domain controller. Similar to the way in which it authenticates a user account, Active Directory will use Kerberos authentication to verify the identity of a computer account. Without the computer object and, by association, the password stored with it that is changed behind the scenes on a regular basis by the operating system, there would be no way for the domain controller to verify a computer is what it claims to be.
The Anatomy of a Computer
The default location for computer objects in a domain is the cn=Computers container located directly off the domain root. You can, however, create computer objects anywhere in a domain. And in Windows Server 2003, you can modify the default location for computer objects as described in Recipe 8.12. Figure contains a list of some of the interesting attributes that are available on computer objects.