A customer of our AD Bridge product ( https://github.com/BeyondTrust/pbis-open ) asked me:

What is the best practice around how to ensure the Users you want to “export” are available to define with PBIS settings in the named cell on the RESOURCE side. Essentially, what prerequisite needs to be met so from the RESOURCE side, we can see these users. Is it a universal group?

If it is a universal group, is the expectation that the admins of the USER domain would know when onboarding a user that requires linux access, to put them in that group on their side (the USER side) so they’re available for cell enabling on the RESOURCE side?

a Typical 1-way trust setup has users in the “USER” domain, and the computers joined to the “RESOURCE” domain.  We’ll use those names, but “RESOURCE” could be a DMZ zone, or a partner system, or anything else.  For this discussion, we’ll use the following 2 forests:
ROOT.LOCAL
USER.ROOT.LOCAL

RESOURCE.LOCAL

RESOURCE has a 1-way outbound trust to USER (RESOURCE trusts USER, but accounts in RESOURCE cannot access the USER or ROOT domains. ROOT users cannot log into RESOURCE either)

In Windows, there are 4 kinds of groups ,with different purposes and limitations.  These limitations change slightly depending on the AD forest functional level (nesting is much more restrictive in older Forest Functional levels).  This document describes the AD groups: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn579255(v=ws.11).aspx but to recap the AD group types are “Domain Local”, “Domain Global”, and “Universal”. The 4th is “Computer Local Group” which you manage in the “Local Users and Groups” plugin to the “Computer Management” snap-in in the Windows OS (not in AD).  On Linux, this last one equates somewhat to groups in /etc/group.

  • Universal Groups: can contain any: Domain Global group, Universal Group, or User/Computer account in the same AD forest as the Universal Group.  Universal Groups are stored in the Global Catalog, making updates to them slower than other group types.  You can use them to control rights on any resource anywhere in the forest.
  • Domain Global Groups: can contain any Domain Global group or User/Computer account from the same Domain as the Domain Global group. Domain Global groups can be used to control rights on any resource anywhere in the forest.
  • Domain Local Groups: can contain pretty much any Group from any trusted domain, including across 1-way trusts. Domain Local groups can ONLY go into Domain Local groups in the same domain, or Computer Local groups in Computers on that Domain.  Domain Local groups can only be used to control rights on a resource in the same domain as the local group.

Of note: Universal groups store (in the AD database) a DN reference, which is part of why they can only contain objects form the same domain.  Domain Local groups store a SID reference, which is why they work across one-way trusts. (Domain Local Group membership contains a “foreignKeyReference” as the members, whereas Universal Groups contain a link to the GC object in the DIT which is expanded to the DN of the object on retrieval (meaning that if you move the member, the Universal Group membership doesn’t need to be updated, because the UUID of the object referenced by the link didn’t change).

Think of it this way: Users go into Universal and Domain Global groups.  Domain Global groups go into Domain Local Groups.  Domain Local groups are used to control access to Local resources in the Domain.  What this means is that if USER\rob is in the Domain Local group USER\dlg1, and accesses a server file01.root.local: file01 doesn’t even see that USER\rob is in USER\dlg1, because USER\dlg1 isn’t in the ROOT domain that file01 is in.  AD doesn’t even bother returning any foreign Domain Local groups in the Kerberos Ticket PAC (in the TGS) to file01, since that group can’t be used to control resources outside of the USER domain.

For our BeyondTrust ADB / PBIS (or any other 1-way-enabled AD Bridge like Samba) one-way trust setup, then, which groups can we provision into the cell / Computers in RESOURCE?  PBIS specifically is less restrictive than AD, and will allow you to import the Domain Global and Universal, and even if you try hard enough, the Domain Local groups from USER into the cell in RESOURCE, and use LDAP calls to attempt to resolve the Universal and Domain Global groups and their membership, because everything I just stated above is pretty difficult to explain to a Unix admin on a tech support call. In other words: the BeyondTrust PBIS Product will export the USER Domain Local groups to the RESOURCE domain computers, so that the Unix admins don’t have to know anything in this post.

But, when I’m designing a PBIS Cell design for a customer, I will try to design the customer to build Domain Local groups in the RESOURCE domain, and populate those groups into the Cell, with the membership coming from the USER domain.  This meets the AD design methodologies, means that the Unix team can be delegated rights to control the group membership in the RESOURCE domain themselves, but not have any rights to any user accounts in USER. This also means that any Active Directory auditing tools will pick up and audit the users properly, and when PBIS / BeyondTrust ADB drops this “nice enablement”, the customers I have worked with won’t need to make changes to their environment.

Edit:
The information in this post came primarily from: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/previous-versions/windows/it-pro/windows-server-2008-R2-and-2008/dd861330(v=ws.11)
and
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/previous-versions/windows/it-pro/windows-server-2003/cc755692(v=ws.10)
When I originally wrote this in late 2017.