Cant Windows and Linux Just Get Along?

Review: Management suite easily integrates linux systems into Windows networks.

Centeris Likewise Management Suite makes it easy for Windows network administrators to configure and monitor most Linux systems, including integrating Linux systems into Microsofts Active Directory.

Version 2.0 of the Likewise Management Suite, which was released on Aug. 8 at a price of $349 per managed server, provides tools for managing firewalls and SSH (Secure Shell) console connections, and it offers a dashboard with system status information, as well as a new interface for managing users and groups. Likewise 2.0 also supports direct editing of network settings.

IT administrators at small and midsize businesses who need to integrate Linux-based servers into an existing Windows network will probably benefit the most from Likewise 2.0.

The previous version of Likewise often required the use of MMC (Microsoft Management Console) to perform tasks. Likewise 2.0, in contrast, uses simple, integrated user interface components that resemble Windows tools for managing users and groups and viewing events and services.

Getting Likewise 2.0 installed on eWeek Labs network was quite easy. We installed Likewise 2.0 on a Hewlett-Packard ProLiant DL360 running Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition.

Once the Likewise 2.0 software was installed, we started the console and followed the products simple directions for deploying Likewise agents to our Linux systems.

Our network included systems running Red Hats RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) ES 4, the CentOS Projects CentOS 4.2 and Canonicals Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (Long Term Support). We were able to easily install the Likewise 2.0 agent on the Red Hat ES and CentOS systems, but not on the Ubuntu system (currently not a supported operating system). Likewise 2.0 supports various flavors of RHEL, Red Hats Fedora Core, CentOS and Novells SUSE Linux. Wed like to see Centeris add support for Debian-based distros, including Ubuntu.

The biggest pain point during testing was agent installation: Likewise 2.0 takes a one-at-a-time approach, and it took between 5 and 10 minutes to install the agent on each of our systems. However, the agent installation process did a good job of keeping us informed of installation status, and no agent failed to install on any of the supported operating systems.

After adding the agents to our systems, we set about performing management tasks. First, we added local users to Linux systems using a familiar, Windows-like graphic interface. We could set and reset passwords, and delete, rename and set properties that governed password usage.

Likewise 2.0 really shone when we added user groups to our RHEL system from our Windows Active Directory, or AD, setup. We used the AD groups interface to create new groups, add users to existing groups and modify the properties of existing groups.

Direct competitors to Likewise 2.0 are scarce, but there are some similar products available.

Centrifys DirectControl Suite 3, for example, focuses on extending AD capabilities over many flavors of Linux, Unix and Apple Computers Mac OS systems, and its AD and identity tools go beyond Likewise 2.0s offerings.

Also somewhat related to Likewise 2.0 is OpenCountrys OCM 3.0 Universal Systems Management Suite, which unifies management over various Linux distributions.

Technical Director Cameron Stur-devant can be reached at

Executive Summary

Likewise Management Suite 2.0 Centeris Likewise Management Suite 2.0 allows network administrators to easily manage a variety of Linux systems using familiar Windows interfaces and leveraging Microsofts Active Directory structure.

Through Likewise 2.0, system administrators can create and remove file shares, set up print services, and configure firewalls on Linux systems without using the command line. Likewise 2.0 is best suited for SMBs that already use Windows systems but are bringing Linux systems on board. For more information, go to

Evaluation Shortlist

BMCs IT Systems Management Express

An all-in-one heterogeneous management package for SMBs that covers identity, storage and server management (

Centrifys DirectControl

Focuses on extending Active Directory identity to non-Windows systems (

OpenCountrys OCM Universal Systems Management Suite

For system administrators who have graduated from managing a few Linux systems to managing a lot of Linux systems (

Quest Softwares Vintela Authentication Services

Tightly focused on identity management (

Source: F-Secure