Centeris Likewise 1 review
Integrating Linux servers into Windows networks has never been straightforward, requiring a depth of knowledge of Linux unlikely to be found in a Windows-based organisation. Administration is also problematical, and the lack of a clear line of support compared to the Windows equivalents is a further deterrent. However, as Linux systems have matured and business-orientated distributions have become available, integrating these systems is much more attractive. The technical and administrative challenges remain, however, especially when Microsoft’s Active Directory (AD) is added to the mix. Several attempts to deal with these issues have come from the Linux community, but their Linux-based approach often deters Windows users.
Centeris Likewise adopts the opposite strategy, with management software running on Windows platforms, and agent software installed on the Linux servers. This Windows-centric approach makes it more attractive when considering Linux for specific tasks such as departmental servers, Intranets and possibly Internet web servers. Centeris Likewise simplifies the process and removes the pain, automating the difficult task of AD integration. It also works with minimum fuss, installing its agents and upgrading Linux components as needed.
The primary management tool is Centeris Likewise Console. This tabbed two-pane display provides administration for any Windows or Linux server on the network. There are wizards for several tasks, most importantly for installing the agent on a Linux server and integrating it into AD. Other tasks include adding networked printers, printer drivers and creating shared folders. It can also set up and manage web servers, provided that they use Apache 2 on Linux.
The Printers tab provides a simple way to install server-attached printers and drivers. It offers familiar Windows management options, no matter which OS is hosting a printer. The Shared Folders tab is an area where the system is particularly useful. Anyone who’s tried to integrate a Samba server into Windows AD knows just how problematic it can be, and how confusing it can be for support staff to set up Samba file shares when they’re used to using Windows file-sharing management software. Centeris Likewise presents the familiar Windows screens, and the type of host system is indicated by the references to Samba in the various window headings. It can manage shares on Windows servers with equal ease.
Web server administration is one area where the presentation deviates from the Windows model, but since Apache is quite unlike Internet Information Services that’s no surprise. Despite this, the interface should feel familiar to those who are used to IIS. For those who prefer Microsoft’s Management Console, Centeris also provides Centeris MMC, which can be launched as a standalone app to manage any server or invoked from the Centeris Console. When invoked from a Centeris Console tab, MMC is connected to the remote machine and set up to administer file shares on the target system. The standalone version provides access to the same management options provided by the Likewise Console, but with a system performance monitor display as well.
With its ability to integrate and manage Linux and Windows servers in an AD environment using the same management software for both, Centeris Likewise has a lot to offer. Any sysadmin faced with this kind of network should give it serious consideration.