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Likewise Open polished with 6.0 release

Making non-Windows boxes friendlier with Active Directory

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Security for virtualized datacentres

The open source Likewise authentication tool for meshing Linux, Unix, and Mac OS systems into Windows Active Directory networks has been polished a bit for the Likewise Open 6.0 release.

Likewise Open is the open source variant of the tool is freely distributed — and is really a springboard to the money maker, Likewise Enterprise, which most definitely is neither open source nor free.

Likewise Open allows machines running Linux, Unix, or Mac OS to authenticate to Active Directory networks and provides single sign-on for clients, regardless of where they are coming from. Cached credentials, multiple trusts, and other goodies are also bundled into the open source variant.

But the extra goodies that enterprises might want, such as group policy management, audit and compliance tools, and an operations dashboard for server administrators are only in the Likewise Enterprise edition, which costs $1,000 for ten PCs and $4,200 for ten servers. There's also a combo starter pack that costs $2,500 for five servers and five PCs, and the company obviously gives big discounts for volume.

With Likewise Open 6.0, the software engineers have tightened up their code so logon times for users who are in many groups, and specifically large and complex groups, are not stuck watching the hourglass when they try to access a server somewhere.

The 6.0 update also now includes features that allow customers using earlier versions of the open source authentication tool to upgrade to the latest version without losing their current configuration settings. Why this wasn't always the case is a bit of a mystery, but some operating systems and other programs have the same — and equally annoying — problem when you make a version jump.

The 6.0 release is also smarter about how it starts up daemons so it doesn't break dependencies, allowing admins to maintain users on Unix, Linux, and Mac OS machines in the same way despite the differences in the platforms. Likewise Open 6.0 will also allow users working in complex Active Directory topologies, such as one-way trusts and multiple forests, to update their passwords without going nuts.

Likewise Open 6.0 is available now for download here. Likewise says that more than 50,000 companies worldwide are using this open source tool and that it is the most widely used authentication system for Mac, Linux, and Unix systems. Likewise Open gets about 3,000 downloads a month, Likewise says, and then gets other untracked use through its inclusion in the Canonical Ubuntu and Novell SUSE Linux distributions. ®

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