Centeris brings Linux and Microsoft together

Unix and Windows system managers and administrators often occupy two different worlds, but one company is trying to bring them together

A tool launched earlier this month may provide a solution for companies who want to roll out Linux but don't have systems managers trained in open source implementations.

Likewise, launched recently by Seattle-based Centeris, allows companies to manage Linux servers and applications using the tools they use to run Microsoft systems.

"Linux and Windows live in different worlds, and we help them work better together," said Manny Vellon, the vice-president of product development for Centeris. "Our software lets you use Microsoft tools to manage Linux."

A crucial feature of Likewise, according to Centeris, is that it enables Linux users and servers to work with Microsoft's Active Directory and use its authentication system for both Linux and Microsoft users seamlessly. Similarly, Microsoft file, print and Web servers can work with both types of system, making it easier for administrators trained in Microsoft systems to control Linux users and systems.

Likewise also allows administrators to use Microsoft tools to manage Apache Web servers.

"The Linux approach is to offer 110 percent of the functionality anybody wants hard to access," claimed Vellon. "Our software makes it easier to use that functionality."

Centeris is a start-up backed by Seattle-based venture capital. Likewise has been available in beta for some time and is now in production at a retail price of $329 (£185) per server for a perpetual licence. Support and upgrades add an additional 20 percent to the price.

"We have had a lot of interest in Likewise and 800 unique companies have downloaded the software," said Vellon, "Over half of those companies are European."

Vellon said that Centeris will also offer an open-source version of the product but that this would not include the Active X and Apache components.