Likewise improves bridge between Active Directory, Linux

Version 6 of Open Active Directory, which links Macintosh, Linux or Unix computers to Microsoft Active Directory, features a speed boost

Likewise Software has released a new version of its open-source authentication software for allowing Linux, Apple Macintosh, and commercial Unix-based computers to hook into Microsoft Active Directory controlled servers and networks.

Version 6 of this open source software speeds the client log-on time and works better in large, complex environments, according to Gerald Carter, director of engineering for Likewise. The upgraded software also comes with an improved service manager and installation manager as well.

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When installed on Macintosh, Linux, or Unix computers, Likewise Open can allow users to sign onto a network whose access is controlled by Active Directory. The software also includes a management console for administrators.

The client software uses the same protocols that a Windows machine would use to interact with Active Directory, including Kerberos and the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. The software recognizes all the Active Directory policies, such as the restricting of log-ins, the enforcement of password policies and the cataloguing of computers to specific domains.

Likewise Software follows the open-core model for releasing Likewise Open, in which the core authentication software is open source, but the company sells an enterprise version of the software with additional management tools.

The enterprise edition has a group policy agent for managing non-Microsoft clients, as well software for auditing and reporting services for logging successful and failed log-ins.

The Likewise Open core is licensed under GPL (Gnu Public License) version 2 and Lesser GPL version 2.

In version 6, client log-ins should take less time, Carter said. In internal benchmarks, a log-in that used to take upwards of 40 seconds -- which was not uncommon for users who are part of several hundred Active Directory groups -- has been cut to seven to 10 seconds. The speed up came thanks to internal code restructuring, Carter said.

The service manager has been upgraded as well. It now allow administrators to control the boot-up sequences of all versions of Likewise Open, regardless of whether they are running on Linux, Unix or Macintosh computers.

Given that each platform has a slightly different procedure for starting or stopping services, administrators used to have to interact with each type of computer differently, depending on the operating system. With the new version, "we gave administrators a common model for managing the start ups and shutdowns," Carter said.

Ubuntu 10.04, released by Canonical in April, included a version of Likewise Open. Citrix, Hewlett-Packard, Novell, and VMware have embedded Likewise Open within their software packages.

Likewise Open is available for free download and an enterprise version will be commercially available within the month, Carter said.

Joab Jackson covers enterpise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's email address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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