Centeris opens up as Likewise

The company has a cool product which just got better as open source.

I've waited for this one for a long time. Centeris had always been an interesting company, given that it makes it possible to manage Mac, Linux, and Windows machines through Microsoft's Active Directory. Instead of allowing Microsoft to lock in its users to its own ecosystem, exclusively, Centeris enables enterprises to choose the desktop clients that work best for them, while still benefiting from Active Directory.

Now Centeris has changed its name to Likewise, the name of its flagship product, and has open sourced some of its code as Likewise Open. Red Hat and Canonical (Ubuntu) are set to include the code in upcoming releases of their Linux products. (Novell has been using Likewise for some time.) The potential is exciting, as Java Developers Journal suggests:

The widgetry offers a single user name and password on both Windows and Linux; Active Directory security settings can be applied to individual Linux machines to enforce password complexity and aging; there's single sign-on for SSH and PuTTY; and credential caching for offline log on if you temporarily lose connection to the Active Directory Domain controller.

Likewise was opened up at the same time the company upgraded to Likewise 4.0, which supports 500-odd Active Directory group policies for managing non-Windows systems; Linux desktops; Active Directory management from Linux and Unix machines via the Likewise console; and links cells to shared attributes across organizational units.

It's one thing to expect the world to go open source overnight. It's another, more pragmatic vision to assume that this will take time and that in the interim, there's a lot of great software with which one should integrate, rather than annihilate. Likewise assumes that enterprises have already made purchasing decisions and allows them to maximize the value of existing deployments while still embracing alternative platforms to Windows.

Open sourcing Likewise is a great, welcome move.