This post originally written for my personal blog on June 14th 2009.
As a systems administrator in many mixed Windows and linux environments I have seen and made many of my own attempts at integrating the linux servers into the Windows Active Directory structure with mixed results. Linux registration and authentication inside of a Windows domain is akin to the bigfoot: some have claimed to see one, many have worked long hours to find them, no one can produce consistent results. Until now.
At the suggestion by a coworker I decided to give Likewise a try on my most recent attempt at bringing our linux servers into the windows domain. Skeptically I built a new CentOS 5.3 server and proceeded to follow the instructions for installing Likewise. The seemed too simple and with each step I waited for the fatal issue that would bring the test to it's demise. Software installed, no issues. As I reviewed the instructions for adding the system to the domain and found that it only required one command and no further configuration of files I thought, "This is so going to fall on it's face." Command executed and I'm waiting, then it comes up on the screen: Success. Success? Really? I don't believe it, I log onto the domain controller and there it is, right where new computers are supposed to go in the domain. I quickly flip over to the manual and look up how to authenticate for ssh, simple DOMAIN\\username@host, and give it the final test. Success. In the span of 15 minutes I was able to install the app, add my computer to the domain and authenticate against the domain. 15 more minutes and I was able to limit who could log in and give them sudo access. This is a huge win for any admin who deals with linux servers in a domain.
I'm still testing the limits of Likewise and I will say that it hasn't been without it's speed bumps but I plan on paying for a little support and getting the answers I need. Like may open source products, Likewise is making it's money on support and by selling upgraded functionality. I applaud this model, allowing the flexibility of open source while still finding a way to pay for all that hard work. I will be continuing to test the limits of Likewise but as of now I am thoroughly impressed and will continue to use it.