Linux and Mac Fileshares, Now Appearing in Windows

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted Sep 15, 2009


The practical reality of many enterprises and data centers today is that they use heterogeneous operating system environments. Having disparate systems can sometimes present challenges to users and administrators from an access and authentication standpoint.

It may be an Active Directory world, but Likewise Open 5.3 makes it possible for Linux and Mac users to join in the conversation.

Open source vendor Likewise has one solution to this dilemma. The company released Likewise Open 5.3 last week under the GPLv2 license, providing a new open source solution for access and authentication across Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

Likewise developers see their solution as being competitive with Samba, which ships with all Linux distributions, but note that Likewise Open does the directory piece as well.

"From a pragmatic standpoint, there is really just one directory infrastructure that is the corporate mainstay. That is Active Directory," Krishna Ganugapati, vice president of engineering at Likewise told InternetNews.com.

"Over 90 percent of the Fortune 1000 deploy Active Directory as their primary directory. Likewise is an authentication agent for non-Windows systems that allow them to become first class citizens in an Active Directory environment," he said.

Likewise Open is the open source umbrella project sponsored by Likewise Software that builds a Windows compatible distributed systems framework. There are two key components to the Likewise Open effort, which debuted with the 5.2 beta release in July of this year. They are LWIS, an Active Directory authentication engine for Linux/UNIX/Mac and Likewise-CIFS, the SMB/CIFS file server stack.

With the 5.3 release, Likewise is adding Mac and Linux Server Message Block (SMB) support as well as what Ganugapati referred to as significant performance enhancements.

Likewise also has a commercial Enterprise release providing Active Directory integration for Linux. Novell has been shipping Likewise Enterprise as part of SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Desktop (SLED). A Novell spokesperson told InternetNews.com that the firm see Likewise Enterprise as a great complement to their Windows integration strategy for SLED customers. Novell had no specific comment on the Likewise Open effort or Likewise-CIFS.

Likewise Vs. Samba

Samba is part of every Linux distributions and for millions of Linux users, Samba is often the glue that enables them to share files across Windows and Linux. So how is Likewise Open different?

Ganugapati noted that Likewise Open provides a fully open source, programmable distributed systems platform, as opposed to a network server application that the Samba file server is. He added that the foundational principle of Likewise-CIFS framework is to allow ISVs, programmers to write to the Likewise Open platform.

"There is no technical relationship with Samba on the development of Likewise-CIFS or LWIS," Ganugapati said. "However, Likewise engineers desire and maintain a cordial, professional and mutually respectful relationship with members of the Samba team."

Likewise runs the Likewise Open project as an open source project, with external contributions welcome. Ganugapati commented that from a comparison standpoint, Likewise Open is run similar to the Apache and Mono projects.

"For contributions, Likewise requires an individual copyright assignment and a corporate copyright assignment," Ganugapati said. "In fact, we have based our assignment agreement on the Apache assignment agreement."

Ganugapati said that Likewise has received several hundred contributions to the project to date. He feels his customers will determine where Likewise will go next in terms of new features.

"Likewise is not an Active Directory company or a file server company," Ganugapati said. "We are in the business of writing software that allows disparate operating systems to work better with each other. Today we are focusing on authentication, management and file servers but we are constantly talking to our customers about what additional areas we should pursue."

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Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

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