27 Mar 2011

Likewise 6 - Instant Integration

The core of our Linux workshop revolves around the integration of Linux desktops into Microsoft Active Directory via a utility produced by US company Likewise. As such we were most keen to evaluate v6, their most recent release. The following review is based on a basic installation to MS Server 2003 SP2 with the concurrent client installed to Ubuntu 10.04.1 Desktop.

We’d already experienced a pleasing performance increase from the latest Likewise Open client so were expecting a similar boost with Enterprise, however from the word go it was apparent there was much more on offer. Version 5.3 (Enterprise) was (and still is) a great product but requires a degree of post install administration to level out a base GPO config across linked cells. Version 6 is an instantly more polished product delivering a hand held, coherent and inclusive integration procedure which starts at the initial DVD splash with an easy tabbed menu (fig:1), simply select your platform (32 or 64 bit) and away you go.

Fig 1 : Initial installation window.

You’re guided through a few simple steps which usefully install all the required MS tools (fig:2) and finish by opening the Likewise admin console to create a linked Likewise Cell (fig:3) and GPO for you, a superb and most welcome procedural upgrade from Version 5 and one which works seamlessly, cutting out a whole section of previously required extra config.

Fig 2 : Windows tools installer advisory.

Fig 3 : Cell creation (location).

Another nice touch during new cell creation is the  GPO “prepend” option (fig:4) which once you’re ready to roll client side means there’s no requirement to type a full domain string to logon, you can dive straight in with username only, much cleaner, you’re also given the option to auto-link your installation account (invariably “Administrator”) with the created cell & GPO. We did notice that configured policy wasn’t enforced by default however as it’s something you’d check (and more than likely add to) prior to client logon it’s probably not even worth mentioning.

Fig 4 : GPO Creation advisory.

On the Ubuntu workstation things are equally as refined and a simple sudo ./install.sh command executed from the Enterprise DVD (or .ISO) root recognises your platform, kicks off the installation and finishes by opening the domain join GUI for you (a nice touch). Domain-join was virtually instant and after the statutory reboot we created a user account in ADUC, enabled it for the Likewise cell and logged on, job done.

As an idea of just how streamlined Likewise have made Version 6 the full installation (including Active Directory, DNS config and making a coffee) took us no more than 30 minutes max from empty server instance to logged on domain-joined client.

*NOTES* – Pre-install it’s good to raise your domain & forest functional levels (if possible) to Server 2003 as Likewise schema mode is more readily received. Installation across a 2000 domain will still proceed with no performance hit, however raising the level provides tighter RFC 2307 integration with AD, basically it’s a good thing to do. Also, ensure your Ubuntu workstation can “see” your domain, this is best done through interface (eth0) & /etc/hosts config.

If you’re interested in getting “Hands-On” with Likewise feel free to contact us for information regarding bespoke consultancy and/or integration solutions for Likewise or any of the other services we offer.

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