Centeris has decided to open source part of its Likewise Management Suite software.

The company has put the software on SourceForge, rather than its own website, as a way to ensure a wide distribution, according to Centeris CEO Barry Crist. "SourceForge is the first place developers look for open-source projects," he said. The download will be available from 18 November.

The start-up released the beta release of Likewise Management Suite earlier this week. It lets you manage Linux servers from a Windows network. "We had 500 downloads in the first three days, one third of them from Germany," Crist said. The full version of Likewise is due to appear in December.

Likewise Open Agent carries out simple Linux server admin tasks from the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), predominantly file and print sharing as well as monitoring system performance metrics. MMC is a group of admin tools from Microsoft that ship with its Windows OS. For more sophisticated management tasks such as handling Microsoft's Active Directory or the open-source Apache web server, customers need to use the commercial suite.

The open-source code will be available under the Common Development and Distribution License version 1.0.

So far, Likewise only supports the two leading Linux distributions from Novell and Red Hat. Should Centeris see customer demand for support for other Linux distributions, it may provide them or look to the open-source community to do so, Crist said. The startup's ultimate goal for Likewise Open Agent is to have the software ship with Linux distributions, he added, and Centeris is already in talks with the distribution companies.