New software will let sysadmins manage Linux servers from within Windows.

The beta software from start-up Centeris makes it the third company attempting to offer interoperability between the two operating systems. Likewise 1.0 is targeted at IT managers in mid-size and large companies struggling to manage combinations of Windows and Linux servers.

"The two platforms don't work well together," said Centeris CEO, Barry Crist. "We allow Linux servers to have a specific role in a Windows network."

Using Likewise, sysadmins can join Linux servers to Microsoft's Active Directory, enabling them to manage and monitor the Linux servers through either Likewise or Microsoft Management Console.

Centeris has been beta-testing Likewise with about 20 users. One is Steve Berg, IT manager for broadcast TV equipment vendor, Omneon Video, who said Likewise was "super easy to use" and install.

"I had my Windows system administrator - who was not Linux savvy - play with it, and he was amazed at how he has this wealth of information at his fingertips," Berg said. "I was configuring Apache and file-sharing as if I was on a Windows server."

Shipments of Linux servers are expected to increase from 1.4 million units this year to 2.4 million in 2010, according to Gartner. But that growth rate could be even higher with the help of vendors of Windows-Linux interoperability products, including start-ups like Centeris and established companies such as Centrify and Vintela which is now owned by Quest.

The company expects to release the final version of Likewise 1.0 in December, Crist said. Pricing is set at $350 for a perpetual licence per server managed. The company also plans to offer support for Likewise; pricing for that offering hasn't been determined.