Thoughts on Centrify

Centrify Express is a gratis but not open source client for integrating various platforms (such as Linux and Mac) to active directory. I wrote about Likewise Open before when trying to get Linux on Active Directory with some success. Today I deployed Centrify on a few machines to see if it could fare any better.

Ubuntu 10.04 Server: Centrify worked very well for this. Likewise open has many bugs that annoy me in Ubuntu so that’s what really motivated me to try something new. I ran into a little trouble installing it, but after running apt-get -f install it worked fine. Likewise in Ubuntu has a default domain bug and it also doesn’t seem to like installing on my Proxmox template for some reason. Of course Centrify isn’t (and probably never will be) in Ubuntu’s repositories which make it slightly harder to install.

Ubuntu 10.04 Desktop: Desktop support is always where I get problems in trying to make linux work in Active Directory. The biggest annoyance is getting it to work in a wifi environment. Turn on wireless laptop, new user logs in, authentication failure. It has to do with network-manager not really connecting as soon as you think it would (even if available to all users is checked off). This is what really kills Linux for me in a place where people need to use different computers (ie school). Removing network-manager fixes it somewhat, but I still have issues where I have to wait a few minutes before it allows domain logins. It does at least appear that Centrify works as soon as network is available while likewise seems to just sit for a couple minutes before it works. Centrify however is missing some features that are a great in a company network. Likewise will pass on login information to pam and when connecting to samba shares. Centrify does not (edit, it can be made to work with pam_mount with some work arounds). Also when I log in with GDM in centrify I have to enter the password twice for gnome-keyring to work then again every time I connect to a samba share. There is a “centrified” version of Samba that I wasn’t able to get installed. Likewise just works in this case.

Centrify Pro’s:

  • Less buggy to set up
  • Assumes default domain
  • Mitigates wifi issue at least a little bit

Centrify Con’s

  • Not open source
  • Not in Ubuntu repository
  • Must enter password twice on login for gnome-keyring when using GDM, though there is a work around.
  • Doesn’t pass credentials to Samba shares
  • Little documentation. * edit they do have a pdf manual but they don’t have the forums history likewise does. When I Google Likewise <description of problem> I get results, while with Centrify I really have to hunt.

Once again Linux can integrate well with AD in server land but has issues for end user desktops. Workswithu did a article comparing the two programs too for those interested. Overall Centrify is an acceptable solution, but falls short of a Linux Active Directory integration that “just works.”

By David

I am a supporter of free software and run Burke Software and Consulting LLC. I am always looking for contract work especially for non-profits and open source projects. Open Source Contributions I maintain a number of Django related projects including GlitchTip, Passit, and django-report-builder. You can view my work on gitlab. Academic papers Incorporating Gaming in Software Engineering Projects: Case of RMU Monopoly in the Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (2008)

1 comment

  1. [Had some trouble with my first response, here is another try:]

    Hi David,

    Nice review, thanks for the post.

    Couple of updates you might be interested in: We are in the process of being added to the Canonical lucid partner repository. (check again next week?) Canonical has been kind enough to validate our .deb and we agree it will be a more convenient way for folks to leverage Centrify Express. When it is available I will post a note to the Centrify Express community site with instructions on how to enable the lucid partner repository, install and join a system to AD.

    We have tried a few times to reproduce the double authentication issues you ran into but are having trouble recreating the symptoms. If you have a chance can you post a procedure to repo the symptoms on our site?

    I noticed you also mentioned the slow wireless performance the We plan to take a look at this issue in more detail, please post any feedback/ideas you have in our community site.

    As for the documentation, you may have missed the Express Admin Guide with 178 pages of reference information (available in the same place as the download) or the many troubleshooting and configuration videos on the site? Or the FAQ at If you have any suggestion on additional topics you would like to have covered please post a question on the community site.

    Again, appreciate the look and hope you find Centrify Express useful.

    Corey Williams – a Centrify product manager


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