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Xandros Desktop Management Server Illustrates a Maturing Linux Market

The Need for Enterprise Desktop Administration

  • January 6, 2005
  • By Bill von Hagen

One of the classic indicators of the maturity of any software platform is the existence of enterprise-caliber administrative software. Companies such as Tivoli, now an IBM subsidiary, Computer Associates, and many others have made this space their bread and butter. Xandros, purveyors of fine Xandros Linux distributions for home and business use, recently introduced their Xandros Desktop Management Server (xDMS) software to fill exactly this need for Xandros Linux users and administrators.

It's easy enough to install a Linux distribution on a zillion desktops, one at a time, but it's incredibly time-consuming and obviously not an enterprise solution. Folks like Red Hat have largely punted on the desktop space, while companies such as Novell have stepped up to demonstrate an increased focus there thanks to their acquisition of SUSE.

However, the real key to successful penetration of the desktop space is the availability of administrative tools that make it easy to deploy, update, and manage Linux installations across multiple desktops. Tools like YaST2 (SUSE), the surprisingly unlamented linuxconf (Red Hat's old centralized administrative utility), and others are fine for tweaking local settings, but administrators in an enterprise environment need an easy way to set up and manage hundreds of largely identical systems.

Administrators need to be able to provide standard but customized installations to satisfy the requirements of various groups, while standardizing infrastructure requirements such as printer configuration, user accounts and authentication, network filesystems, and all of the other components of a true enterprise-wide computing environment. A distributed installation, deployment, and configuration management tool is the only sane way to do that, and it is precisely this need that xDMS addresses for sites that have adopted Xandros Linux as their Linux distribution of choice.

While still a young product and not without a speed bump or two, xDMS is a nicely-designed and well-thought out product that currently makes it easy to deploy and manage Xandros Desktop OS Business Edition, version 2.6. Given that version 3.0 of Xandros Linux was recently released and an updated business edition is slated for January, an updated version of xDMS is sure to follow that will make it similarly easy to deploy and manage version 3.0 on any desktop that is reachable by an Ethernet connection.

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