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Xandros Desktop Management Server Illustrates a Maturing Linux Market - page 2

The Need for Enterprise Desktop Administration

  • January 6, 2005
  • By Bill von Hagen

The xDMS installer is based on the same easy-to-use installer used with Xandros Desktop OS Linux distributions. Figure 1 shows one of the standard screens from the installation sequence, the Administrative Options screen in which you set the root password and define a few basic security policies.

The only novel part of the xDMS installation is the fact that it requests not only the password for the root user (standard stuff), but also the account name and password for the primary xDMS authenticated user. As explained in more detail later in this review, xDMS provides it own authentication and delegation mechanism for the users who can use it to create and deploy distributions and updates.

As an administrative environment rather than an end-user workstation, xDMS focuses on well-established kernel revisions and infrastructure. Based on Debian 4.0 (Sarge), xDMS uses a 2.4.27 Linux kernel with some Xandros enhancements and bug fixes, and features Xandros' enhanced version of the KDE 3.1.4 desktop, supported by XFree86 version 4.3. KDE fans may be aghast at the absence of the thousands of k* utilities that typically accompany a KDE installation, but their absence highlights xDMS's focus on serving as a basic administrative environment. It also removes the temptation of playing Doom on your administrative console while your Zimbabwe office is trying to update their systems from your server.

Aside from the core Xandros Linux distribution that supports it, Xandros Desktop Management Server product consists of three main components. The xDMS Repository Builder enables you to import Xandros Linux distributions and Debian DEB packages that you can group into what are known as Installation Units. The xDMS Console application enables you to export existing installation units for deployment, schedule the availability of system updates for remote systems, and so on. Finally, the xDMS Administrator enables you to delegate the authority to other users and groups beyond the default xdmsadmin user that was created when you installed xDMS.

Easy-access icons for all of the core components of xDMS are installed on the xDMS desktop. The next few sections provide an overview of using each of these and how they work together.

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