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Xandros Server: Pre-Packaged Power, Centralized - page 4

YALS--Yet Another Linux Server?

  • June 5, 2006
  • By Bill von Hagen

Centralized administrative tools are not new to Linux. SUSE's YaST2 is an excellent example of a coherent administrative framework that can be used by mere mortals. Knowing which utility to use and where to look for it is over half the battle on traditional Unix and Unix-like systems, and knowing that "it's in there somewhere" is comforting for both daily tasks and the occasional crisis. Xandros Server's Xandros Management Console (xMC) is a welcome addition to this domain. Many Linux devotees view centralized administration as orthogonal to the traditional Unix philosophy of small tools that do one thing and do it well. However, if you view unifying the administrative requirements of disparate software servers as the task and are using something other than a VT100 as your administrative console, then centralized, graphical admin tools aren't so alien after all.

Xandros xMC should feel quite familiar to the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), and provides the same sort of consistent interface for centralized administering a wide variety of servers and services. When you first start xMC, it displays a tree view of available servers and a status dialog summarizing which are running, for how long, and so on, as shown in Figure 1.

The xMC tool comes pre-loaded with configuration plugins for all of the servers that are installed as part of a default Xandros Server install. Some general-purpose tools, such as its Event Viewer, shown in Figure 2, provide a convenient way of reviewing, sorting, and filtering log messages from both servers and system services.

The Event Viewer comes with a number of preconfigured reports to display events of different types, and also makes it easy for you to create your own custom reports. Unfortunately, xMC doesn't provide any way of printing these reports. To print them, you must save them to a text file and then use a tool such as the KATE text editor to print them. Something for the next release, I guess.

If you need speedier feedback on significant events than generating and browsing reports, xMC's System Monitor plugin enables you define events that you want to watch for and associated an action (such as sending you mail) when they occur. Figure 3 shows the drop-down list of events that you can let the server watch for when defining a custom event.

Defining system events and associated trigger actions is a great feature, but could use a bit more granularity in the types of events you can watch for. For example, you can define a Network Connection event and associated action, but you can't specify things like ports to watch, the types of network events to watch for, and so on. It would be nice to be able to have some of the flexibility of open source tools like Snort and PortSentry here. Next release, please?

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