|Site Index - Feedback - Imprint|
NetOp Remote Control
In many companies a number of different operating systems are used. The list ranges from Unix, Linux in its large number of incarnations to OS/2 and the various Windows versions.
To prevent the system administrator from going nuts there exist a couple of solutions to centralize the administration. Linux and Solaris are connected via their X-System of which emulations for OS/2 (e.g. HOB X11, XFree86/2) exist. For Windows these emulations exist too, one of the best known might be eXceed or HOB. This allows to remotely control any Unix or unixlike system from almost anywhere - the application displays it's frames on the client machine while the program itself runs on Unix/Linux.
But how is it the other way around? How can you get your Windows desktop on your local OS/2 machine? Well, Windows itself provides no means to do this. Microsoft has been very eager to install Windows on the market as the primary gaming platform, paying minor attention to interconnectivity. The basic network programs like ftp and telnet are - of course - present but there is no way to get your Windows desktop on your OS/2 pc. This might have strategic reasons.
Now there are other companies to fill the gap. There are products like Carbon Copy, Control It, Cosession, LapLink, Net Support Manager, PC Anywhere, Remote Manager, Timbuktu and the danish company "Danware Data A/S" with their product "NetOp Remote Control". The latter has been available as a new version for a couple of weeks now, supporting Windows 2000, NT 4.0, NT 3.51, Win98, Win95, Win3.1 as well as OS/2 which is supported down to version 1.3. Of course this includes eComStation too. And last but not least there is still a version for DOS.
While "Desktop On Call" is a solution based on a webserver/browser combination (you just enter the url of the hostmachine in the url bar of your browser, authenticate and get your desktop displayed inside the browser window) NetOp Remote Control is a stand alone application.
Danware Data A/S
The danish company Danware Data A/S is producing remote controlling software since 1987. Version 1.0 did only run on DOS but already in 1993 an OS/2 Version has been added to their portfolio. By the time support for the Windows versions has been added, the range of supported networking protocols has grown. The last addition to the product palette is "NetOp School", a product that makes it possible to administrate machines and demonstrate actions on the display of students without having to leave the teacher's seat
New in version 6.5
To fit into almost any kind of network configurations NetOp Remote Control supports following protocols:
Modules available for OS/2
NetOp Remote Control consists of different modules. They are the same for all supported platforms.
All modules can be installed separately.
The installation is quite simple: On the first page of the installation program the desired modules can be chosen and the target-path can be set. The software takes only 4.6MB of space on the harddisk even when performing a full installation. The second page asks for the registration keys which have to entered separately for every module. The timebombed testversion already had these keys entered into the entryfields so it was enough to confirm them. After this the installation starts. The program finishes by allowing the user to read the documentation or gives the possibility to automatically start the programs at system startup, drivers have to be added to the CONFIG.SYS, objects can be added to the desktop. A reboot is required to load the drivers, the successful initialization of the drivers can be checked during startup.
The default configuration is easy. It is enough to select the desired protocols on both host and client, several protocols can be used at the same time. On host-side accessrights have to be defined. The simplest configuration is to create a user, assign a password and that's all. From that point it only takes a single mouseclick to establish the connection. As an alternative it is possible to launch the programs at startup so the connection is established automatically. If necessary the host waits until a client tries to connect.
Functionality for daily use
The most frequently used functionality is the remote maintenance. This is done by simply bringing the display of a remote machine onto the desktop of the local machine. The administrator might then work on the remote machine as if it were the local one. As long as client and host use identical display resolutions it is possible to switch into fullscreen mode which makes it impossible to tell the difference between a local or and a remote machine. NetOp is a well optimized piece of software that allows working effectively, even a Pentium with a 166 MHz CPU can still be used as host. But this is certainly the limit - a slower system will be a real pain to work on.
The Filemanager is some kind of a "Norton Commander" clone that displays the files in to windows - one window for the host, the other one for the client. This allows to transfer files back and forth easily and quite fast. It is possible to use scripts to perform frequent tasks.
If a user requests assistance it is possible to use the voice- or text-chat to communicate and to explain what's happening on the users screen - when the mouse pointer appears to be moving across the screen by magic.
No network activity without security. The reasons to use various security mechanisms in a network are many. The most obvious is - of course - to prevent others from gaining access to sensitive information. Or the personal data of a company's employees should not be accessible to everyone. The minimal protection one can imagine is a combination of loginname and password. But this usually is far from sufficient. NetOp Remote Control comes with a hole bunch of security mechanisms.
Global security settings
Settings for the guest on host-side
With these tools and options a decent level of security can be granted.
The Access-Server as well is just a small window on the desktop from where everything can be controlled. The configuration is - as it is in all modules - almost self-explanatory and doesn't ask for things an average administrator isn't able to handle. The configuration is spit up in five parts:
The server provides a centralized security management for all modules. Information about hosts, host groups, access-profiles and guests are held in a database. Of course an authentication is required on guest- and host-side to gain access. It is possible to export and import the data from and to the database.
The logserver stores it's information on one single machine. All information is stored as csv (comma/character separated values) and can easily be imported to the application of your choice - e.g. StarOffice - for further evaluation. Transferring the data into a "real" database is - of course - possible too. By default the date, timestamp, host-id, guest-id, event, passed arguments and errorcodes are written into the log. For this to work - as with all servers - an active network connection is required with the limitation that the logserver only supports the protocols TCP/IP, IPX or NetBIOS.
The NetOp Gateway supports routing in, routing out, internal routing and routing from gateway to gateway.
All in all NetOp Remote Control 6.5 is sophisticated product. The installation is very easy and can be performed by almost everyone with basic knowledge of computers. The functionality of the modules has matured over the time, using the product is simple. You can feel the many years of expertise Danware Data A/S has in this area. The straight forward design brings you a couple of small easy to use modules with moderate memory requirements, high speed and stability. There have been no crashes during the testing period which lasted well over one month of daily use. Test with different configurations, firewalls etc. didn't bring up any problems. It would be a good thing if the limitations mentioned above could be removed so all platforms really support the same functionality. And the handling of special situations like configuring automatic start of the guest while the driver is not loaded - this causes the Guest to loop for an infinite time thus eventually blocking the WPS.
In Germany you can order a demo cd at following addresses. For non-Germans it is a good idea to go directly to Danware A/S they will tell you where to find a dealer that is close to your location.