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Remote console up for grabs

May 27, 20033 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Adrem Free Remote Console Version 4 is free

One of the things that I’d wanted to look at during last month’s BrainShare (and that I didn’t get to see because I skipped the show) was the new version of Adrem’s free remote console utility. I touted Version 3 of FRC last fall, but I’d heard the Version 4 was even better.

Getting a copy of Version 4 at the show, though, was problematic. More than 2,000 copies were handed out the first day (and there were only 3,000 or so attendees!) and some people walked away empty handed. You can download it, though ( but, you may ask, “why would I want to?”

Well, I did mention that it’s free. But more importantly, it allows server console access from a remote location with full eDirectory authentication – something Novell’s own Rconsole doesn’t do. FRC also can use IPX/SPX or TCP/IP (it automatically senses which to use), again something that Rconsole can’t do.

Novell’s management tools are getting better – iManage in NetWare 6.5 will be the best tool yet. But none of NetWare’s management tools is complete and frequently you’ll need to visit the server console in order to do something. “Visiting” the server console in person could mean simply turning around in your chair, or booking a flight across country. No matter where the server is, though, it’s probably more efficient to access it remotely.

The first rule of server security is to eliminate physical access – keep your server in a locked room. Of course, that means it’s usually inconvenient to get to the server’s keyboard and monitor so Rconsole was created to make it easier. Unfortunately, Rconsole is the least secure NetWare utility you can imagine. As I mentioned last year, even Novell’s own publications advise that you “don’t use RCONSOLE for remote access to the server console. If you must use RCONSOLE, encrypt the password and set the server and workstation to use packet signature option 3” (see Novell ApNotes, June 2000, “NetWare Security: Closing the Door to Hackers”

Every NetWare manager should have a copy of Free Remote Console.

Once you’re familiar with FRC, you’ll be ready to look at its commercial (i.e., it’ll cost you) big brother, SFConsole. Because while FRC is more secure than Rconsole or Rconj, SFConsole adds a number of additional features, including these:

* Encryption of data sent using 128, 168 or 256 bit key.    

* Secure access via web browser.    

* Secure remote access from the Linux desktop.    

* Remote console proxy connection.    

* Management snap-ins for ConsoleOne and NWAdmin.    

* Optimized data transfer for WAN connections.    

* Ability to restrict access to selected screens and console commands.    

* Restricted access to local console (user must logon on server) and built-in screen saver.   

* Emergency access to console (in case when eDirectory is inaccessible).    

* Emergency file transfer using console connection.    

* Full auditing of console access and used commands.    

* One-step installation and easy deployment on multiple servers.

I’ve now gotten my copy of FRC 4, if you haven’t gotten yours yet, do it today. Then take a look at SFConsole because there’s always a need to visit the server’s console and you shouldn’t have to book a flight in order to do it securely.