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Take Your Linux PC Anywhere

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Symantec’s remote management tool is getting its first major facelift in more than a year, with added platform support and a new security scheme.

Symantec’s pcAnywhere 11.5, due the first part of December, lets administrators manage servers or end users’ workstations without having to be physically present. With the pcAnywhere running as a host on a machine, the IT staffer can run a client program from anywhere in the world and do anything from update the latest security patch to executing a program.

The update by the Cupertino, Calif., company is further acknowledgement of the growing popularity of Linux in the enterprise. Since its initial launch, pcAnywhere has been a Windows-only application, but that’s been expanded to include Red Hat Linux and Novell’s SUSE Linux. On the desktop, the remote management tool can sit on the KDE and GNOME platforms.

With the Linux Host, IT staffers can remotely manage Linux or Windows machines without having to dual-boot or use multiple devices. Also, by using the pcAnywhere Web Remote, administrators can manage these two operating systems from any system using a Java-based (Java Runtime Environment 1.4.2 or higher) Web interface that’s compatible with either the Internet Explorer or Mozilla Web browser.

Mike Baldwin, pcAnywhere senior product manager, said initial support for Red Hat and SUSE is the test-bed to see whether the company will pursue cross-platform support on other operating systems like Solaris, Mac OS and other Linux distros.

“We’re really going to keep an ear to the ground and see how this takes off in the market initially, and then decide whether to pursue other platforms,” he said.

Symantec also expanded pcAnywhere to include mobile devices, although, as with Linux, it’s testing the waters first by only supporting Microsoft’s Pocket PC operating system. The pcAnywhere Mobile option allows for any type of TCP/IP connection — Wi-Fi, cellular, Bluetooth or infrared — with an interface designed to make navigation less onerous than normally expected on small screens.

Also included in pcAnywhere 11.5 is support for Windows Pre-Installation Environment (WinPE), so systems can be remotely recovered without having to do a complete reboot.

Symantec’s also given its encryption a boost, removing Microsoft’s Crypto API , which allowed for up to 128-bit cipher keys, and replacing it with the 256-bit capable Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). With AES encryption in its product, Symantec hopes to win some contracts with the government and financial sectors, which rely on a robust encryption solution. According to Baldwin, the company has submitted its cryptographic module to the National Institute of Standards and Technology for level 1 validation of the Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2.

Other security enhancements include default encryption of login and password information, host address blocking, support for 13 different authentication methods (including RSA Security’s SecurID), and the ability to determine which IP addresses and subnets are allowed to connect.

The pcAnywhere 11.5 product sells for $199.95 for a single user (with a $100 rebate for pcAnywhere 11 customers), with multi-seat licenses available, depending on deployment size.

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