The TK-SA puts a real command-line environment on Windows, with KSH (KornShell) and CSH (C Shell). From the command line, more than 300 Posix.2-compliant commands and utilities are available. Edit and search tools like vi, find and grep are included. You also can find tape and archive utilities like cpio, pax and tar to create Unix-compatible backups on Windows platforms.
The TK-SA also supports scripting environments using PERL 5.6.0, awk and sed. You can port your favorite scripts from Unix or create new scripts to manage your Windows environment. New to version 8 are AlertCentre, to monitor remote systems, an SSH (Secure Shell) client and server, and an event-log utility that can read and write to event logs on local and remote Windows systems.
All MKS Toolkit products run on Intel 32-bit processors using Windows platforms from 95 to XP (Home and Professional). No additional memory outside of the operating system's requirements is necessary. I installed TK-SA beta 2 on Intel Pentium II 500-MHz and Pentium III 600-MHz processors running Windows 2000 and XP Professional in our Syracuse University Real-World Labs®.
MKS software includes a set of run-time files and DLLs (dynamic link libraries) that serve as the operating environment for the Nutcracker Workstation. This service installs under Windows 2000 and XP and enables the command-line environments for KSH and CSH. It sets the stage for other services like SSH and SWS (Simple Web Services).
The MKS Toolkit for System Administrators uses approximately 100 MB of disk space.
Discussing all the command-line utilities ported to Windows is impossible here. Some jump from the start menu using KSH executable scripts to provide a GUI interface. Others are invoked directly from the command line.
For example, a GUI process status tool displays all running processes. It provides the PID (Process ID), PPID (Parent Process ID) and the amount of physical memory used for each process. The tool can also kill selected processes with signal numbers 9 (sigkill) and 15 (sigterm). For more options and control, you can focus on specific processes with process status and kill on the command line.
Other GUI utilities include gdf, which displays disk usage by 512-byte or 1,024-byte (1 KB) blocks, and ugrep, which combines find and grep to search for regular expressions. Note that the usual characters like grep, egrep and fgrep are still available for matching regular expressions on the command line. With version 8, you can see what's up with remote systems and access them using SSH.
The AlertCentre is MKS' remote monitoring solution that runs on SWS installed for Windows servers and workstations. Alternatively, you can use Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Server). For AlertCentre, you need about 32 MB to 64 MB of memory over OS requirements and a minimum of CPU speed of 500 MHz. AlertCentre monitors network resources and applications availability from a single server without installing any remote agents, which means you need sufficient domain permissions to monitor remote machines.
I ran the Web service as a local system service and provided domain administrator authority for only those monitor processes that needed it (see screen view). I configured monitors for DNS, FTP, HTTP and SMTP servers.
In addition, I set resource availability monitors to alert me of low disk space and high CPU and memory utilization on remote systems. I associated all monitors with a schedule to run every 15 minutes.
On the quarter-hour, the AlertCentre initiated processes to monitor the servers that, among other things, retrieved Web pages and logged into FTP servers. If a process was not successful, I set up configurable actions to alert an administrator via e-mail. Other possible actions included running a specified job or script and triggering a configurable SNMP trap for a host running an SNMP trap daemon (SNMPtrapd).
MKS Toolkit for System Administrators, starts at $359. Available: Now. MKS Software, (800) 637-8034, (703) 803-3343; fax (703) 803-3344.
I tested each of the monitors by forcing the event designed to trigger configured actions. For example, I forced high CPU and memory utilization on remote servers and interrupted HTTP, FTP and SMTP services. Mail alerts began to fill my inbox. One alert for high processor utilization, however, gave me false positives. I logged this as a beta problem.
Administration of remote servers and services using telnet, RSH (Remote Shell) and RLogin (Remote Login) is hazardous. Anyone monitoring for packets on the same network will see information you pass in clear text. The TK-SA SSH service removes this hazard. The SSH is a port of OpenSSH 2.9p2 and OpenSSL 0.9.5a. Both server and client portions of SSH are available for Windows NT, 2000 and XP. I also installed the same OpenSSH version on Sun Microsystems Solaris 8 with OpenSSL version 0.9.6b for cross-platform testing.
Upon installation, key pairs were created for the local host. Out of the box, SSH servers could authenticate clients using public key cryptography. Once authenticated, more efficient algorithms encrypt traffic between machines. I generated per-user key pairs on machines using pass phrases for both DSA and RSA. I then connected to other Windows machines and the Solaris machine using SSH and transferred files and scripts using both SFTP (Secure FTP) and SCP (Secure Copy). I needed to force protocol version 1 to take advantage of TK-SA's SSH, SFTP and SCP. I logged this issue as a beta problem too.
TK-SA version 8 is gold, and much work has been done to improve AlertCentre and the SSH utilities. Although you can find a free copy of vi for Windows and install PERL for Win32, TK-SA brings your battle-worn Unix scripts across platforms and puts common tools on all your command lines. It will go a long way to help administer a mixed bag of Linux, Windows and Unix servers.
Sean Doherty is a technology editor based at our Syracuse University Real-World Labs®. A former project manager and IT engineer at Syracuse University, he helped develop the infrastructure behind a campuswide, centrally supported applications and storage system. Send your comments on this article to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.