Net Integration's Nitix 0S 4.0

Can this all-in-one gateway-router-groupware tool really automate all those mundane tasks?

October 8, 2004

3 Min Read
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I tested a beta version in our Green Bay, Wis., Real-World Labs®, using a Micro appliance from Net Integration. Weighing just 2.2 pounds, the Micro sported a Via C3 EDEN 800-MHz processor, 256 MB of SDRAM, a 40-GB hard drive, three 10/100 ports and one parallel port for print services.

Nitix configured itself with an IP address, the correct default route and DNS entries. Coolest of all were the breadth of its management features in the Web console and its ability to intelligently reconfigure itself in the face of failures.

To test the operating system's touted ability to "heal" itself, I downloaded and accepted a prerelease build of version 4.0. When I tried to reboot the system, Nitix automatically reverted back to the original 3.x version. The system, unable to boot with the beta build, intelligently decided to revert to the last known good configuration.

Good

• Automagically configures most network settings• Groupware functionality includes synchronization with Outlook• Includes wide variety of SOHO-suitable services

Bad

• Supports only local printers• Some features, such as content filtering, are extremely rudimentary

Nitix OS 4.0, $598. Net Integration Technologies, (866) 384-8324. www.nitix.com

E-Mail Services

Nitix provides Web e-mail access to its Exchange-like groupware server, but I was much more pleased with the ExchangeIt plug-in for Outlook that provides the same slick integration of Outlook with its ExchangeIt server as Microsoft offers between Outlook and Exchange servers. I installed the plug-in and tested the integration--it worked as advertised. I made calendar and task entries within Outlook and, after synchronization with the ExchangeIt server, accessed those same entries over Nitix's Web e-mail services.E-mail services are not limited to Outlook integrated access; IMAP and POP3 (including their secure counterparts) and SMTP are all available, including fetchmail-type functionality. All e-mail services can be secured by allowing access only by trusted hosts or by turning off the services. If you're brave, you can allow open access to the services.

Small Tasks

Much of Nitix's functionality is rudimentary. The Web content filtering for its proxy services allowed exceptions only in the form of whitelisting sites, and e-mail security included only virus scanning (if bought) and minimally configurable RBL support.

File-sharing was a no-brainer. But sharing a printer proved impossible: Nitix 4.0 doesn't support remote printers. Local printer availability depends on the hardware configuration; on the Micro, only parallel printer support is offered. VPN configuration is straightforward, though only PPTP is available.

Overall, Nitix is a great little OS for a branch office or SOHO environment with limited IT resources. It needs enhancements to its print services, and I expect to see more options added to some of its features, but the core is solid. Given Nitix's autoupdate capabilities, it would be a snap to deliver such enhancements to customers.Lori MacVittie is a Network Computing senior technology editor working in our Green Bay, Wis., labs. Write to her at [email protected].

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