At Your Service: One of NetMAX’s strengths is that even its initial setup is done via a Web browser.
In a Nutshell
* Web-based management and user interface
* Supports a wide variety of clients
* Web-based management does not use HTTPS
* Customization beyond NetMAX options requires Linux experience
*Intel 486 processor at 66 MHz
*Pentium-compatible processor at 200 MHz recommended
* 32 MB RAM
* 64 MB RAM or more recommended
*500 MB hard drive
Cybernet’s NetMAX is going to give Microsoft’s Windows NT and Novell’s NetWare some stiff competition in the single-server market. NetMAX provides the stability, power, and flexibility of Linux in a tool that can create a GUI-based environment for multiple users armed with browsers, all in remarkably little time.
NetMAX is built on Red Hat Linux, providing more-experienced users with a familiar platform. The product comes in two forms: a less-expensive version that provides individual services like file services or router/ firewall services, and a complete package for $395 that includes all these services as well as most standard Linux-based services. All of these features are managed from a Web browser, allowing you to configure a server that doesn’t have a keyboard or monitor.
The list of services in the complete version is extensive. It provides router support, including firewall, network-address-translation support, and dial- in management. File services include NFS and FTP support, while Samba allows Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT users to access the server as if it were another Windows system. NetMAX even provides native AppleShare support for Macintosh users.
Installation was remarkably easy using the default settings of DHCP and letting NetMAX use the entire hard drive. NetMAX booted from the CD, recognized the hardware, formatted the hard disk, and set up the entire system. In less than an hour our users were up and running, all through the Web-based interface. We found that console-based installation was just as simple.
We were extremely pleased by the other aspects of NetMAX’s management tools. Its reporting support is easy to use, and the backup service worked well with our SCSI-based tape drive. The user management is exceptional and addresses mailbox setup as well as personal file and Web services. Users can upload, edit, and download files via the Web-based interface without resorting to shared directories or FTP programs, and they can even change their own passwords using a browser.
NetMAX has limitations, but none is significant given its target audience. Management is definitely designed for a single server, since NIS (Network Information System) –which would make NetMAX more suitable for multiserver networks — is part of the Linux distribution but isn’t accessible via the Web interface. We were surprised to find that NetMAX doesn’t provide Web-based mail or news-reader interfaces. Finally, the management interface doesn’t use a secure link like HTTPS, so remote management across the Internet isn’t recommended.
Even though NetMAX is essentially a single-server product, using more than one Cybernet product at a site makes sense. Despite its single-server orientation, NetMAX provides an
amazing combination of flexibility and usability for both the system administrator and the end user, all built on a solid and familiar Linux foundation. Now anyone can be a Linux hero without being a Linux expert.
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