Linux System Administration Tools
YaST (Figure 3) and its cousin YaST2 (Figure 4) come with SuSE Linux; these items are specific only to a single distribution.
Generally speaking, you'll want to use YaST2 when at all possible; YaST2 is the graphical version, and the older YaST is a great fallback if you aren't able to get into the GUI or have not installed a GUI. YaST2 is laid out in a standard file-manager format, with the menu of categories on the left and icons for the various configuration routines on the right, which change to correspond with your category choice. The categories are:
Software: the selection of SuSE software-management utilities, such as the ability to update your system over the Internet or add and remove packages from the SuSE CD-ROM or DVD-ROM.
Hardware: a selection of hardware configuration routines, including printers, sound cards and scanners.
Network/Basics: the selection of configuration tools formodem and other connectivity devices, Ethernet cards and more.
Network/Advanced: the section where you can configure many of your network services, such as sendmail, routing and NIS+.
Security&Users: the selection of user and group-management tools, as well as a couple of useful security tools.
System: the selection of overall system-configuration tools, including a boot script (rc-config) file editor, boot loader configuration editor and routines for changing the language, keyboard and so on.
Misc: a collection of tools that couldn't be otherwise grouped into the other categories. Some of the items represented here involve alternate print setup tools, some for working with log files, and some for communicating with SuSE.
COAS comes in a rudimentary form with Caldera OpenLinux but is available for most modern Linux distributions, and is open source and covered by the GPL. This tool comes in four different formats, so you can use the interface that's most comfortable: command-line, ncurses (command-line but menu driven), GUI and Web for remote use. This tool is still under development but will be included in its entirety in later versions of Caldera OpenLinux--though there are rumors that because Caldera now has a stake in Webmin, COAS may be on its way out. This concern is born out by the fact that the COAS web site doesn't seem to have been updated since September of 1999.
This tool is modular, meaning that rather than loading its full set of features into memory when you start it, only the portions you're using come into play. Adding and removing modules is typically transparent as you work with the tool unless you require an external module, one made by a third party or one that for some reason is not included with the core release.
Right now the system is in development, specifically using KDE's Qt library set, but rumor has it that a GTK (GNOME) version is in the works. You can find out more about this tool by visiting www.coas.org, including the list of the tool's anticipated capabilities.
Dee-Ann LeBlanc is a Linux writer, trainer, course developer and consultant who never seems to be able to stick with doing just one thing.
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