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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 10, No. 3, March 2012 Developing Multi-platform package for Remote System Administration Rawaa Putros Polos Qasha Department of Computers Sciences College of Computer Sciences and Mathematics University of Mosul Mosul, Iraq email@example.com Abstract – This paper presents Multi-Platform System The aim of this work is to develop an administration Administration (MPSA) software for administrating and system capable of performing many administrating and controlling different operating systems such as Linux and controlling services remotely in a hidden manner. Therefore Windows system, based on XML-RPC technique and Python the remotely PC does not recognize any activity has performed libraries. by the administrator PC. MPSA software consists of two distinct components: MPSA introduces new two advantages. The first one is Administration server and administration agent. The server components, work on Linux system, are responsible for implementing various important system administration and communicating with the agents, sending the queries, and controlling remotely in an efficient and high speed retrieve the performance and status data from them. performance, since the software depends on XML-RPC Administration agent, that can be working either in Linux or technique for managing the connection between server and the Windows system, is going to proxy the server requests to build agents, in which the server performs services by calling functions and pass the results back to server. specified procedure resides in the agents. The second MPSA introduces many services, such as processes advantage is introducing a portable client agent to work on management, resource management, gathering system different versions of Windows and Linux systems. information, system booting, and file browser, by using the II. RELATED WORKS advantages of XML-RPC. MPSA services were implemented to work on the background at the administration Agents, so that the software Many efforts and application programs have been produced works in a hidden manner without needing to agents permission to facilitate the task of system administration. Machail, Craig or attention. and Janet presented NetReg program for remotely managing system registry for NT system. This work can be used for Keywords- Remote System Administration; XML-RPC; Process specific system and perform limited system administration management; Port scan, WMI; service. According to Anis, Mohammad and Haissam, many I. INTRODUCTION different remote administration tools exists in the market, each of which offers some features for system administration. The world is driven by technology, in which the vast These tools differs in its capabilities and platform they majority of companies, organizations and institutions rely on support, for example GoToMyPC is a powerful tool work on computers to some extent to connect their work. Whenever different platform except Windows7 and does not support there is a problem with one or more computers within a services for managing essential system parts such as process, network that requires system administration, and this cannot resource. be delivered in a timely fashion, the delay in resuming the Sebastian and their partners suggested a new approach for work process results in losses for the company or institution, system management services over a Wide Area Network losses that can be significant at times. (WAN) which performs easy selection and configuration of system administrators are in an increasing degree involved booting options for only Linux system. with the troubleshooting of solving many type of problems Most of the previous works have used client-server concerning the quality of service for the different approach to make a connection. This technique increases the applications. network traffic loads. Moreover, the programs which have According to  the common method to perform system been introduced by previous work depends on client administration is by accessing the remote system via network permission and works as foreground process. communication by means of client-server protocol. MPSA has been implemented to overcome the above Remote access via network communication are identified problems by using XML-RPC and Python libraries in different as idol solution for performing system administration, modern platform. irrespective of the administrator position. A fast, reliable and effective system administration services can be easily performed via remote connection. 72 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ ISSN 1947-5500 (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 10, No. 3, March 2012 III. DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES WERE USED FOR REMOTE The ability to inspect a running process and control its ADMINISTRATION: execution is a basic requirement security tool may require This section presents different tools that had been used to controlling opportunities. This work offering new administrate remote Linux and Windows systems and to capability for process administration. It uses an efficient access services for performing different tasks on the agents. method to view hidden processes depending on keep tacking of /proc system file, which contains information A. XML-RPC about each process. Also the work implements a new As mentioned in  Remote Procedure Call (RPC) is a method for process deletion to delete specified process mechanism offers the capability of data exchange and and all its children in order to avoid creation of zombie invocation of functions residing in different process. That processes. process can be on the same computer, on the local area ii. System Resources Monitoring & Performance network “LAN”, or across the Internet. With RPC, essential Controlling: program logic and related procedure code can exist on different computers, which is important for distributed If system resources become too low, it can cause a lot applications. of problems. The ability of resource monitoring can help In this work XML-RPC, which is a set of specifications to determine whether system is stable, or if some services that allow software running on disparate operating systems, need to be terminated or suspended temporarily have been used for running in different environments to make depending on some criteria such as amount of CPU or procedure calls over the network, since a heterogeneous memory usage. environment in terms of operating systems are used. iii. File Systems Monitoring B. WMI Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) is a set of In any administration system, management files and Windows Driver model that provides an operating system directories represent an essential part. In this work, to interface, it allows scripting languages like Python to manage manipulate files and directories, related system calls had Microsoft Windows personal computers, both locally and been used in Linux and special API functions for remotely . It is the management framework available in Windows. The API functions and system calls provide recent Windows systems. WMI is built on the COM complete control over the creation and maintenance of “Component Object Model” infrastructure and can thus files and directories. operate remotely, using DCOM “Distributed COM”. WMI had been used in this work to access Windows system parts and information. iv. Desktop Screenshots C. GTK A snapshot is the state of a system at a particular point GTK (GIMP Toolkit) was originally developed as a toolkit in time. It can refer to an actual copy of the state of a for the GIMP (General Image Manipulation Program). It is a system or to a capability provided by certain systems. set of functions that have been used in implementation of Implementing desktop snapshot remotely could screen snapshot in Linux and Windows systems. provide a appropriate means for monitoring user activity in the target machine in any given time and rapidly. D. Python Libraries: v. Gathering System Information. Python has built-in support for the XML-RPC protocol and offers tools for implementing client-server applications One of the basic task of system administration is how without needing to install any additional packages. In this work, python have been used to develop server and to find general system information when the system is agents programs working in different operating system. running, such as CPU usage, the amount of memory on a system and its usage, and the amount of available disk IV. SYSTEM ADMINISTRATION TASKS: space and its usage. Some of these tasks are performed According to Eleen, the most important features/functions repetitively, at regular intervals. Other tasks need to run of the system administration are monitoring system activity, only once. File management, system rebooting, and software monitoring vi. Port Scanning . This work implements an efficient and fast techniques to introduce a portable agent which contains all of these This feature helps the administrator to check the functions. The most important features which have been network ports on the clients and to check the ports statues implemented by MPSA are described below: with giving the administrator the ability to close any unauthorized port to protect the clients’ computers. i. Process Administration 73 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ ISSN 1947-5500 (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 10, No. 3, March 2012 V. THE METHODOLOGY OF THE REMOTE SYSTEM start ADMINISTRATION MODEL MPSA consists of two main components: administration server and administration agent. The Run Server Program following scenario is used by software components to perform MPSA tasks: XML-RPC had been used to Enter IP’s Range communicate between server and the agents program so that the agent programs defines functions including the Checking for Open Port in the IP’s Range implementation, the parameters and interfaces. These functions performing system information gathering and applied system tasks when the server calls one of the No Is there functions by following the function interface. The open port? function may return a value contains system information performed into a suitable data structure. Figure (1) Yes represents a high-level components of MPSA software. Checking for System type in the target machine Administration Server Connect to target PC Server Options Displaying Admin. Options Receiving and Connecting and Managing Requesting Selecting Admin Service Information Process Using XML-RPC to Call Service’s related function from selected Agent Connecting and Sending Result Display the results returned from the Receiving Information agent Requests No Exit Server? Agent’s Functions Yes End Administration Agent Figure (2) Administration Server Figure (1) MPSA Main Components b. Administration Agent a. Administration Server: MPSA’s contains two agent programs to support This part, which is responsible for controlling and system administration for different types of systems. managing all the clients agents, should be setup on the These programs must be loaded by the administration for server computer. This part is responsible for detecting the the first time, and be executed at system startup in Linux opened network port among a range of IP addresses, or Windows agent machines to make the agent system which already had been specified for the clients under administration. The server part will gather the computers in advance. When detecting an opened port for information and pass operations and commands to be the target PC, the server performs checking operations to performed on the agent system using XML_RPC determine the type of operating system exists in the agent. technique. On the other side agent program is responsible The flowchart in figure (2) demonstrate the algorithm for performing the operations and passing back the which is implemented by MPSA server program to resulted information to the server in the other side to be administrate and control target system. displayed. The flowchart in figure (3) demonstrate the algorithm which is implemented by MPSA agent program to perform tasks received from the server depending on agent system type. 74 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ ISSN 1947-5500 (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 10, No. 3, March 2012 start • The agent’s programs for different system performs their task in a high speed time as a result of using XML-RPC protocol for responding for server requests. Run Agent Program at Computer startup • All tasks had been performed precisely on the target PC, and the system information and status are correct Waiting for connection from Server comparing to that obtained when using system tools such as task manager in Windows system or system manager in Linux system Receiving Function call from server Figure (4) depicts the first interface for MPSA server which is used to check for opened ports for the target computers and get information for their system then connect Apply Service’s Function that called by to the selected computer to start administration procedures Server through XML-RPC using options explained in table (1). No Is function Return Values Yes Return Results to Server Exit Agent? Yes End Figure (4) MPSA Server First Interface Window Figure (3) Administrating Agent Table (1) MPSA’s Options VI. EXPERIMENTS AND DISCUSSION Main Option Sub-Option Function MPSA software implements remote system controlling CPU Displays and administration on different operating systems: Linux and processor info. Windows using Python language with different programming libraries such wxPython for performing software GUI, GTK, Sys. Info. RAM Displays memory and WMI to manage many system parts in each of Linux and info. Windows. XML-RPC technique is used to exchange OS Displays OS info. information between software parts. MPSA software was tested successfully in the University Hidden Shows all hidden of Mosul/Computer Sciences Dept. lab contains 5 computers. Process process The first one was used as administration server working in All Process Shows all process Linux system with Ubuntu distribution, version 10.4. the others are used as agents working in Linux Ubuntu 10.4, Kill Terminates Process Linux Ment12, Windows XP SP2, and Windows7. The specified process Admin. results have shown efficiency in performance and speed in Suspend Suspends performing tasks on the target PC. specified process The most effective and powerful results are: • It works efficiently on many types of systems such Resume Resumes as: Windows with different versions (XP and 7) and suspended process Linux with various distributions and versions. CPU CPU Percentage • Administration and controlling operations, that Sys. Status usage applied in the target PC did not appear any activity or be recognized from the agent user. 75 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ ISSN 1947-5500 (IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security, Vol. 10, No. 3, March 2012 RAM RAM percentage usage REFERENCES Processes No. of running,  Stig Jarle Fjeldbo, “Administration of Remote Computer blocked processes Networks”, Master Thesis, University of OSLO, Btime time at which the Department of Informatics, 2005. system booted  Marco Ramilli and Macro Prandini, “A messaging-based system for remote server administration”, in proceeding Disk Disk partition of IEEE 3rd International Conference on Network and Partitions usage & free System security, 2009. Packages List of installed  Michail Gomberg, Craig Stacey & Janet Sayre, applications “Scalable, Remote Administration of Windows NT”, In Proceedings of the Second Large Installation Systems Browser File manager Administration of Windows NT Conference Snapshot get screen shot (LISANT),1999.  Anis Ismail, Mohammed Hajjar and Haissam Hajjar, Port Scan List of open ports “Remote Administration Tools: A Comparative Study”, Shut Down Journal of Theoretical and Applied Information Sys. Boot. Technology (JATIT), 2008. Restart  Sebastian Schmelzer, Dirk von Suchodoletz, Gerhard Schneider, Daniel Weingaertner , Luis Carlos E. de Bona and Carlos Carvalho, “Universal Remote Boot and The following figure represents administration server’s Administration Service” in peoceeding of 7th Latin options interface. American Network Operations and Management Symposium Conference (LANOMS), 2011.  DI Siegfried G., xmlrpc-20020305, jugat, 2002.  Tim G., WMI v1.4.7 documentation, 2009, http://timgolden.me.uk/python/wmi/contents.html.  Microsoft Technet's Script Center, 2006. URL:http://www.microsoft.com/technet/scriptcenter/  Andrew Krause, “Foundation of GTK+ Development”, APRESS, 2007.  Eleen Frisch, “Essential System Administration”, 2002,3rd Edit, O’Reilly.  Hanping Lufei, Weisong Shi and Vipin Chaudhary, “Adaptive Secure Access to Remote Services”, in proceeding of IEEE International Conference on Services Computing, 2008. Figure (5) Administration Server’s Options Interface VII. CONCLUSIONS This paper develops a new software for remote system administration and controlling different operating systems. The software depends on XML_RPC technique, which is fast and efficient method to exchange data and commands between server and agent. The software offers many valuable tools for controlling essential parts of target systems and gathering system information suitable for maintaining target system stability and controlling system usage, also system administration tools can be used to modify the behavior of system. 76 http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ ISSN 1947-5500
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