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Low-cost all-in-one remote access server runs Linux

Apr 3, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

Opengear is shipping an inexpensive, Linux-powered, remote access server aimed at providing secure access to “the entire IT infrastructure” at small satellite offices. The CM4001 costs about $300, and comes with an open source Java wizard created by Opengear to simplify secure authentication and tunnel creation.

(Click for larger view of the CM4001)

The CM4001 is the lowest-cost model yet in Opengear's CM4000 line of remote access servers based on uClinux and other open source software. The new model is meant primarily to help IT departments support small branch offices, but can also be used by consultants and software vendors to support small clients, or by mobile users to access their office systems via Microsoft's RDP (remote desktop protocol) or via open source VNC (virtual network computing) software, Opengear says.

Like other CM4000 devices, the CM4001 is meant to be installed behind an existing firewall, which is then configured to forward a port to its ssh server. Up to 10 simultaneous users can then tunnel into the CM4001, and use Opengear's “Secure Desktop Tunneling” (SDT) technology to connect to services on the remote LAN, such as RDP, VNC, Telnet, or HTTP servers. The CM4001 can provide access to up to 50 physical computers, Opengear says, or up to 200 if multiple CM4001s are configured in a cluster topography.

Opengear founder Bob Waldie says that SDT is based on open standards and technology, such as AES and 3DES. It can be used with open source term clients, such as telnet, putty, and so on. However, he adds, “You have to be a little bit technical to comfortably use them.”

To simplify SDT configuration and use, Opengear created a wizard that it calls SDTConnector, which is available for download through a project hosted at SourceForge. The project currently offers two Windows executable versions, along with Java versions for Linux and Macintosh clients.

In addition to providing remote access to LAN-based services, the CM4001 has a serial port that can be used to control devices with serial console interfaces, such as power switches, routers, firewalls, and other infrastructure equipment. A second serial port can be used to attach a modem or ISDN BRI, for out-of-band access when the primary Internet connection is down. Data transferred across serial connections can be logged, and alarms configured to send email or SNMP alerts.

Waldie states, “Smaller offices can't afford the cost and complexity of managing an array of single-function solutions, such as console servers, KVM/IP gateways, or SSL VPNs. Opengear's CM4001 console servers are the first step in unifying remote management into a single quality solution.”

He adds, “The CM4001 provides an opportunity for sys and net admins to stop looking at remote offices as hostile sites, and start bringing them into their trusted networks.”


The CM4001 is available now, priced at $295. The SDTConnector is available for download from SourceForge.

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