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Ximian takes Linux management behind firewall

Linux software maker Ximian has released the latest version of its Red Carpet software management tool, which enterprise customers can use to deploy updates and security patches for Linux desktop and server software automatically.

Red Carpet Enterprise is the latest generation of Ximian's software for delivering updates and fixes to multiple servers and workstations. Red Carpet is currently available as a Web-based service for corporate customers, called Red Carpet Corporate Connect and one for individual Linux users, called Red Carpet Express. Both allow users to download patches and version upgrades from servers hosted by the company.

With the enterprise version of Red Carpet, system administrators will be able to install the software management tool on their own servers, said Jon Perr, vice-president of marketing for Ximian. Additionally, with Red Carpet Enterprise users can manage the process using a command line interface in addition to the Web-based console available for existing versions of the tool.

Customers will also be able to manage version and security updates for custom Linux software developed by individual users, in addition to generally available software products already managed with the tool. Those include versions of the Linux operating system from Red Hat, SuSE Linux, MandrakeSoft and the open source project Debian.

All versions of Red Carpet also include "channels" where users can get updates to third-party Linux software, such as Opera Software ASA's Web browser, Sun Microsystems' StarOffice desktop suite and Ximian's Evolution e-mail and calendaring software.

Oil and gas company Amerada Hess uses Red Carpet Corporate Connect to manage software updates for 300 Red Hat Linux servers deployed in one of its US divisions. Jeff Davis, senior systems programmer with Amerada Hess, said he has tested Ximian's latest server-based product and plans to roll it next year.

"Basically, it works just like Corporate Connect. The only difference is that since the box is inside the firewall it's under [my] control," he said.

With control over the server, Davis said he can deploy hundreds of fixes at one time, whereas the existing version requires him to schedule updates one at a time.

Similar tools are available from other companies. For example, Red Hat offers a tool called Red Hat Network that allows its users to keep up to date with security patches and updates. However, few allow users to manage updates for products from multiple vendors through a single interface.

Red Carpet Enterprises will cost $2,500 (£1,600) for the server software component and $200 (£128) for each server or workstation that is maintained with the software tool. Volume pricing will also be available.

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