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Developing Multi-Platform Package for Remote System Administration

Developing Multi-Platform Package for Remote System Administration

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Published by ijcsis
This paper presents Multi-Platform System Administration (MPSA) software for administrating and controlling different operating systems such as Linux and Windows system, based on XML-RPC technique and Python libraries. MPSA software consists of two distinct components: Administration server and administration agent. The server components, work on Linux system, are responsible for communicating with the agents, sending the queries, and retrieve the performance and status data from them. Administration agent, that can be working either in Linux or Windows system, is going to proxy the server requests to build functions and pass the results back to server. MPSA introduces many services, such as processes management, resource management, gathering system
information, system booting, and file browser, by using the advantages of XML-RPC. MPSA services were implemented to work on the background at the administration Agents, so that the software works in a hidden manner without needing to agents permission or attention.
This paper presents Multi-Platform System Administration (MPSA) software for administrating and controlling different operating systems such as Linux and Windows system, based on XML-RPC technique and Python libraries. MPSA software consists of two distinct components: Administration server and administration agent. The server components, work on Linux system, are responsible for communicating with the agents, sending the queries, and retrieve the performance and status data from them. Administration agent, that can be working either in Linux or Windows system, is going to proxy the server requests to build functions and pass the results back to server. MPSA introduces many services, such as processes management, resource management, gathering system
information, system booting, and file browser, by using the advantages of XML-RPC. MPSA services were implemented to work on the background at the administration Agents, so that the software works in a hidden manner without needing to agents permission or attention.

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Published by: ijcsis on May 15, 2012
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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 10, No. 3, March 2012
Developing Multi-platform package for RemoteSystem Administration
Rawaa Putros Polos QashaDepartment of Computers SciencesCollege of Computer Sciences and MathematicsUniversity of MosulMosul, Iraqrawa_qasha@yahoo.com 
 Abstract
 
This paper presents Multi-Platform SystemAdministration (MPSA) software for administrating andcontrolling different operating systems such as Linux andWindows system, based on XML-RPC technique and Pythonlibraries.MPSA software consists of two distinct components:Administration server and administration agent. The servercomponents, work on Linux system, are responsible forcommunicating with the agents, sending the queries, andretrieve the performance and status data from them.Administration agent, that can be working either in Linux orWindows system, is going to proxy the server requests to buildfunctions and pass the results back to server.MPSA introduces many services, such as processesmanagement, resource management, gathering systeminformation, system booting, and file browser, by using theadvantages of XML-RPC.MPSA services were implemented to work on thebackground at the administration Agents, so that the softwareworks in a hidden manner without needing to agents permissionor attention.
 Keywords-
 
 Remote System Administration; XML-RPC; Process management; Port scan, WMI;
I.
 
INTRODUCTIONThe world is driven by technology, in which the vastmajority of companies, organizations and institutions rely oncomputers to some extent to connect their work. Wheneverthere is a problem with one or more computers within anetwork that requires system administration, and this cannotbe delivered in a timely fashion, the delay in resuming thework process results in losses for the company or institution,losses that can be significant at times.system administrators are in an increasing degree involvedwith the troubleshooting of solving many type of problemsconcerning the quality of service for the differentapplications[1].According to [2] the common method to perform systemadministration is by accessing the remote system via network communication by means of client-server protocol.Remote access via network communication are identifiedas idol solution for performing system administration,irrespective of the administrator position. A fast, reliable andeffective system administration services can be easilyperformed via remote connection.The aim of this work is to develop an administrationsystem capable of performing many administrating andcontrolling services remotely in a hidden manner. Thereforethe remotely PC does not recognize any activity has performedby the administrator PC.MPSA introduces new two advantages. The first one isimplementing various important system administration andcontrolling remotely in an efficient and high speedperformance, since the software depends on XML-RPCtechnique for managing the connection between server and theagents, in which the server performs services by callingspecified procedure resides in the agents. The secondadvantage is introducing a portable client agent to work ondifferent versions of Windows and Linux systems.II.
 
RELATED
 
WORKSMany efforts and application programs have been producedto facilitate the task of system administration. Machail, Craigand Janet presented NetReg program for remotely managingsystem registry for NT system[3]. This work can be used forspecific system and perform limited system administrationservice.According to Anis, Mohammad and Haissam, manydifferent remote administration tools exists in the market, eachof which offers some features for system administration[4].These tools differs in its capabilities and platform theysupport, for example GoToMyPC is a powerful tool work ondifferent platform except Windows7 and does not supportservices for managing essential system parts such as process,resource.Sebastian and their partners suggested a new approach forsystem management services over a Wide Area Network (WAN) which performs easy selection and configuration of booting options for only Linux system[5].Most of the previous works have used client-serverapproach to make a connection. This technique increases thenetwork traffic loads. Moreover, the programs which havebeen introduced by previous work depends on clientpermission and works as foreground process.MPSA has been implemented to overcome the aboveproblems by using XML-RPC and Python libraries in differentmodern platform.
72http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 10, No. 3, March 2012
III.
 
D
IFFERENT
T
ECHNIQUES WERE USED FOR
R
EMOTE
A
DMINISTRATION
:This section presents different tools that had been used toadministrate remote Linux and Windows systems and toaccess services for performing different tasks on the agents.
 A.
 
 XML-RPC 
As mentioned in [4] Remote Procedure Call (RPC) is amechanism offers the capability of data exchange andinvocation of functions residing in different process. Thatprocess can be on the same computer, on the local areanetwork “LAN”, or across the Internet. With RPC, essentialprogram logic and related procedure code can exist ondifferent computers, which is important for distributedapplications.In this work XML-RPC,
 
which is a set of specificationsthat allow software running on disparate operating systems,have been used for running in different environments to makeprocedure calls over the network[6], since a heterogeneousenvironment in terms of operating systems are used. 
 B.
 
WMI 
Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) is a set of Windows Driver model that provides an operating systeminterface, it allows scripting languages like Python to manageMicrosoft Windows personal computers, both locally andremotely [7]. It is the management framework available inrecent Windows systems. WMI is built on the COM“Component Object Model” infrastructure and can thusoperate remotely, using DCOM “Distributed COM”[8].WMI had been used in this work to access Windowssystem parts and information.
C.
 
GTK 
GTK (GIMP Toolkit) was originally developed as a toolkitfor the GIMP (General Image Manipulation Program). It is aset of functions that have been used in implementation of screen snapshot in Linux and Windows systems[9].
 D.
 
Python Libraries:
Python has built-in support for the XML-RPC protocol andoffers tools for implementing client-server applicationswithout needing to install any additional packages.In this work, python have been used to develop server andagents programs working in different operating system.
 
IV.
 
S
YSTEM
A
DMINISTRATION
T
ASKS
:According to Eleen, the most important features/functionsof the system administration are monitoring system activity,File management, system rebooting, and software monitoring[10]. This work implements an efficient and fast techniquesto introduce a portable agent which contains all of thesefunctions. The most important features which have beenimplemented by MPSA are described below:i.
 
Process AdministrationThe ability to inspect a running process and control itsexecution is a basic requirement security tool may requirecontrolling opportunities. This work offering newcapability for process administration. It uses an efficientmethod to view hidden processes depending on keeptacking of /proc system file, which contains informationabout each process. Also the work implements a newmethod for process deletion to delete specified processand all its children in order to avoid creation of zombieprocesses.ii.
 
System Resources Monitoring & PerformanceControlling:If system resources become too low, it can cause a lotof problems. The ability of resource monitoring can helpto determine whether system is stable, or if some servicesneed to be terminated or suspended temporarilydepending on some criteria such as amount of CPU ormemory usage.iii.
 
File Systems MonitoringIn any administration system, management files anddirectories represent an essential part. In this work, tomanipulate files and directories, related system calls hadbeen used in Linux and special API functions forWindows. The API functions and system calls providecomplete control over the creation and maintenance of files and directories.iv.
 
Desktop ScreenshotsA snapshot is thestateof a system at a particular pointin time. It can refer to anactual copyof the state of asystem or to a capability provided by certain systems.Implementing desktop snapshot remotely couldprovide a appropriate means for monitoring user activityin the target machine in any given time and rapidly.v.
 
Gathering System Information.One of the basic task of system administration is howto find general system information when the system isrunning, such as CPU usage, the amount of memory on asystem and its usage, and the amount of available disk space and its usage. Some of these tasks are performedrepetitively, at regular intervals. Other tasks need to runonly once.vi.
 
Port ScanningThis feature helps the administrator to check thenetwork ports on the clients and to check the ports statueswith giving the administrator the ability to close anyunauthorized port to protect the clients’ computers.
73http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 10, No. 3, March 2012
V.
 
T
HE METHODOLOGY OF THE
R
EMOTE
S
YSTEM
A
DMINISTRATION
M
ODEL
 MPSA consists of two main components:administration server and administration agent. Thefollowing scenario is used by software components toperform MPSA tasks: XML-RPC had been used tocommunicate between server and the agents program sothat the agent programs defines functions including theimplementation, the parameters and interfaces. Thesefunctions performing system information gathering andapplied system tasks when the server calls one of thefunctions by following the function interface. Thefunction may return a value contains system informationperformed into a suitable data structure. Figure (1)represents a high-level components of MPSA software.
 
Figure (1) MPSA Main Componentsa.
 
Administration Server:This part, which is responsible for controlling andmanaging all the clients agents, should be setup on theserver computer. This part is responsible for detecting theopened network port
 
among a range of IP addresses,which already had been specified for the clientscomputers in advance. When detecting an opened port forthe target PC, the server performs checking operations todetermine the type of operating system exists in the agent.The flowchart in figure (2) demonstrate the algorithmwhich is implemented by MPSA server program toadministrate and control target system.Figure (2) Administration Serverb.
 
Administration AgentMPSA’s contains two agent programs to supportsystem administration for different types of systems.These programs must be loaded by the administration forthe first time, and be executed at system startup in Linuxor Windows agent machines to make the agent systemunder administration. The server part will gather theinformation and pass operations and commands to beperformed on the agent system using XML_RPCtechnique. On the other side agent program is responsiblefor performing the operations and passing back theresulted information to the server in the other side to bedisplayed. The flowchart in figure (3) demonstrate thealgorithm which is implemented by MPSA agent programto perform tasks received from the server depending onagent system type.
start
 
Enter IP’s RangeIs thereopen port
?No
Checking for System type in the target machineUsing XML-RPC to Call Service’s relatedfunction from selected AgentExitServer
?YesNoYesEnd
Run Server ProgramChecking for Open Port in the IP’s RangeConnect to target PCDisplaying Admin. Options
 
Selecting Admin ServiceDisplay the results returned from theagent
 
Administration Server
 
Server OptionsReceiving andManagingInformationConnecting andRequestingProcess
 
Administration Agent
 
Agent’s FunctionsSending ResultInformationConnecting andReceivingRequests
74http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500

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