Pragma TelnetServer: Feature-rich third-party telnet server for Windows NT and 2000

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted September 13, 2001

The graphical user interface (GUI) has been a part of personal and business computing for quite some time now. Remote services like AT&T's VNC and Windows 2000 Terminal Services (which comes standard with all Windows 2000 operating systems supporting two simultaneous users) offer users a simple, standard GUI interface for administration.

Just as terminal services offer a remote GUI interface, the telnet standard can work in a GUI for remote command prompt services.

Windows 2000 Server comes with a built-in, integrated, telnet server that is fairly easy to configure and uses the NT user database. Because of this, it is probably the telnet server organizations turn to first.

Pragmasys Systems, however, also offers NT and 2000 users its own version of a Telnet server. (In addition to offering a telnet server for Windows 95/98 and Me.)

Pragma TelnetServer, known in prior generations as InterAccess TelnetD, isn't just a clone of the Windows 2000 integrated Telnet server and is actually far more feature-rich than its major rival.

TelnetServer's most useful feature is its text and HTML log files for individual user sessions. These log files allow an administrator to view what each user is doing while connected to the telnet server. This greatly helps in tracking down malicious users and the like.

Another very useful feature that TelnetServer offers is its capability to gracefully terminate running programs when a user improperly logs off of his or her telnet client. The proper "kill" signals are automatically sent to applications still running and allow them to save their data.

Although it is feature-rich, TelnetServer is very similar to Windows 2000's integrated telnet server. TelnetServer provides normal telnet simulation as if the remote user is actually typing commands in to the local NT command shell.

TelnetServer can also use the NT account database for user authorization. It will start a user in his or her home directory if specified in the NT account database, and it will integrate with NTFS and provide users with access to only the data to which they have NTFS permissions to access. Because of these integrated security features, TelnetServer runs only on a Windows NT or 2000 operating system, and cannot be run on a DOS-based Windows 9x or Me operating system (although Pragmasys does have a telnet offering for Windows 95/98 and Me).

For more advanced users, TelnetServer offers the capability to change the default command shell (cmd.exe) to something the user is more comfortable with, like an emulated Linux shell. All of TelnetServer's advanced features are server side, thus allowing users to connect to the server with virtually any standard telnet client.

TelnetServer is priced at just under $400 for single or dual processors machines. Our main question after testing it is whether the features are worth that much money.

We believe TelnetServer is best used (and most worth the money) in an environment with a fairly powerful central server that has relatively weak client machines logging onto it via telnet to run most of their productive applications -- similar to the structure of a mainframe system.

With the performance/price ratio constantly on the rise for client-type machines, it is rare that even a single program is ran in a telnet style, thus ruling out TelnetServer for this setup simply because of the computer market. Although TelnetServer is good for remote administration, other programs, like Windows 2000 integrated Terminal Services or VNC, which also use GUI administration, have a distinct edge in Telnet administration simply because of their price: Both are free.

Pros: Feature rich; Advanced logging capabilities

Cons: Price; Hard to keep up with free and integrated offerings

Version Reviewed: 2000
Reviewed by: M.A. Dockter
Last Updated: 5/3/02
Date of Original Review: 9/13/01

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