UPDATE: Helix Setup Tools

A new tool has been added to the Helix Setup Tools suite. This one is meant
for configuring temporal aspects of a workstation environment, such as the
time zone plus manual or continuous automatic correction of the system clock.

Have fun, and please tell us what you think of it (or even better, send

The tools

  Networking       0.1.0  Basic networking.
  Name Resolution  0.1.0  Basic name resolution.
  Shares           0.1.0  Importing and exporting SMB and NFS shares.
* Time             0.1.0  Timezone, timeservers and system clock.

[*] marks changes or additions with this announce.

These tools have been tested only with Red Hat, but might work with other
distributions as well. Proceed at your own risk.

Call for developers

We want to have support in Helix Setup Tools for as many Unix systems as
possible. Supporting a new system is pretty simple, you just need to extend
the backend Perl scripts to probe for your system, parse your system
configuration files and generate your system configuration files.

By keeping the backends as Perl scripts we hope that seasoned system
administrators will be able to contribute to this project without requiring
any Gtk+ or GNOME programming experience.

The current version only supports Red Hat Linux systems, which is what we
used to develop this.

More information

Introduction: http://www.helixcode.com/desktop/setuptools.php3

Whitepaper:   http://www.helixcode.com/tech/helix-setup-tools.php3

Mailing list: http://lists.helixcode.com/mailman/listinfo/gnome-admin-tools

FTP:          ftp://ftp.helixcode.com/pub/setuptools/

GNOME CVS:    Module "gnome-admin-tools".

Maintainer:   Hans Petter Jansson <hpj@helixcode.com>

Design goals of the Helix Setup Tools

* Targeted to end users:

  These tools are intended to simplify the tasks of configuring a Unix system
  for workstations. These tools are targeted to people who want to use
  GNOME systems as their primary workstation.

  They are not intended to be used for configuring UNIX servers or clusters.

* Unified System Configuration:

  Configuring different Unix systems is different; Every Unix system has
  different ways of being administered. The Helix Setup Tools are targeted
  towards unifying those systems.

* Multi-platform:

  Each one of the Helix Setup Tools is split in two parts: a backend (which
  is typically written in Perl) and a user interface frontend (which is
  typically written in C or Python).

  The backend is written in a way that would allow us to quickly adopt the
  backend to various different flavors of Unix: the backend "probes" your
  system to check what kind of system it is running on, and depending on
  this, it parses the existing system files. Then after the user has
  finished editing the system settings, the configuration is written back to
  the system files.

  This means that the Helix Setup Tools use whatever configuration files are
  available in your system, and you can still edit those files yourself.

This is a work in progress release of the Helix Setup Tools, and fine tuning
of the user interface is expected to happen before we can deliver the
ultimate user experience for the desktop.

Future Work

The Helix Setup Tools have been designed to provide a number of extensions
that will be made available in the future:

* Provinding a CORBA-accessible interface to the configuration tools. This
  will be achieved by integrating the Perl/CORBA bindings with each one of
  the backends.

* Cluster configuration: Given that we have a split between the user
  interface and the backends, we will be writting tools that would enable
  system administrators to configure clusters of client machines.

* Presets: Through a panel applet users will be able to change system
  configuration to a number of presets.  For example, the user could have a
  preset in his laptop for the computer lab, another preset for his home and
  another for his girlfriend's house.  Depending on those settings the value
  of your default printer, network connectivity options and so on will be

* Roll back support: By archiving previous versions of the XML state of the
  system, we will be able to rollback the changes to a previous state (yes,
  we are considering using RCS for storing the configuration history).

  So for instance, if your mom has her computer set up and your cousin goes
  home and makes a mess out of the configuration, your mom will be able to
  drag the configuration slider to "2 days ago" and have the configuration of
  her system the same way it was before the cousin came home.

* Integration with the Control Center: Bradford has been working on the new
  control center that will integrate the system administration tools into the
  GNOME Control Center.

* Single tarball: We are going to put all the tools in a single tarball in
  the future to reuse code between the various components.

Hans Petter

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