netOctopus vs. RevRdist

By: Scott Doenges - Revised: 2006-06-21 devin


A comparison of the pros and cons of netOctopus and RevRdist.


Easy of Use/Learning Curve: 5

Much easier to learn and use than RevRdist, primarily because of the intuitive Graphic User Interface, and the fact that all components are centralized.
Easy of Use/Learning Curve: 1

You must learn the intricacies of Distfile coding, and since the components are scattered around (i.e. the need to use multiple third-party applications to fill in where RevR leaves off - click here for a list of all of its separate parts), RevR is far more difficult to use and learn.
Software distribution: 4

Using FileScripter, you can quickly create installer scripts to run on multiple computers. With the ability to narrow down machine lists with the hundreds of Information Items, it is equally as useful as the advanced coding options in RevR.
Software distribution: 4

Once you're acquainted with Distfile coding, RevR has many advanced features that allow for a great deal of control over software distribution. It can be a pain to update 40 different Distfiles, but with the right text-editing software (i.e. BBEdit), it becomes a snap.
Initial client setup/System recovery: 2.5

Initial machine setup is not nearly as easy. Requires that you install the System, then install each software item individually. Not ideal to setup an open-access lab. If a user hoses a machine, it takes much more effort to reconfigure the machine and get the software back to a standard set.
Initial client setup/System recovery: 4

Makes initial machine setup much faster, especially in an open-access lab with multiple computers of the same type. Allows you to quickly get a fried machine back in service. With a master RevR image, you only need to reinstall the System software, then run RevR. However, setting up a Distfile from scratch can be a big pain that requires a lot of fine-tuning.
Handy Network Administration: 4

Because netOctopus is totally centralized, it makes network administration much easier. You can restart, shut down, change PRAM values, scan for viruses, set File Sharing, run AppleScripts, etc., all from your computer (i.e. lets you be lazier).
Handy Network Administration: 2.5

Once again because of the multiple components involved, network administration is much more of a pain. You must either do it manually or use one of the separate components (i.e. RR Helper, which sets PRAM values on restart). Also, RevR ideally requires a dedicated RevRdist server.
Usefulness in an open-access
lab: 2.5

netOctopus is not nearly automated enough for it to be very practical in an open-access lab. If a user deletes or installs applications from/onto the drive, you must manually install the missing software, or delete the unwanted software.
Usefulness in an open-access
lab: 5

RevR is far better at maintaining a standard hard disk image in a large computer lab. To deal with users installing and deleting applications daily, you don't have to lift a finger - RevR is completely automated, so the next day all machines in a lab will be back to the standard software set.
Documentation/Tech support: 4

Since you pay $60 per license, there's a great informative manual complete with tutorials, and responsive tech support from Netopia.
Documentation/Tech support: 2.5

Since you don't pay a dime for it, you can't expect a lot. The included RevR documentation is fairly poor, and since there are 5 or 6 components beyond RevR itself, the documentation is scattered.

We have also created a fair amount of RevR documentation, available here.
Price: .5

At around $60 per license, netOctopus isn't exactly attractive to those looking for a cheap way to administer an entire lab. For example, 200 netOctopus licenses would run around $12,000
Price: 5

All components are 100% FREE!!!  Hard to beat that...
Overall Rating: 3
Overall Rating: 4
Overall a very cool program with many cool features and useful tools. The ability to filter machine types and create your own installer scripts is definitely a very nice feature. The GUI, great documentation, and centralized components also give it a huge jump on RevR, but the price is a real killer. Because of its inability to quickly restore or set up multiple machines, it is more well-suited to maintain machines in an office environment than a lab environment. The poor ease of use/learning curve, scarce documentation, and multiple components keep it from getting a perfect 5, but the flexibility allowed by Distfile coding and its ability to quickly set up or restore a standard hard drive image give RevR a huge edge. Absolutely ideal for maintaining large numbers of open-access computers. And did I mention that RevRdist is free?!

I admit that these opinions may be somewhat biased towards RevRdist, since I've had a few years of experience with RevR and only 2 weeks experience with netOctopus. It may well be that once one becomes well acquainted with netOctopus, it has just as much to offer as RevR.