General Info

By: Richard Glaser - Revised: 2006-05-30 richard


Basic information about radmind including what it is, platform support, cost, and development.

What is radmind?

radmind (remote administration daemon) is a collection of Unix command line tools that allow system administrators to manage file systems of multiple machines like in a student lab or other environment. At its core, Radmind checks file system integrity, like Tripwire. It can detect changes to any managed file system object like a file, directory, link, etc., which can be caused by hardware, operating system or software issues, or by users of the machine either on purpose or unattentionally.

What makes radmind different, is it can detect file system changes and using "files" on a remote server reverse changes to a managed file system. Changes can be made to managed machines by updating file these "files" on the Radmind server.

What this means is radmind allows you to create a individual or multiple setups on a Mac OS X system and then be able to distribute it to to a group of Mac's. For example, you can easily upgrade/downgrade a operating system or OS/software update, or add/remove software, or modify the configuration by simply updating the "files" on the radmind server, which in turn it will update the managed clients.

The "files" used by radmind include a loadset, which defines the managed machine's file system, and include multiple overloads. These overloads consist of a list of file system items (files, directories, links, etc.) and any associated files. The layering of the overloads allows for granularity & customization in the definition of the client managed file system. For example, you could have the operating system described separately from software, or software from other software, or settings from other settings, allowing you to distribute different overloads to managed clients on a all, per group, per indiviual bases or a combination. For example you could administrate the file systems of managed clients so, that all clients get Mac OS X 10.3.5, a sub-group of clients would get the application iMovie 4.0, and an individual client gets scanning software like VueScan. You can also administrate settings through this model, like clients in "Group A" gets these printer settings for "Lab A", and clients in "Group B" gets printer settings for "Lab B" and a individual clients get printer settings for only their printer.

What is a Tripwire?

The open source tool called Tripwire is a host-based intrusion detection system. It is not so much concerned with detecting intrusion attempts at the periphery of a computing system (as in Network intrusion detection systems), but rather looks for and reports on the resultant changes of state in the computing system under observation.

Intruders usually leave traces of their activities (change system state). Tripwire looks for these by monitoring key attributes of files that should not change, including binary signature, size, expected change of size, etc. - and reporting its findings. While useful for intrusion detection it can also be used for many other purposes such as integrity assurance, change management, policy compliance, and more.

Many techniques used for host-based intrusion detection were entirely or in part pioneered by Tripwire. In many senses recent efforts at managing security on computers, such as the Trusted Computing Group Trusted Platform Module are extensions of these ideas and techniques wrapped up in a piece of silicon that runs external to the CPU and is thus harder to crack.

Radmind goes beyond the general Tripwire by allowing you to reverse changes instead of only notifying the administrator. To fail tripwire means that something changed without the administrator's knowledge.

What platforms does it run on?

Radmind will run on the following platforms:
  • Mac OS X
  • FreeBSD
  • Linux
  • OpenBSD
  • Solaris
Note, radmind currently isn't running on Windows flavors, but there has been interest porting the radmind server software to run on Windows servers to support managed clients.

If you are interested in porting the software to other platforms, source code is available, here.

What does radmind cost?

Radmind is open source, and is available under a BSD-style license.

This basically means that you can use the software for FREE for any purpose, if you ARE NOT making money from using it, and that you include copyright & permission notice with all distributed copies & documentation.

Who is developing it?

Radmind is being developed by the Research System Unix Group (RSUG) at the University of Michigan.

Note that there have been many contributations by the open source community, including bug fixes and features. If you are interested in contributing to radmind, you can email the radmind group for guidelines on format, method, etc.