You'd be hard pressed to find five tools that can administer any system on any platform. After all, not all systems are on all platforms. But you can find administration tools that bridge the gap and work well on multiple platforms. I tracked down five such tools that can administer, to varying degrees, services and systems (or a combination of the two) in outstanding fashion. They've been proved to be solid tools that make the job of administration less difficult.
Note: This list is also available as a photo gallery.
1: WebminWebmin (Figure A) is one of the most powerful administration tools out there. It's a Web-based system administration tool for UNIX, but it has also been ported to Windows. With Webmin you can administer nearly anything -- from Apache to DNS to Samba... and much more. As you might expect, Webmin on Windows isn't going to have all the bells and whistles typically found on a UNIX-based system. This is simply because not all services that are on a UNIX-based system can be found on a Windows-based system. But you can install Webmin on Windows, and it will help you administer that system as well.
2: MySQL WorkbenchWithout a doubt, MySQL Workbench (Figure B) is the single best graphical tool available to manage a MySQL database. Anything you can do from the MySQL command line, you can do on the Workbench -- only without having to know the commands. Granted, knowing the commands will improve your understanding of how to manage MySQL. But this tool will give you a similar power. And MySQL Workbench is available for both UNIX-based and Windows-based platforms. The MySQL GUI is incredibly user friendly and can manage databases on the local machine or even a remote connection.
3: VirtualBoxVirtualBox (Figure C) isn't an admin tool per se, but it does allow administrators to do solid sandbox testing before deploying a piece of software or a platform. With this tool, you can load up an OS, tweak it, break it, and fix it. You can even serve up platform images remotely, and you'll find various prebuilt images to load up and test or use. VirtualBox will run on UNIX, Linux, Windows, Mac, and Solaris.
4: PaperCutPaperCut (Figure D) is a powerful printer administration tool. It controls printing by monitoring printing quotas and charging different departments at varying costs for printing services. This allows you to control printing budgets and keep an eye on who is printing the most and how to best control spending for this service. You can even control wireless printing. PaperCut is available for Linux, Windows, Novell, and Mac.
5: TeamViewerTeamViewer (Figure E) is a powerful remote administration tool that lets you take control of a remote user's machine and administer and resolve issues. It offers all the features you need in a remote administration tool and it's cross platform. You can go from Windows to Linux, from Linux to Windows, from Windows to Mac, from Android to Windows, etc. TeamViewer doesn't care what platform you're on, so long as you have a network connection and credentials to log into the remote machine. Once you're in, you can administer to your heart's content.
Bridging the gap
Crossing the great platform divide isn't nearly as challenging as it once was -- even from an administrator's perspective. These tools can help you administer a system or service no matter what operating system is being used.
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What cross-platform admin tools would you add to this list? Share your picks with fellow TechRepublic members.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.