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A remote administration tool for Macintoshes running 9.x operating systems. This is somewhat unique because it's actually a piece of software made by Apple.

The premise is similar to other remote administration tools. You select individual machines (either by machine name or IP address) and create groups to administer. In my case, I use the names of machines since they're arranged by room number anyway.

Network Assistant does the usual array of tasks like like trash emptying and desktop rebuilding (a possible lead if the system is performing sluggishly.) One of the most handy features allows you to diff entire machines or single applications. This allows you to do upgrades in a single sweep.

Another fairly powerful (although not very stable when dealing with more than 15-25 machines at a time) feature is the "Copy Hard Drive" command which allows you to clone multiple machines from one "perfect" hard drive much like Norton Ghost. I imaged something like 150 machines in a couple of days using this feature. It's nowhere near perfect (ie. one crashing machine brings down the entire process) but as a crude tool for cloning a dozen or so drives at the same time it works fine.

The disturbing part about NA is that it allows an administrator to view your screen remotely. By default a set of eyeballs appears on the finder bar to notify the user that they're being monitored. However, this can be switched off very easily. There is also a logging feature that displays the times that an administrator has observed the machine but this is usually disabled.

There probably will not be a version of NA for Mac OS X. If Apple ever releases a real client version of OS X this capability should be integrated into the operating system. Or at least that's what I've been hearing from flacks for the past year.

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