If a new administration tool works as advertised, Ubuntu Linux may become much easier for businesses to install, manage and troubleshoot on an enterprise scale. The new tool, dubbed Landscape, arrives March 5 from Canonical.

I first heard about Landscape during the Ubuntu Live event in mid-2007. At the time, I speculated that it could become a great tool for managed service providers (MSPs) to remotely administer Ubuntu-based networks. I still think Landscape could eventually connect with MSPs, as I point out on MSPmentor.net, our sister site.

But first and foremost, Landscape strives to make Ubuntu desktops and servers far easier for network administrators to manage.

According to a press release, Canonical says Landscape is designed to offer:
  • Enhanced system management. For instance, administrators can see a package inventory for each computer; and they can install, upgrade, or remove packages from one or more computers.
  • Improved system monitoring. To wit, Landscape monitors system health and performance, and graphs that data to help administrators pinpoint bottlenecks or other problem areas.
  • Improved system support: Landscape, for instance, can exchange information with Canonical's support team to help diagnose and resolve trouble tickets.
I can't say if Landscape works as advertised. On paper, it reminds me quite a bit of Microsoft's original Systems Management Server (SMS) push in the mid-1990s, which was designed to move the world more rapidly to 32-bit Windows desktops.

SMS hit quite a few bumps in its early years. We'll see if Landscape enjoys a smoother reception within businesses.