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Remote Calculations

November 1, 1998

Like most people who use the Web, you probably use it largely for the passive retrieval of information-images, text or video. But the Web also can easily be used to gain access to computers halfway around the world and to exploit those machines to do your own data manipulation. Now, researchers at the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed software that makes it easier to do just that.

NIST’s “WebSubmit” software permits users to run programs seamlessly off remote, high-performance computers. In itself, that’s nothing new. Slightly esoteric technologies such as telnet have been offering that capability for years. But the NIST software allows a user to utilize the remote machine without ever leaving the familiar graphical interface of the Web.

The user connects to the target machine through a WebSubmit server and sees the same Web browser, regardless of the operating system of the remote machine. As a result, the user can hop from system to system without having to learn the operating procedures of each high-performance computer.

Hackers shouldn’t get their hopes up too high, though. As in other systems, the user will have to be cleared for access to the remote machine.

WebSubmit is scheduled to be available to the public from NIST by year’s end.

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