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Cheap KVM Over IP?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the throwing-that-noisy-box-into-the-other-room! dept.

News 248

An anonymous reader asks: "I've been looking for a cost effective (ie, cheap) way to remotely administer several servers running a variety of OS's, and would like to have a solution that would allow for monitoring of the bios on startup, etc (ie, not VNC). The most appealing solution is KVM over IP, which really just means a souped up KVM switch with something like VNC running on it, unfortunately all of the solutions I've been able to find are more expensive than I can justify spending. I've played around a bit with making my own Poor man's KVM over IP; I did this by purchasing a cheap (sub $50) VGA-to-NTSC convertor, then feeding it into a video card with NTSC input (the ATI All-In-Wonder Radion), and then by logging into a machine running Windows Terminal Services I'm able to watch the reboot process. Of course, this doesn't address the mouse/keyboard issue, and the quality isn't all that great. What I'm hoping is that someone else might have a suggestion on how to do this, preferably using Linux and the least hardware necessary. Does anyone have any suggestions or insights on ways to do this?" There are pre-existing solutions, but it seems they are all kind of pricey. Can any of you suggest cheap solutions (at or below $500USD) that could handle a farm of 5-10 machines?

"Here are the three approaches I found:

ViewProxy: They make the most economical for administration of multiple machines (by one person). Their ProxyView device plugs into your KVM just like it was a monitor/mouse/keyboard, and then does all the packetizing magic. Price is about $6k from what I can tell.

eRIC: These are the same guys who make the Rolf (Reboot on Lan), which is pretty cool. They make a card called Eric which replaces your normal video card with their card, which has a built in ethernet connection and allows remote control. The cheapest solution at about $700 but only would allow control of the machine it's installed in.

Avocent: I think the first to introduce the whole KVM over IP solution, they have KVM's with this sort of functionality integrated. Some of their products allow multiple users to multiple machine, which is a neat feature but not needed for my applications. Their units run from $4k on up."

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fp? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014703)



Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014802)

Apparently Trollaxor was just window shopping for gas powered string trimmers. Maybe next time he will, in fact, purchase the Ryobi gas-powered string trimmer, but today just isn't that day.

After a brief stop at the restroom, which suprisingly is kept immaculately clean by a retarded janitor who is very happy with his job, he headed towards the mens department, where he bought two packs of three pair of Starter brand black calf-length socks.

He the proceeded to the checkout, where apparently a pack of SMINTS may have been added to his inventory of goods to be purchased. He still has four people in front of him; he's in the express lane but too many people apparently think that 12 items or less means everybody but them.

Will he purchase cigarettes? Will the cashier call a price check???


Maybe use GRACE? (2, Funny)

jaxdahl (227487) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014705)

Use GRACE from the earlier article and tell her to manage the computers.. only problem is that she might budge in your CS games.

Well (0, Offtopic)

CrndrTaco on (598635) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014706)

I didn't want to post this because ssh works well for me but I gues if you use Windows you need something like this.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014720)

You can watch the bootup process, BIOS and all, via SSH?

You might want to alteast read the question before you post.

Re:Well (2, Funny)

Sturm (914) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014726)

Hmm. You can see the BIOS on reboot using ssh? What are you doing, running ssh in ROM?


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014707)

I hate cobol. Surely.

my suggestion (-1, Flamebait)

t0rnt0pieces (594277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014708)

Can any of you suggest cheap solutions (at or below $500USD) that could handle a farm of 5-10 machines? yo momma

Just get Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014710)

It doesn't crash all the time like Linux, so you don't have to worry about all that nonsense. :-P

Would someone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014791)

..please reboot the clue server?

Bandwidth Issues? (2, Insightful)

Vodalian (203793) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014711)

What kinda bandwidth are we talking to transmit say a 1024x768x256 colors (to save bandwidth) screen at a decent frame rate? Hope you have Gigabit Ethernet to run this decently!

What on earth are you talking about? (3, Informative)

los furtive (232491) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014813)

We use VNC here at work over 10/100 at those specs with no issue whatsoever. Hell, I use IBM's Desktop on Call over a 56k Connection without any fuss. Your issue is a non-issue.

Re:What on earth are you talking about? (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014829)

It becomes an issue if you have a lot of screen updates going on at once, and even more if they go beyond 256 colors to 24bit.

Re:What on earth are you talking about? (3, Funny)

los furtive (232491) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014840)

24bit colour resolution for accessing the BIOS? Cripes my computer must be out of date!

Re:What on earth are you talking about? (2, Flamebait)

Coventry (3779) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014839)

Ok, if its a non-issue, why don't you get into the bios of your machines remotely via VNC and change some settings, or view a POST screen to see what error is comming up on bootup... oh wait, VNC Can't Do Those Things...

Re:What on earth are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014862)

Are you a total idiot or just pretending to be one? The man was saying that displaying the screen over the network was not going to be a bandwidth problem. Nothing else. No statements of features that VNC has/doesn't have. Your post makes no sense whatsoever.

Re:What on earth are you talking about? (2)

los furtive (232491) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014886)

He was using VNC and DoC as an example of other applications that can run at 1024x768x256 without being bandwith hogs He wasn't saying they could do the job, only that they didn't hog resources. Don't go taking things outta context.

Re:Bandwidth Issues? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014898)

What kinda bandwidth are we talking to transmit say a 1024x768x256 colors (to save bandwidth) screen at a decent frame rate? Hope you have Gigabit Ethernet to run this decently

I use Terminal Services Client for Win2k @1024x768x256 without any bandwidth issues. It is even acceptable over a 28.8k dialup. (better on a lan, but acceptable on a dialup)

Re:Bandwidth Issues? (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 11 years ago | (#4015100)

I use Terminal Services Client for Win2k @1024x768x256 without any bandwidth issues. It is even acceptable over a 28.8k dialup. (better on a lan, but acceptable on a dialup)

By comparison Netmeeting (and even TightVNC) can't manage that. . . .

Of course, err, what is your definition of acceptible? To me 800x600x8bit Netmeeting over a 256kbit (cable modem, that is max upstream from either end) connection sucks.

aaa (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014712)

first post

How about using this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014715)

Just get Grace [slashdot.org] to type and show you with a webcam? She can probably navigate to the various displays, press the KVM buttons, etc. YOu may have to do some hardware upgrades...

Re:How about using this (0)

Fehson (579442) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014750)

Grace has no hands. Perhaps you could hire an MCSE to push the buttons for her.

This is a market hole (2)

Nijika (525558) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014722)

There's a giant need for this, cheaper. If someone can come up with a 1U KVM over IP box under $2000 USD they'd make a killing in the SME market.

simple solution for 5 machines: (1)

edrugtrader (442064) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014725)

5 monitors, 5 keyboards, 5 mice

price: $200.

Re:simple solution for 5 machines: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014793)

>5 monitors, 5 keyboards, 5 mice

you are stupid

Re:simple solution for 5 machines: (2)

sporty (27564) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014814)

That requires a MUCH larger desk :P And what if it was on a rack?

Re:simple solution for 5 machines: (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014832)

Does anyone know if wireless keyboards have a uid, or not? It would be nice to get cheap IR led off the motherboard and use a single wireless keyboard to admin in the NOC, hmmmz maybe I'll order some online they are dirt cheap and some even come with a serial or usb interface.

Talk about not READING the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014976)

this 'solution' completely ignores the poster's request - how to do this REMOTELY

I've gotten used to seeing posts from people that didn't read an article being linked to, but this is getting absurd!

Rebooting? Whats that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014729)

Oh yeah...now I remember...I "rebooted" last month. Never again. Am I the only one that thinks watching a boot process is a once-in-a-box's-lifetime experience?

Re:Rebooting? Whats that? (3, Funny)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014965)

Oh yeah...now I remember...I "rebooted" last month. Never again.

Just out of curiousity, what is your IP address?

- A.P.

Serial Console (BIOS Redirection) (5, Informative)

Precision (1410) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014730)

Many newer motherboards support BIOS redirection over the serial port. All of my systems (intel 440gx) supports this. It allows full remote BIOS configuration, etc. Used in conjuction with linux's serial console and sysrq over serial I find the solution works quite well.

Re:Serial Console (BIOS Redirection) (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014818)

The best person for any menial job is a blind person who just does that single task. If the bios already has a basic serial driver why not a specialized tcp/ip stack, vnc, and ethernet driver as well? Wasn't there a project to put linux in the bios along with a primitive firewall? Couldn't this be an optional module to this project?

PC Weasel (1, Redundant)

_ph1ux_ (216706) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014736)


makes a card that allows for this... but i havent looked at their product in over a year now - so it might even have greater functionality than last time I looked...

but it allowed for bios monitoring etc...

and you can test one of their cards out from their site. (used to be over telnet)

Re:PC Weasel (2, Informative)

Scrybe (95209) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014789)

This looks like a cool product but would work IF and ONLY IF you only need a console. no mouse, no GUI, no XMMS :`( From the post I am guessing that he needs a mouse and a GUI (XMMS or Winamp optional).

One comprimise might be to use the small slender rodent adapter to capture your post and then use a VNC server for daily operation but that sound almost as kludgey as what he is using now.

Hopefully someone will come up with a smaller/cheaper process for IP KVM's and/or economies of scale will kick in and the price on these units will come down.

One final thought that could be very dangerous, what is the possibility of hacking the BIOS on the motherboard to dump the post out the serial or ethernet ports, heck if there is enough free code space you might even be able to configure through the serial. (note IANAEE and IANACS)

Good luck!

Re:PC Weasel (3, Informative)

laserjet (170008) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014996)

Why would you need anything more than a console? After the machine is booted up beyond the BIOS/etc, you can use the features of X or VNC to do whatever you want with a GUI. There is no need for it.

try cyberguys (3, Informative)

option8 (16509) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014737)

this link (which slashdot will probably munge: http://cyberguys.com/cgi-bin/sgin0101.exe?UID=2002 080514403159&GEN6=00&GEN9=5CG01&FNM=00&T1=104+1150 &UREQA=1&UREQB=2&UREQC=3&UREQD=4

or else try product # 104 1150 on http://www.cyberguys.com

it's a KVM "extender" that works over cat 5 for 500 feet. i don't know who makes it, but the cyberguys catalog had it. this plus a KVM switch on each end of your setup might be enable you to do what you want...

Re:try cyberguys (0, Flamebait)

cjpez (148000) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014776)

this link (which slashdot will probably munge:
Yeah, blame Slashdot. <A HREF="http://getaclue.org">Learn how to make a link!</A>

u r teh WROGN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014870)

Links are created this way on goatdot: <A HREF="http://www.goatse.cx/">Click for the article!!</A>

Oh shit I spelled "article" correctly. Change it to "articel". This is crapdot after all...

What I used once... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014738)

Logitech USB camera connected to another box and this keyboard signal producing box. I dont remember what, but you could send a character to its input via serial and it would send that char into another computer's keyboard.

The PC Weasel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014739)

Check out the PC Weasel: PCWeasel [realweasel.com] . It replaces the video card and allows you to monitor the BIOS startup over a serial port. It won't help after the machine switches to a graphics mode, but at that point you could use VNC, SSH or other stuff. BIOS is the hard thing to monitor on a PC, and the PC Weasel does it. Plus it's somewhat cheap: $350 for the card.

Raritan (3, Informative)

Kraegar (565221) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014745)

Raritan [raritan.com] has some nice CAT5 based KVM solutions, that work terribly well in scaling between small and large environments. However I think the price may be a bit higher then you were hoping.

Cheap alternative (2, Insightful)

Zayin (91850) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014747)

Check out Raritan [raritan.com] . They have a wide range of such products. Not sure about prices though.

are you serious? (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014748)

Umm...how about a serial console for the bios, then just redisplaying X for the gui...via just redisplaying it from unix to unix, or using vnc to see it in windows (or using an X client on windows, like Exceed). I mean...surely you can't be serious. Serial consoles have been around for like, eons. Even if you just use a digiboard so you can connect a bunch of com1's up to serial ports on a single system, that would work. on post, you don't typically have umm...you know...an ip. But through com1, you can do most everything.

RealWeasel (1, Redundant)

friscolr (124774) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014763)

the RealWeasel [realweasel.com] will give you a serial console for i386 hardware. It might be out of your price range, though, at $250 for the ISA and $350 for the pci version.

Dell and other companies come with their own similar solutions - add on boards that allow powering off the server. There are some nice links off of the realweasel site to other places with similar devices.

Otherwise, buy Sun or any other hardware platform that comes with serial console standard.

Hardware solution with caveats for you (2, Interesting)

wherley (42799) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014766)

Check out the Compaq Remote Insight Lights Out [compaq.com] edition board.
  • This full length PCI card has a network interface on it that which you access via a web browser.
  • It self generates an SSL certificate and gives you java access to live screen via java applet.
  • Works best with certain Compaq servers due to better cabling but may work with other servers.
  • Display updates not as snappy as VNC but bearable.
  • Lets you reply last boot sequence even if you weren't watching it live.
  • Lets you use a "virtual" floppy.
  • May have some issues when trying to co-exist with a local KVM switch.
  • Runs around $500 which is at the top end of your price list.

Re:Hardware solution with caveats for you (1)

andykuan (522434) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014909)

I have these deployed in all of our servers and I love it. Not only does it provide excellent remote control of Intel-based boxes, but it's all running over ethernet which means that a) there isn't a massive tangle of KVM cables to manage (imagine twelve 1U servers each with three fixed-length cables run to a single KVM switch -- no thank you!) and b) it runs on IP so I've got all of my infrastructure control/communication consolidated on one network. I've reinstalled Linux from scratch on servers from the comfort of my own home at 3AM.

PC Weasel -- open source product (1, Redundant)

devphil (51341) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014767)

You want www.realweasel.com, and the PC Weasel 2000.

It's open source, it's got a picture of a weasel with an axe standing next to headless (bleeding) Linux Tux and BSD Beastie, and it's from a company called Middle Digital Incorporated. You have to support that if you're a true geek.

Re:PC Weasel -- open source product (1)

trajano (220061) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014817)

I think this product really hits its mark for the price. Might be a useful thing to have on a corporate server farm if I ever run one.

Sneaker Net (5, Funny)

drbaker (265995) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014773)

A pair of Nikes cost less than $500 (but only just). That's about as close as you're gonna get.

Hey, why not? (3, Informative)

delta407 (518868) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014774)

This probably isn't exactly what you were looking for, but I would consider and maybe request an eval of VMware GSX Server [vmware.com] or maybe even ESX Server [vmware.com] . Both let you monitor the virtual machine over IP -- in fact, there's even a web-based administration interface. And, of course, you can watch BSODs as they happen, hit the reset button using your toolbar, and go into the BIOS setup utility remotely.

Neither is cheap (GSX is the cheaper of the two and runs $3500, $1600 academic [creationengine.com] ) but if you can consolidate your boxes into one big box it might be worth it. After all, it's always good to centralize your points of failure, right?

Big thumbs up for VMware.

For God's sake...WHY? (0)

realmolo (574068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014782)

Why would you need to monitor the BIOS on startup? What's that going to do for you?

Re:For God's sake...WHY? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014830)

In a production environment, one sometimes needs to be able to do things to the machine in "BIOS" mode, like change partition/mirroring/raid settings on disk controller, or have machine boot from alternate device for upgrades, etc. Very convenient to be able to do such things remotely....I've installed Linux on former NT boxes using Compaq's remote management boards from 25 miles away

Simple answer... (3, Informative)

Tet (2721) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014785)

...is don't use PC hardware. I have a farm of Suns at a remote hosting site. Because they're Real Computers(tm), they're designed with remote admin in mind. Which means you get a full serial console access, so you can mess around with the PROM (the equivalent of a BIOS), and I can even remotely power them on and off, all via a serial port. A few PC makers are starting to get the idea, but not a single one comes close to Sun (or other non PC hardware like Alphas or Power boxen). Dell and Compaq both offer remote access options, but they're a) expensive, b) require drivers, and hence are geared towards Windows, and c) typically take up the only available PCI slot on a 1U server. With a Netra T1, for example, it just works straight out of the box, no extra purchase needed, all you need to access it is an ANSI terminal emulator, and your precious PCI slot is still free for that extra SCSI card / quad ethernet / whatever.

But given that non-PC hardware is probably not an option for you, then consider something like the RealWeasel, although I've heard mixed reports about it from those that have tried it. The online demo looks like it should at least be usable, though.

Re:Simple answer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014852)

You mean Real Slow Computers(tm), right?

Re:Simple answer... (1)

Master Bait (115103) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014896)

I agree. I also think that if the questioner told us why he thought it was necessary for him to watch his machine boot up, we would have come up with an answer that eliminated the need for him to stand around looking at the bootup screen in the first place.

Re:Simple answer... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014905)

Ask Slashdot:

Q: How do I make A do B?
A: Don't use A. C does B better. Only losers use A.

Moderation: +5 Informative
Usefulness: 0

why not serial console (1)

jormurgandr (128408) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014787)

I know it wont work for windows boxes, but for the linux machines just compile-in support for console over standard serial, run the lines into a multiport serial card (~$50), and ssh into that box to access the servers.

Re:why not serial console (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014838)

I know it wont work for windows boxes, but for the linux machines just compile-in support for console over standard serial, run the lines into a multiport serial card (~$50), and ssh into that box to access the servers.

Windows 2K or is it Windows XP, anyways one of the windows has introduced Serial based consoling. It is a new revolution as they continue one in their quest to invent Unix.

Use an OS with a headless option, Unix Linux, OR.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014854)

Or hire a bunch of peons with digital cameras to
watch the computer boot up and give you the play-by-play over the telephone and email the photos to you over a secure channel. Also, make sure that you get a Micro$erf ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H peon which can type.

bt878s with a gateway running ffserver (2, Interesting)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014790)

How about putting cheapo tvout cards in all the servers, and connecting them all to a dedicated pc that has like 5 bt878 capture cards. (short svideo cables)
That'll let you see the whole boot process including doing bios stuff.

Then run ffserver (ffmpeg, or maybe ffpegrec which is part of nvrec) on this gateway machine to encode and serve up divx5 video streams.

You can add security with freeswan and certificates if you like.

This can all be done using linux fairly easily. The major drawback would be the limit on PCI slots for capture cards. There are cheap Viewcast cards that have 3 inputs you can switch between so you could get at least 15 channels.(just not all at the same time)
You'd need a control channel aswell i guess.. maybe you could get a keyboard switch and write a little script to let you pipe your keyboard actions to whichever machine you want.

Not any time soon... (3, Interesting)

PureFiction (10256) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014795)

KVM over IP is going to be costly into the near future. This isn't exactly commodity hardware, so it may stay high for a looong time.

You may want to consider an alternative approach (which is what I have been doing ever since the remote KVM sticker shock faded) which obviates the need for a remote KVM at all.

For example:
1. All systems boot from custom CD-R (good for security too) which then boots the remainder off a network drive or perhaps hdd.

2. Remote power cycling (cheap, $100 for 8 ports you can controll over IP) is used to power cycle one or more machines to force a reboot.

3. If you need to reimage the OS, simply replace the OS stored on the boot server, or have the CDROM boot image reimage remotely when given a specific trigger (this is the area wide open for all kinds of solutions. Luckily, all software based using linux and cheap CDR's, network filesytems, etc)

This still has a number of drawbacks. If the machine doesnt come back, there is no remote KVM access to tell you what the bios is complaigning about (bad disk?).

The bootup process is cumbersome. I.e. you need to always boot from CDR to be able to reimage a system later (dedicated hosting) and such.

Re:Not any time soon... (2)

swb (14022) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014878)

If I can buy an IP KVM and ditch a convoluted, impossible-to-maintain system like you propose, I'm saving myself thousands in future consulting fees when your house of cards system collapses.

Kaveman - ~$3500 (1, Interesting)

Masao-Kun (1791) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014799)

Not cheap at $3500, but better than the non-video card solutions mentioned...

Kaveman from Digital V6 [digitalv6.com]

They also have models with integrated KVM's for more, but I didn't inquire about the price of those, and they don't put prices on their web page.

Here is a per server solution that is cheap. (2, Informative)

meyeaard (240135) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014804)

Another poster pointed me in this direction....

1. Get a weasle card for each server you have.
2. Get a Clysdale terminal server, or plug the serial into a Linux box and ssh to that system and use minicom....

This may or may not work for windows. Windows won't let you use the weasle as primary video, but if you can add an AGP card to the system for windows and the weasle card for BIOS.... Make sure winblows gets the primary display setup for the AGP card....

This is pure conjecture and you are responsible for any purchases and headaches caused by the preceeding!

Re:Here is a per server solution that is cheap. (1)

meyeaard (240135) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014823)

Oops forgot to post URL to weasle....


Re:Here is a per server solution that is cheap. (3, Funny)

M-G (44998) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014936)

. Get a Clysdale terminal server,

Uh, don't you mean Cyclades? I think someone needs a beer... :)

Re:Here is a per server solution that is cheap. (2)

CoolVibe (11466) | more than 11 years ago | (#4015161)

2. Get a Clysdale terminal server, or plug the serial into a Linux box and ssh to that system and use minicom....

I was with you up until the Clysdale/Livinsgton. The nullmodem-in-*nix box too... but minicom? Yech!

Real serial terminal diehards go for either tip/cu or Kermit [columbia.edu] . Minicom has crappy terminal emulation (especially when dealing with Sun serial console, for example). cu/tip might not play nice with ssh, because the break sequence for cu/tip is the same as in ssh, but that just depends on implementation. Kermit just works everyhere, and anywhere. And it's free too! wow...

Just a tip from a fellow admin with systems on serial console. Ditch that minicom abberation. Heck, even seyon is better.

And, oh yeah, to still stay ontopic, newer intel 1u servers usually have that feature that the bios can be altered/monitored/whatever across the serial port too.

Otherwise, if they're big mighty compaqs, give Compaq Insight a go. It saved me from getting up from bed when I was stuck in the hotel with a 56 Kbit modem connection and someting important decided to crash. I fixed it all remote from the SSL web-interface from my hotel bed. I was done in a short while, and I got to go back to sleep again. Very good. Compaq saved my lusers from a cranky and sleepdeprived sysadmin.

ia1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014816)

I use one of these: compaq ia-1 [ia1hacking.com] running linux (with VNC servers on the other machines). You can actually put whatever you want on it, but linux was fast and easy.

Cost: box ($100 refurbushed from tiger direct), usb->ethernet ($40), and a little bit of time...

I've seen it demoed (2)

swb (14022) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014819)

WrightLine was selling Avocents for a while. They were expensive and required a server and client component in addition to the hardware, but were real slick -- total KVM over IP.

They even had software tools to re-sample a big display (eg, 1600x1200) down to a more managable size (eg, 1024x768) without losing usability.

They lost me due to (1) licensing costs for the management client based on per-machine, (2) it was real dodgy whether it was usable on a DSL-type broadband connection, (3) it was REAL expensive, even if you "waved" the extra client licensing costs (as the salesdude suggested I do).

I hope this kind of tech becomes more common and cheaper to do; it looked like a hardware-based video capture engine and a client application to decompress the video.

They sell them here... (3, Interesting)

TheKubrix (585297) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014825)

Re:They sell them here... (1)

Masao-Kun (1791) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014861)

CAT5 != IP

It may use the same cable as a network, but your router is going to have fits if you plug it into it!

Re:They sell them here... (1)

CerebusUS (21051) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014877)

Yeah, I've been amazed at how many recommendations I've seen here that suggest a cat5 solution. I thought this was slashdot... home of people who understood this stuff. :-)

Re:They sell them here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4015075)

You're thinking of the old slashdot. This is the new slashdot, home of dorks who don't know their acronyms from their assholes.

Re:They sell them here... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4015089)

It may use the same cable as a network, but your router is going to have fits if you plug it into it!


We had a KVM extender that used CAT5 to connect the remote box to the box in the server room.

Nice feature: If you pay attention to what you are doing, you can use the cable that you already pulled to connect these things.

Sucky feature: Sooner or later someone will connect the KVM connector box to the wrong port in the wall, and fry the box. (it probably won't do your router too much good either) (it didn't take us too long)

This is exactly what murphy was talking about when he came up with that law of his.

It doesn't seem fair, but any piece of equipment with a CAT5 cable on it that can't deal with being plugged into an IP router w/o blowing itself or the router should be destroyed immediatly.

Sorta OT (1, Offtopic)

loraksus (171574) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014835)

But IF I don't get modded to hell, does anyone want to make a reccomendation on a cheap regular kvm switch?

Re:Sorta OT (1, Informative)

DJHeini (593589) | more than 11 years ago | (#4015045)

If you only have 2 PCs, I like my Linksys KVM - less than $60 at buy.com including cables, and I can have it buried behind my desk (double-tapping CTRL switches inputs). Only bummer is that it only has PS2 inputs, but I have no problem running my Logitech cordless kb and Intellimouse optical through USB>PS2 adapters. Linksys KVM Kit [buy.com]

Terminal Servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014843)

Use real computers without BIOS and the serial port to boot it.

Real computers have a boot prom.

See Sun, SGI, DEC, any of the classic workstation vendors. Hell, Apple's.

Or realweasel or compaq's stuff. CMon, this isn't hard, it's basic computer science.

VGA - RS232 card (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014846)

Somewhere on the net I heard about a PCI VGA card... that isn't one. It *emulates* a VGA card but actually has a serial port. http://www.bsdmall.com/console.html. It's not *quite* under your price point, but it's pretty close.

some motherboards have serial (1)

Rev. DeFiLEZ (203323) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014872)

what i do at work is we have motherboards that allow serial connects to see the bios and controll it, so we use the kernel option for serial console in linux and get one machine with a lot of serial cards in it .. we ssh into that box and then run minicom and we have a profile for every server so its a simple as minicom servername , although we do use ssh when we can, the serial is just a fall back , as an add bonus, routers and other apliances with serial connect just fine

most (all ) intel serverboards support serial (i know its not AMD but hey, i dont make all the choices) and if you have windows you can just call back to vnc when the logon screen comes up (you can do that right, i remeber someone saying that you cant run stuff while loggin it ... but i never needed to find out)


Cheap Terminal Server (1)

jjv411 (267377) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014876)

On a related note, has anyone found an inexpensive terminal server that can be used for remote administration. I have looked and found only expensive ones. Maybe one really cheap Linux box could be turned into a terminal server for another. Anyone have any experience with this?

Re:Cheap Terminal Server (3, Informative)

travisd (35242) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014977)

Did this: Bought a Cyclades 8-port serial board and stuffed it into a P133. Load $FreeOS and $Term_Program and go at it. Keep in mind that consoled-devices that don't deal well with a serial BREAK may not like it if/when you reboot the console server box. There are usually hardware or software ways around this.

Is this possible??? (1)

BigMFC (592465) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014882)

Take n number of the KVM extenders over cat 5. Plug into ethernet switch (I don't mean the Cisco type of switch. The kind with a switch in front for selecting from n number of inputs. They make them for parallel ports too so you can easily switch between printers). Plug however many devices into switch. In the single output cable, attach other end of KVM cat5 extender and then run cable to terminal. It would be awesome if this worked, but it's possible that the switching device would mangle things up or reduce quality etc. Not quite KVM over IP but its really really cheap if you can get it to work Luck

What about embeded VNC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014920)

But I still dream about card which looks to PC like *GA, but has onboard hardware to run VNC (3D can sacrificed). Near optional VGA output and required ethernet socjet it should also have connector(s) for short cables going to mouse/keyboard or usb socets.
Does anybody know good development kit to start this project?

Remote console over IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4014928)

We have the same problem here. We have a number of Linux and Windows servers running on Compaq and HP Intel servers. Trick is, they are in Denver, CO and I am in Dublin, OH.
For the older systems, we use the DSView from Avocent. At $5k a pop, they are nice to have, but hard to buy.
The newer Comapaq systems have the Remote Insight boards, which are pretty nice. The even newer ones have the Remote Insight built in, so it doesn't use up a PCI slot
None of this helps you, though. I did once see a solution that ran PCAnywhere on a PC with custom hardware to plug into a KVM switch, it was about $4k.
If you hardware developers are listening, please know that there would indeed be a huge market for a $2000 12 or 24-port KVM-over-IP solution, as more companies outsource support, co-loc their servers, of built remote POP's. I would love to see one.

MegaRAC-G2 (2, Informative)

unclei (55647) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014929)

Disclaimer: I work for AMI on the MegaRAC-G2

That said, the MegaRAC-G2 sounds similar to what you want. It's not really a KVM switch (although you might see one from us in the future), but it is a great remote access card. It does very fast video redirection (10-15 fps) of the server's native display - which means it works on the console, in bios, in X, Windows, whatever. It redirects the client's keyboard/mouse activity, and even cdrom and floppy drives if you want.

It does a lot of other cool stuff too, check out the website: http://www.ami.com/megarac/

Oh yeah, and the card runs linux, and requires no drivers on the server. :)

Ask Slashdot? This ain't a support forum (-1)

bryans (555149) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014938)

Ask Slashdot is bloody lame, this ain't a technical support forum. Give us some real news.

Compaq Remote Insight (3, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014956)

I just picked up a few Compaq Remote Insight boards on ebay for about nine dollars each. Seems to be a good system as it allows remote power on and access even after a power outage thanks ot a battary backup.

Low Tech Solution (1)

compjma (591836) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014960)

Try using a VersaPoint RF Wireless Keyboard, a 900 Mhz RF signal booster on each end, a local computer with a KVM attached, and a webcam. If you don't need quite that much range, just run long cables with signal amplifiers every 100ft or so.

WTI CMS-8 (1)

rivvah (593732) | more than 11 years ago | (#4014981)

http://www.wti.com/cms8.htm [wti.com]

It's a little pricier ($995), but if you couple this bad boy with a RealWeasel card in each box, you have an end-to-end solution to make a geek proud. ;)

(it's also Sun ready, for your non-PC needs)

'Ask Slashdot' has taught me something. (5, Insightful)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 11 years ago | (#4015001)

Namely this: There are two ways to do things: The right way, and the Slashdot way.

The Right Way involves spending a little more money up front, but its benefits are manyfold: A proven solution, vendor support, reliability, stability, and various and sundry other good things.

The Slashdot Way involves duct tape, bailing wire, and, sometimes, a 386 running RedHat. Its generally insignificant up-front savings are offset by the countless hours of configuration, tuning, tweaking, prodding, poking, and general lackluster performance of the contraption in question.

You have chosen to go The Slashdot Route. I wish you luck as you set up your TV cards and serial ports. You will need as much luck as you can get, and an awful lot of patience.

- A.P.

Totally Wrong Dude (2, Funny)

MyHair (589485) | more than 11 years ago | (#4015176)

The Slashdot Way involves duct tape, bailing wire, and, sometimes, a 386 running RedHat.

Dude, you're way wrong. Pentium 166's are now the preferred GNU/Linux "rescued from the garbage heap" platforms for these applications. And you've got the sometimes in the wrong place. It always involves Linux, although not necessarily RedHat. Duct tape and bailing wire are in the sometimes used category.

[Disclaimer: this is not a serious post, and I don't usually talk or type this way.)

Blackbox KVM Ethernet Extenders/Hubs (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4015017)

BlackBox [blackbox.com] has a line of ethernet KVM extenders that can be used with other BlackBox KVM solutions.

Blackbox Ethernet KVM Equipment [blackbox.com]

Forgive the javascript errors, this was the only way to link to that exact page on the blackbox site.

IP-to-serial adapters (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 11 years ago | (#4015038)

We totally solved this by using IP-to-serial concentrators which makes every host's serial console reachable via telnet. The only limitation, of course, is not being able to see BIOS messages when using cheap PC hardware. Better PC hardware like Intel server boards lets you see the BIOS on the serial port. Naturally all the major Unix systems already do this. If you're using Windows, well, driving into work to fix your machine is the price you pay for the "convenience" of Windows.


Dell DRAC cards can do this (1, Informative)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 11 years ago | (#4015111)

Dell sells these cards with some of their servers. They will allow you to do pretty much what you have said. I don't know if they require any special connections but you could look into it.

"The Dell Remote Assistant Card is part of Dell's Open Manage program. DRAC offers "dead" server manageability via network or modem/remote access. This card allows you to access, diagnose and remotely manage your server regardless of its state."
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