SUMMARY: switch console amongst servers.

From: Frank Pardo (fpardo@mail.tisny.com)
Date: Mon Aug 19 1996 - 14:30:17 CDT


Dear Colleagues,

Wow. What a response. Literally dozens of helpful suggestions between
Thursday and Monday. Here's the summary, and many many thanks to all
who replied.

Credit: In every case, your "From:" line precedes my abridged version of
your response.

The replies that didn't mention a specific product or vendor are first;
followed by the others, alphabetized by vendor name.

Thanks!

--
  Frank Pardo           <fpardo@mail.tisny.com> 
  System Administrator 
  Transaction Information Systems
  New York City

________________________________________________________________________ THE ORIGINAL QUERY

Date: Thu, 15 Aug 1996 17:06:33 -0400 (EDT) From: fpardo@mail.tisny.com (Frank Pardo) Subject: switch console amongst servers?

My boss wants to put 4 or 5 servers into a back room, and if possible hook all of them to a single "console" (where "console" means monitor plus keyboard plus mouse) that would somehow be shared by all the servers. (The servers are Sparc 5's; uhh... really Sparc IPC's with upgrade motherboards from "Cycle 5".)

Any suggestions? Will summarize if successful. TIA.

________________________________________________________________________ (general advice)

From: james mularadelis <jamesm@matrix.newpaltz.edu>

you have several solutions..

one is to get a screen/keyboard multiplexer, which makes it able for you to use one keyboard/screen and have a switching unit to select between the 5.. i haven't seen this done with sparc stations

the other solution would be to get a dumb terminal, hook it up to a 5 port abcde switch (much like those printer selector boxes) then set each system to use that as the console.. granted it's ascii based but it works and is simple and inexpensive to use.. i have a sparc 2 and ultra enterprise 3000 hooked up to a vt100 terminal and they're both happy.. you loose the mouse... so, i use one of the other stations that aren't connected to this terminal as a pseudo x terminal... i just login and run the x based apps remotely...

From: Dieter Gobbers <GOBBERS@FAW9370.FAW.UNI-ULM.DE>

If you want to use those machines only as servers you don't need graphics and mouse. In that case you can use a textterminal with multiple serial lines.

From: Henry Katz <hkatz@panix.com>

you can purchase a sparc console switch from several vendors but I think this is a bad idea. it is a better idea to go to the serial port of each of these boxes over a terminal server that is network/remote accessible. this won't work if you require a gui interface but most server access is over the net via xterm or just telnet. the terminal server is much more cost effective than the switch and obviously supports simultaneous access.

From: Michael Blandford <mikey@lanl.gov>

Use a vt100 terminal and a multi-port serial switch box.

From: Bruce Cheng <bcheng@aspect.com>

This should answer your question. : : (The main body of Mr. Cheng's reply is ca. 650 lines of SGML. If you want the whole thing, please let me know. -fp) : :

________________________________________________________________________ APEX

From: David Theroff <dst@farcast.com>

There are many different companies that have console switches. I like the one that Rose Electronics has the best. They have one called the "Serveview" that allows the chaining of console switch boxes for up to 256 machines (any combination of SUN SPARC, pc, or mac) to one monitor and one keyboard and mouse. They are designed so that the sparcs will boot even though they do not have a keyboard directly connected into them.

I am getting ready to put lots of machines in racks and will have one rack with nothing but these console switches in them.

Rose Electronics 10707 Stancliff Road Houstin Tx 77099 (713) 933-7673

Unit they sell is called a ServeView ; each console switch holds 16 machines (also 4, 8, 12 ones as well) and can be chained

Another conole switch company

Apex Solutions 20031 142nd ave Woodinville, WA 98072 (206) 402-9393 or 1-800-861-5858 http://www.apexpc.com

SunDial product allows up to 100 sparcs to be controlled from one station

________________________________________________________________________ ARTECON

From: zeke@fnoc.navy.mil (William T. Reckas)

We have installed an ARTECON 16 port serial board in a Sparc 10 which allows us to connect up to 16 systems (one to each port). We then purchased some software from Sun Intergration Consulting Services which basically runs "cu" on the various ports. We have it configured to run under X11 and thus open up an xterm window running this "cu" to each connected port. To switch between consoles is simply a matter of switching to a different window. Works pretty well. Sometimes we'll see some characters getting lost, but this hasn't caused any problems.

Sun can probably get you the exact name of the software (SUNIetcs). If you have problems, I could look around here for someone who has more information on it.

From: Phil Kao <phil.kao@artecon.com>

I know that this isn't exactly what you are looking for, but if you wanted to reboot one of these machins without having to walk into the backroom, you may want to take a look at http:/www.artecon.com for their Lynxswitch. It is a remote monitoring device.

________________________________________________________________________ AURORA

From: twhite@bear.com (Thomas White)

On the old job - we used both the 8 port and 16 port boards from:

Aurora Technologies 617 290 4800 or support@auratek.com

this package has a card that is inserted into the sparc that acts as the Keyboard/Mouse/Display server and software install. never saw the bill for it but I know it's not cheap.

________________________________________________________________________ BLACK BOX

From: "Daniel J Blander - Sr. Systems Engineer for ACS" <Daniel.Blander@ACSacs.Com>

I believe Black Box has a switch box to do this - we bought one for a customer that handled 4 units....

From: "Duane R. Larkin" <duane@cris.com>

I've seen switch boxes for Sun's - with up to 8 ports. I don't have a source, so I'm sure this isn't all that useful :) You can try someone like Black Box.

________________________________________________________________________ LIGHTWAVE

From: Reto Lichtensteiger <rali@meitca.com>

Yeah, I answered this a couple o' days ago on another request ... Guess she never bothered to doa summary ... +sigh+

I'm afraid this reponse will be shorter (I hate repeating <g>)

There's a box called "ServerSwitch", available from Access Development Corp. in CT. [ (800) 228 0795 ]. It has 5 13W3 connectors on the back (plus a keyboard miniDIN for each) for inputs from systems and one 13W3/miniDIN to go out to the console.

Active electronics, so if a server reboots it thinks it has a monitor/keyboard attached, even if the switch is set to display a different server.

Costs about 2 grand ...

From: Bob Brown <bbrown@xsoft.sd.xerox.com>

We have had good success with a box called ServerSwitch made by Lightwave Communications in Milford CT. Phone # is 203.878.9838

The model 99 allows up to 5 SPARC's to be connected to one keyboard/mouse and monitor.

From: jeffw@smoe.org (Jeff Wasilko)

see www.lightwavecom.com

From: Matthew Stier - BSG Corporation <matthew.stier@imonics.com>

We do this with all our Sun Servers, using the Lightwave ServerSwitch.

Contact Lightwave Communications (www.lightwavecom.com) or Midrange Solutions (one of thier resellers)

From: karen@ecomon1.FMR.Com (Karen Barrett)

I have had very good success using a Switch that Lightwave Communications sells. It allows you to plug up to 5 systems into it (or 4 plus another switch, allowing you to cascade them). You can then use one Sun monitor, keyboard and mouse to control all 5 (or more) systems.

Lightwave is at www.lightwavecom.com or (203) 878-9838.

From: jackg@calfp.com (Jack Goldsmith)

We bought a console switch from Lightwave Communications. We are very happy with it. We opted for a serial connection since we would use it very rarely and since none of our servers had frame buffers, we could not justify the extra expense. There are producst on the market (I think they have one also) that connect a PC to the graphics ports of many Sparcs. The only experience I have with them is looking at their glossies when we were looking into purchasing a console switch.

________________________________________________________________________ MAGMA

From: David Fan <david@magma.COM>

You can use our Sbus serial ports multiplexor. Connect the serial ports to the ttya of the Sparc5s. Open up four windows in the local machine and run 'tip' on each of them. Then, you can monitor four consoles in your machine. This is what our customers usually do.

________________________________________________________________________ NETWORK TECHNOLOGIES

From: Andi Paton <apaton@wtl1.demon.co.uk>

You can buy a box that connect to all your systems to one monitor, keybaod and mouse and then be able to switch from one to the other.

I saw this company in Sun Expert, I had a play with one and quite liked it. Network Technologies Inc 1275 Danner Drive Aurora OH 44202 Tel: 216-562-7070 Fax: 216-562-1999 Toll Free 800-742-8324

________________________________________________________________________ NUDATA

From: anderson@neon.mitre.org (Mark S. Anderson)

Call NuData at 800-844-5757 and get their "Workstation Express" catalog. They have a switch for $2000.00 that enables you to use a single keyboard and monitor with up to 8 Sun hosts simultaneously.

From: Sean Ward <seanw@amgen.com>

We got our video switch boxes from NuData, 908-842-5757, part number 4263/4264, and they work great. They allow for up to 8 monitors and keyboards to be connected together.

________________________________________________________________________ RARITAN

From: jonesmd@unifiedtech.com (Mike Jones)

Yeah. I just spec'ed a product called "Master Console" for a NYC government client. It's from Raritan Computer Systems in New Jersey, www.raritan.com. I haven't had my hands on the actual product yet, but the literature looks pretty good and this is a pretty simple product.

My company does Unix integration and network computing services in the Albany and New York City areas. I'd be interested in talking to you about your Unix and network setup. (It's safe, I'm an engineer. I promise not to sic a sales rep on you unless you ask.)

From: somebody@tempest.ashd.com

Yes this is a very common need. And sometimes it can be the hardest thing to solve. I have found a company I use called Reitan (excuse my typo if I said it wrong). Which has a box that can support upto 12x3 station benig of sparc,PC,and mac all on box and have the ability to carry the video signal upto 150" without a problem. If anyone is interested I can provide the company's name and number when I am back in the office. Carlos

________________________________________________________________________ ROSE

From: (John R Worachek) ▀vm4¸+╔t@jcpenney.com

We use a switch from Rose Electronics that switches 4 servers with 1 monitor and keyboard.

Just press the button for the one you want.

From: "Rick Loftus" <Rick_Loftus@SNS.ca>

We are currently managing server Sun and PC servers from one monitor keyboard and mouse. The product we are using is the ServeView CPU Access Controller made by Rose Electronics (713) 933-7673.

It is able to control up to 256 RS/6000's, Apple's, Sun's and PC's from a single monitor, keyboard and mouse. It's a little expensive but itr works great.

From: David Theroff <dst@farcast.com>

There are many different companies that have console switches. I like the one that Rose Electronics has the best. They have one called the "Serveview" that allows the chaining of console switch boxes for up to 256 machines (any combination of SUN SPARC, pc, or mac) to one monitor and one keyboard and mouse. They are designed so that the sparcs will boot even though they do not have a keyboard directly connected into them.

I am getting ready to put lots of machines in racks and will have one rack with nothing but these console switches in them.

Rose Electronics 10707 Stancliff Road Houstin Tx 77099 (713) 933-7673

Unit they sell is called a ServeView ; each console switch holds 16 machines (also 4, 8, 12 ones as well) and can be chained

Another conole switch company

Apex Solutions 20031 142nd ave Woodinville, WA 98072 (206) 402-9393 or 1-800-861-5858 http://www.apexpc.com

SunDial product allows up to 100 sparcs to be controlled from one station

________________________________________________________________________ SUN

From: "Scott Williamson" <scottw@morse.co.uk>

Sun have a thing called "Cooperative Consoles" which would do exactly what you want but I think it's a bolt-on to SunNet Manager so unless you use that already it would be an expensive solution.

What about connecting all the console serial ports into a terminal concentrator? Then you should be able to access them from anywhere on the network. I'm sure there are concentrators out there which would be able to put reasonable security on it (you don't want just anyone to be able to send a break signal to the console). I think this is the method that Sun uses in HA clustering.

________________________________________________________________________ WORKSTATION EXPRESS

From: pml@cacs.usl.edu (Patrick M. Landry)

You can either use a machine with a serial port multiplexor to connect to the serial ports on the "servers" or you can buy a switch to switch a monitor/keyboard/mouse amongst the servers. The latter will cost between $700 and $2000 depending on model. Workstation Express has a few different models available. 800-844-5757. I use a SS1 with a mux and have never used one of the monitor/keyboard/mouse switches.

________________________________________________________________________ XYLOGICS

From: gmp@adc.com (Gregory M Polanski)

Use 'headless' servers. Or if you already own them, disconnect the keyboard and the monitor.

Use a null modem from each unit (ttya) to a terminal server such as an Xylogics Annex III.

Now you have remote access to each machine and to each machine's console.

If you feel that you need a display, use a cheap sparc and telnet to each box. In fact on the SPARC, you could have a telnet session to each port and show the console of all boxes simultaneously.

If you are worried about the network, add a modem to the terminal server for late night dial up access.

From: Robert Jennings <rjenning@informix.com>

There was a similsr mailing recently on this list. Below find the listing. Mariela Esser-Jaime might be able to help. Also find my response. I hope some of this helps.

Mariela Esser-Jaime wrote: > > Looking for servers consoles solution... > > PROBLEM: > The number of servers in our computer rooms has very rapidly > increased, outgrowing the system we had in place for server > consoles. > What was set up a few years ago was a bank of Falco terminals > (dumb terminals with three ports each). This set up is no > longer adequate not only because of physical space limitations > but also becuase we can't buy nor send out for repair these > terminals any more. > > GOAL: > Ideally, the solution to this problem should: > 1) be long term. It must allow for future computing growth. > 2) be remotely accessible (i.e., console terminal?), and > 3) be reliable, and maintainable. > > Please share your knowledge and experience with us. I am sure > someone out there already came out with a state-of-the-art system > we can all learn from. I will post a summary, of course.

You can use a terminal server for this. If you connect up the console port of each host to the terminal server. You can then connect to the ports on the terminal servers and get the console session by just using telnet. Some terminal servers will even actually keep a history of all the messages sent to that port (console) and ask you if you want to see the history when you connect to the port. Ofcourse you have to get a terminal server that is managed by a host as it will need somewhere to store the history. The one I have seen in place was a Xylogic terminal server (Not sure about the name could be Xylinx).

From: rtrzaska@uk.mdis.com (Ray Trzaska)

use a terminal server ( we use xylogics/annex or spider ) and plug the console ports into the terminal server - configure the ports on the terminal server as slave mode (?) and you have access from any machine that can connect to the terminal server - so you then need to password control that.

then from a central workstation connect to each of te terminal server ports that connect to the console ports - on the annex it is telnet annex 5001 to give connection to port 1 on the annex wich connects to that console

________________________________________________________________________ [end]



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