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Connection of several servers to an alone console of keyboard, monitor and mouse

Frequent Advisor

Connection of several servers to an alone console of keyboard, monitor and mouse

Hi all
I have several 9000 servers (rp3440, K380, K580, L1000) and I want to connect them to an alone console of monitor, keyboard and mouse, someone might help to achieve that it is what I need?
In advance thank you
Honored Contributor

Re: Connection of several servers to an alone console of keyboard, monitor and mouse

To make them function as a real console (one that's useful in hardware troubleshooting) you'll want something that can be connected to the serial port.

If you're considering plugging the keyboard, monitor and mouse to the rp3440, be aware that it isn't as simple as it seems. Read this:

In short, the VGA connector on a rp3440 is not active. It exists for the purpose of running MS-Windows using the Itanium CPUs with the same system board (in which case the server would be called a rx2620).

At least the L1000 is designed to work only with a serial console: you can add a display card to it, but the graphical display will work only after the OS has completed startup. It will be completely useless if you're having problems in self-tests and/or booting the system.

If the K's don't have a card that allows connecting the keyboard and monitor, you may have trouble finding those (nope, the ISA or PCI cards won't fit on these beasts). If that kind of card is not installed, they use a serial port for console.

A simple terminal would be a better solution if you don't need GUI capability from your "console" equipment. If you do, it becomes more complex.

You might want to network the whole thing: buy "device servers" (a small device for turning a serial port into a TCP/IP Telnet and/or SSH connection) for the K-class server consoles. The Moxa Nport 6150 might be a nice one... or a single 2-port Nport 6250 could handle both K-class servers.

The L1000 and rp3440 have integrated network consoles (GSP and MP / iLO, respectively), so they don't need a device server. You need a terminal (or a computer with terminal emulator software) for its initial configuration, however.

Now you have several options.
In no particular order:
1.) Equip the rp3440 with the A6150B graphics kit and connect the monitor, keyboard and mouse to it. Now you can use it to access all the other server through the network connections. Unfortunately, this makes all other servers depend on rp3440, which may not be acceptable.

2.) Pick a small PC with a CD-ROM drive. It can be an old one and it does not need a hard disk. You'll be running a "Live-CD" Linux on it, making it your graphical terminal. You can then use a small hub or a switch to make a mini-network of all the networked console connections.

3.) With all the console connections networked, you may not even need a console after all - you can make the server consoles reachable through the network. Remember, though, that L1000's GSP network console can use only Telnet protocol, which means your console passwords are transmitted without any encryption. The Moxa device servers and the rp3440 can use the encrypted SSH protocol (although rp3440 requires a license codeword to activate that).
Bill Hassell
Honored Contributor

Re: Connection of several servers to an alone console of keyboard, monitor and mouse

As mentioned, most of these computers are not PC compatible (ie, keyboard-video-monitor). Like most commercial Unix systems, the console is a serial port and is best handled with serial consoles. The best solution is to use a serial port concentrator, a box with many serial ports plus a LAN connection and a common serial port, You would then use either a normal terminal and give the concentrator the command to connect to a particular port. Or use a PC and connect over the LAN connection to select a specific port.

These concentrators are *not* KVM switches, they are serial port concentrators. Most of the manufacturers make both types of boxes. The other advantage is that your network devices, routers, switches, firewalls, etc usually have serial ports so connecting all of these items gives your staff a way to connect when the usual LAN connection doesn't work.

These boxes are made by:

Digi International
Logical Solutions
MRV Communications
Raritan Computer

Most of them can have from 4 to 32 or more ports and usually use a version of Linux internally to run the concentrator. Most offer SSH communication and some even have a backup modem port in case all networking breaks down. With the modem port, you could still get to the boxes (especially network appliances). The console port is very important as it still talks to you even when the system has crashed or rebooting.

Bill Hassell, sysadmin