[CentOS] using a Laptop as a KVM console?

Devin Reade gdr at gno.org
Mon Oct 18 01:20:41 EDT 2010


Rudi Ahlers <Rudi at SoftDux.com> wrote:

> I want to use a laptop as a KVM console.
[snip]

Other people have pointed out KVM-over-IP devices for your legacy or 
low end machines (ALOM/iLO/DRAC/whatever is still cheaper for
server-grade hardware).

I'd like to bring up the AdderLink IPEPs, which I can say from experience
is a very nice device.  They are very stable and the over-the-wire 
protocol is encrypted VNC which means, unlike many of the lower-end
competitors, you're not forced to use a Windows box to access the 
console of your windows machine.  The IPEPs has an IP-blocking mechanism
if someone tries to brute-force it.  (Of course, having it on a
non-publicly-available management network is still better.)

<http://www.adder.com/uk/products/IPEPS.aspx>
or
<http://www.adder.com/uk/products/IPEPS_Dual_access.aspx>

While they market them as one-per-server, you can easily amortize the
cost by hooking the IPEPs to an electronic KVM switch (the kind that
allows you to switch machines based on keyboard strokes rather than
flipping a switch), and then hooking the KVM to your servers.  Thus
the fanout depends on the capability of your KVM switch. Note that
using the KVM means that you have a security model that assumes that
anyone who logs into the KVM is permitted console access to any attached
server.  (They'd still have to log into each server.)

I think that AdderLink also has multi-server versions of IP-over-KVM
that may be better/cheaper if you need to allow for different people
with different security access to get at the servers.

Unlike an ALOM/iLO/DRAC, the IPEPs does not have any power switching
capability, so you'd still need to cover that capability off as well
if you need it.  For power management, there are also many options
for PDUs but I'd suggest the APC line, such as the AP7901 or equivalent:

<http://www.apc.com/products/resource/include/techspec_index.cfm?base_sku=AP7901>

IMO, this is only suitable for single-power-supply servers  (If you're
using a redundant power supply in your servers, you should also have
an ALOM/iLO/DRAC.)

If you go the IPEPs + KVM route, I'd suggest ensuring that your KVM
doesn't draw power from the keyboard/monitor/mouse connectors so that
if you need to reset the KVM you can power cycle it remotely via a
PDU rather than needing to be on site.  (The DLink DKVM-8E is
inexpensive, but it has the draw-power-from-multiple-sourcs problem
and sometimes after a power outage it needs a reset -- for which we
need on-site access. *grumble*)

Devin



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