[CentOS] [OT] CAT5 IP-capable rackmount KVM units?

Brian Mathis brian.mathis at gmail.com
Thu Dec 31 16:49:41 UTC 2009

On Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 10:28 PM, Thomas Harold <thomas-lists at nybeta.com> wrote:
> Rather off-topic, but I'm looking for IP-based KVMs (~16 ports) that can
> handle both PS/2 and USB hookups on the server side.  All of the answers
> over at Slashdot are a few years out of date and it looks like prices on
> KVM head units have dropped a bit over the years.
> Some of the older units only worked with Windows, Internet Explorer and
> ActiveX.  Others like the ATEN KH1516i supposedly use Java and are far
> better from a cross-platform point of view.
> I'm on the fence about the CAT5 cables over the more traditional style,
> it seems like the CAT5 cable system would give a lot more flexibility in
> dealing with USB vs PS/2 servers (or even serial only?).  The bigger
> advantage with the CAT5 stuff seems to be fewer length limitations and
> less space used in the rack for the head unit.
> I'm guessing that the CAT5 adapters are going to be proprietary?

I'm using an Avocent DSR1020 and it works just fine.  The admin
console is web-based and works with Firefox, and the remote console
app is java based.  I've only used it on Windows, but I think any
system with a java install would support it.

The way it works is that you buy the main console box, and then you
buy dongles for each server that you need to control.  Dongles can be
VGA/PS2, VGA/USB, or VGA/Sun.  They probably have other too.  They all
plug into a CAT5 cable on the back of the dongle and then into the
main console unit.  The dongles are proprietary, and there's no way
you're going to get around that with any vendor.

I can't speak to CAT5 as far as length is concerned, as I'm only using
it within the space of 1 rack, but I can say it's far easier to deal
with CAT5 cables in a rack than the traditional type (very long fat
VGA cables with additional PS2/USB cables glued on).  They fit into
cable management more easily, and with a rack full of servers you save
a lot of space with thinner cables.

Overall using CAT5 is a lot easier, just don't make the mistake of
thinking that it's ethernet.  CAT5 just provides the wires, the
signaling is proprietary and would probably fry an ethernet port if
you plugged one in.  I suggest using different color cables
specifically for the KVM connections.

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