remote keyboard and screen

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Suppose I have 2 computers: one production server and one old slow machine
occasionally used for tests. Both of them have public IPs. In most cases I
would login to this server through ssh and do things that I need. But it
can happen that one day my system won't boot because of wrong kernel
version, hard drive crash, etc. Then I would like to be able to log in to
the second machine via ssh (I assume it's working properly) and control the
first one as if I was in front of it. That basically means being able to
change BIOS settings, fix lilo/grub, etc. Are there any devices that would
allow me to do this? If so how are they called?
Tomasz Grobelny

Re: remote keyboard and screen

It is going to be difficult to do that if you want to be able to view
the system at POST. That is, most remote-desktop-type solutions occur
after the machine has booted.

There are POWER STRIPS that you can purchase that allow simple remote
access (often via serial so you can plug them into a modem OR a serial
port on another machine) that let you power cycle a machine from remote.
This may be sufficient for you.

Otherwise, you can find expensive KVM solutions that may allow you to do
what you want. There are KVM-over-IP products available on the Internet
that may let you login to a "KVM server" from remote and get full
keyboard+mouse+video access to both machines. In the old days
KVM-over-IP solutions were expensive, but it wouldn't surprise me if you
could find simple versions of them for cheap(er).


Tomasz Grobelny wrote:
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Re: remote keyboard and screen

Ted Pavlic wrote:
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I will propably be using Linux so serial console is available after kernel
has booted successfully. That's half solution, I was just wondering how
much would full solution cost ;-)

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All I found is $549 MegaRAC@K1 ( /). Still to expensive.
Something like VGA card emulator (640x480x16) with keyboard connection
would be sufficient. This would have the additional benefit of not
converting signal to analog and back thus saving the bandwidth.
Tomasz Grobelny

Re: remote keyboard and screen

Eek. I was expecting cheaper KVM-over-IP solutions than that. :( I'm
really surprised there aren't cheaper solutions out there. I think I've
seen KVM-over-IP solutions RECENTLY that supported 4 (or even 8!)
computers that were around the $500-600 price range, so I would think
that for something supporting one or two it would be significantly less.
It may be like finding a needle in a haystack though.

It really sounds like a "PC Weasel" would be appropriate for you.

It even has the ability to let you reset your computer from remote. The
PCI version came out in 2003, and the website is still up, so I *ASSUME*
that they still sell these things. The PCI version is listed on their
website as $350 and the ISA for $250. You might be able to find someone
who has one of these things and is willing to get rid of it for less
than that.

[ FYI - The PC Weasel is an open source product; every purchaser gets a
license to use its microcontroller and access to the microcode on-board ]

Now, if that's not sufficient, then you can try piecing something
together yourself. For example, get a video capture card for one
computer and a VGA converter for the other computer. You can then
capture the video from one computer onto the other computer. I'm not
sure that it will render well over a VNC/RDC type remote connection;
however, it's a start.

To get keyboard, look on-line for a "serial keyboard" driver. I'm almost
positive that SOMEONE has put something together that allows you to send
keyboard signals via your serial port. I'm guessing that you can use a
Serial-to-PS2 (for old mice, for example) converter (with a gender
changer on the PS2 end?) to actually generate the PS2 (or AT) keyboard
signals (of course, the software will tell you exactly which type of
connector you need).

Splitting this problem up into smaller problems (like using a capture
card and finding a serial keyboard driver) may make it easier to solve.

Good luck. :-/

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