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Re: Console Servers

  • From: Charles Sprickman
  • Date: Tue Sep 10 17:00:55 2002

Hello all,

Here's what I've found out.  It's a mix.  If any one solution looks to
be the "winner" it's the roll-your-own solution.  This is what I'm going
for since it's relatively cheap for low-density installs.  The only
problem I'm finding is that it's tough to get a 1U box that has 2 PCI
slots open.  2U seems overkill.  Since Compact Flash adapters are cheap
(about $20) and the cards themselves can be had for $59 (128MB), I'm going
to go diskless.  I'll probably use conserver, but I'll be giving rtty a
try as well.

If anyone has pointers to cheap 1U or 2U's, I'm all ears.  Just need a
minimal box, don't need much CPU for this.

With about 13 replies, I can report the following:

> Lantronix -

1 vote for, one against.  The complaint was that the Lantronix has a very
bad management interface.

I also noted that BBC is using a mess of these at Telehouse...

> Cyclades -

4 for.

"Under the covers, it's your average linux box with ttys0-ttys31.  The
portslave software is pretty nice, too.  Offline data buffering and the
ability to stick a hostname relationship with a serial port.  [Ex:  ssh2
bob:myserver@cyclades to connect to server myserver ]"

Another poster is using the cyclades and the digi, and if I'm reading him
right, uses the Cyclades 48 port for smaller installations and the digi on

> Digi -
> Looks to run about $1800 for 16 ports

1 for (kind of).  The poster has a large installed base and it mostly
works and has a very high density.  Apparently it's a two-piece system
where a cable fans out to boxes that further split it.  But if one of the
splitters locks up, everything dasiy-chained through it locks up.  This
person is now using Cyclades (please correct me if I'm wrong on this one).

Equinox - 2 folks using these (cards).

"We use the Equinox SST-128P (theoretically expandable to 128 ports,
comes in 16-port chunks) on Linux. Their linux drivers work well [...]
It's aPCI card with a cable to an external plugboard with the 16 RJ-45s."

"I have had a bit of experience with Equinox (
gear and can recommend them. Their serial hubs will talk serial to almost
anything out there and when plugged into cat5, tunnel those serial ports
back to physical mappings on a host system.  [...] Geared more towards
industrial applications (what I'm using them for) but I have often
considered slapping one in our telecomm rack to map serial ports
on my local box to our various gear."

Cisco -

2 suggestions to use a 2511 or a 3620 with 16 port async cards.  The 2511
would probably be a bit too slow if you enable ssh though...

Livingston -

2 for an old portmaster behind an ssh-able box (if you have the space)

Arula Systems (

1 vote for this, apparently a new company.

Build your own -

5 for this solution.  Everyone is using FreeBSD, and the RocketPort cards
seem to work better than the Cyclades cards under FreeBSD.  3 people are
using conserver ( to make it easier to manage.  Paul
Vixie shared the following (he gave permission to quote in full):

"We use RocketPort, FreeBSD, IronSystems, and ISC rtty.

This puts a BSD box in every POP, which is very useful for many reasons."

So there you are...  Thanks for all the responses.


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