SUMMARY: Sharing Monitors

From: Phil Poole (
Date: Mon Jul 08 1996 - 09:50:04 CDT

Howdy all,

Sorry I have been so long summarizing..but I have been pretty busy.

Original Question:
  Howdy all,
          I am seeking information regarding switch boxes to be used for
          sharing a monitor between 3 suns.
          I have yet to find a decent desk that can hold 3 Sun stations.
          At any rate...I am planning on rack mounting 3 Sparc 20's
          disks, peripherals, etc...and would like to share 1 monitor
          between the three.
          Can anyone recommend a good switch box or relate any
          experiences they have had with a similar set-up ?

   Since the budget is tight around here I could not justify the
   purchase of a 19" cabinet ($1500) + the switch box & cables ($1000)

   Therefore, since we already have keyboards and monitors for the
   workstations and are using a vt100 for the third I decided to
   go with a 24" cabinet that will fit the two monitors and associated
   peripherals. Keyboard drawers are only $50.

   The third machine will most likely sit on a table next to the cabinet.

   Other solutions and suggestions follow the credits.

Thanks go to the following:
Herbert Wengatz
Steve Wagner
Reto Lichtensteiger
Steve Scott
Celeste Stokely
John Hall
David Schiffrin
Bob Rahe
Bill Townsley
Apolonio Maranion
Sameer Vadekke-Kuruppath
Other Solutions/Suggestions

I don't know specific vendors, but I see these advertised in the back of
SunExpert, Unix Review, and even PC Magazines (and they say they're for
Suns, too) all the time.

All types, from mechanical to electronic switches.

..Celeste Stokely, Unix System Administration Consultant, Stokely Consulting

Nu Data (908-842-5757) makes a nice box. There are several other companies
doing this also. You might search for "ServeSwitch". I see ads in "Sun
World" regularly for these types of devices.

John Hall | | Siemens Medical Systems Inc.
Network Administrator | InterNIC: JH411 | Ultrasound Group

I've used boxes from Cybex with great success for this. This box will also let you share keyboards and mice!



   We just sort of went thru this for our machine room, trying to share
monitors with 2 suns and 4 PC based systems. In our case we decided it
was too expensive to go the switch route and settled on some Wright Line
desk/shelving. We weren't in a space crunch so we got a unit that would
hold the systems we had and even added a module to rack mount our router
and DSU.

  They make lots of nice stuff for varying needs. If you can't find them
I can look up their number for you. The stuff we got was their LMS system.



We are using a Black Box product to share 1 monitor and 1 keyboard
between up to 4 SPARC 10s/20s/5s. The product is extremely reliable
and simple to setup and use. Black Box's number is 412-746-5500.
I can't say for certain about the SPARC 3s, but give them a call and

Good luck,
Bill Townsley
Systems Engineer III
DAT Services


Back at the ranch, Phil Poole scribed:

<> I am seeking information regarding switch boxes to be used for
<> sharing a monitor between 3 suns.
<> Can anyone recommend a good switch box or relate any
<> experiences they have had with a similar set-up ?

I use one of the ServerSwitch(tm) boxes for my firewall systems. It has
ports for five systems and one monitor/keyboard. The ports are "regular"
13W3 and SUn keyboard miniDIN. I think you can cascade them if you want
to as well.

It keeps a "phantom" keyboard and monitor on each port, so if the server
reboots it still sees a keyboard, even if you're displaying another

I got it from Access Development Corp. in Stamford CT. (800) 228-0796 (FAX)
Cost was about two grand.

Whup! (800) 228-0795 <---- Correct NUMBER

Reto L.


Greetings Phil, what we did on our site was to purchase a terminal
server(8 port) and have a single xterminal be our "superconsole"
for all the suns that we had in a certain area. The suns were
connected to the terminal server through their serial port A and
thus we could do remote maintenance on them without having to
be physically at the console. In addition, the single xterminal
would act as the sole display device for all the suns in that area.

If you need more specifics on how this was done, let me know.

In addition, I think there is a hardware device made by the DCVAST
Inc, which connects multiple machines to a single monitor, here
is the contact info if you need it:
Harold Munson 847.964.6060 DCVAST Inc: Switch config
                                        (head/monitor saver)

The reason, we didn't go this route, was it would have cost about $1500
just for this hardware device.


Apolonio A. Maranion
Motorola LMPS, iDEN Admin

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We use a product from Sun that hooks up (currently) 8 Suns via their serial interfaces to a "concentrator" that in turn connects to the parallel interface of a Sparc 5. The main issues involved include modifying the break signal from the keyboard, setting up window processes for each machine, and setting up the port monitor. I did not set this up myself but can refer you to the person who did if you're interested in taking this route. One advantage that we've used quite a bit is that anything that shows up on the console is also saved in a log file on the Sparc 5, which helps in tracing error messages.

Regards Sameer

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We are using a model NUD4266 - Non-Aborting Kbd/Video Sharing Switch from:

NUDATA 32 Fairview Ave Little Silver, New Jersey 07739 Phone: 908 842 5757 Fax: 908 842 1161

Cost: $695

Can hook up 5 additional cpus (total of 6 ports).

Steve Wagner Org. 9432 Sandia National Labs PO Box 5800 Mail Stop 1138 Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-1138 Phone and Fax: 505 844-2424 email:

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Phil- We use switches that we got from The Lewis Group (908)294-8694. They have switches for PCs, Suns with frame buffers/keyboards, and serial switches for using ttya/b. They have worked out great for us, so give them a call. Steve

-- Steve Scott AT&T (Business Unit Yet To Be Determined) Voice: (908)949-2896 Fax: (908)949-7678 Internal: sgs@mailnet External:

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Ok. Then connect one of them (the one with the Monitor) with one serial Port each to one of the others.

Configure the /etc/remote on the first machine and use "tip". - Eh' voila! :-)

No Network required. And you'll have full "console"-features, like booting from different disks and so on. :-)

This is something we currently use here. We have several "test-machines", all connected via their serial ports to one machine, which is a "terminal-server". You simply need to login there and type "tip *hostname*" to get a real console-connection. Works great for us!

2 hours of work and 2 serial cables should be enough for you. Both other machines don't need keyboards, neither a framebuffer. -> Saves Money. :-)))))



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-- Phil Poole | SUN Unix Administrator | Frederick Biomedical SuperComputing Center (301) 846-5721 | Frederick MD, 21702

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