SUMMARY - wanted, reliable terminal

From: Becker, Mark (
Date: Thu Sep 12 1996 - 17:21:00 CDT

I recently asked

> I am looking for a vendor name and model numbers for very reliable
> for use
> as a Sparc system console. They will be used only to start up systems and
> maybe a little vi'ing. Cost is way secondary.
Responses were rapidly received and greatly appreciated. Key parts follow
and are more informative than this summary.

The basic recommendation was to use a Dec Vtxxx if one chooses to use a
A Summary on this list by Steve Swaney back in Jan 94 claims that VT-200
do not send a break on power down., but I m wondering what happens if the
cable is unplugged. Steve s note lead me to Nudata 908.842.5757,
800.844.5757, salesperson Brenda X 20952, who sell model 4269 Non-Aborting
Serial Console Switch, that allows up to 5 sparcs to be controlled by a
single RS-232 terminal, price ~ $700 for a manual switch unit.

A cleaner suggestion is to use a multiport serial card in a Sparc; read the
following for more info.

For those of you who want to build a cable that will disable break, Hal
Stern created
a very useful document some time back that has a diagram. If you want one
and can view/print postscript files, send me an e-mail and I will send a

Thanks again to all who responded so quickly,
Mark Becker

From: Martin Espinoza

I like Ampex.
Martin Espinoza Systems Administrator

From: Ed Romascan

Consider one of our SBus serial port boards in one of your Suns. Using
Openwindows or Motif tip to each of the server's ttya ports and you're
there. Several of our boards do not cause breaks on power-off/power-on and
tip requires a ~# to create one - an unlikely accident.

See our web page at I would recommend either the 4DMA Sp or
16 Sp, which are the boards which do not cause breaks on power off/on.

Ed Romascan email:
MAGMA Tel: (619) 457-0750
6725 Mesa Ridge Road #100, Fax: (619) 457-0798
San Diego, CA 92121 Web:

From: Jim Ausman

This is an odd suggestion, but I recommend a used vt100 or vt102 as
a console. Anything that has survived the decade or so that one of
these would have to be is reliable. And the vt100 protocol is so
standard that every program knows what to do with it. I have a vt102
that I use in my machine room as a last ditch console and am very
happy with it. The first choice around here is a laptop, but sometimes
getting kermit just so takes some doing.

Jim Ausman
Systems Administrator

From: Gene Rackow

Why do you want to use a terminal? Why not replace all the serial consoles
with a small terminal server or serial port expander on an existing
machine. This way you can get to the console from somewhere other than
sitting in front of the machine. This is extremely useful to be able to
do. We went from having a room full of screens to having 1 screen that
controls the console server machine, and a terminal server where the ports
are wired out to all the other machines. Now when a problem occurs in the
machine room, I just do a "console downmachine" and I'm now at that
machines console. The other major advantage is that I now have a full
of every error message and input that has gone on at the console. No more
wondering exactly what a boot sequence looked like. It's recorded.

The software we use to do this is available via ftp from in /pub/systems/conserver-5.11.anl.tar.Z

   Gene Rackow email:
   Math & Computer Science voice: 630-252-7126
   Argonne National Lab FAX: 630-252-5986
   9700 S. Cass Ave. / Argonne, IL 60439

From: blymn

We have quite a lot of DEC vt series terminals. I know of only a
couple that have died (out of around 50) over the past 7 or so years.
Brett Lymn, Computer Systems Administrator, AWA Defence Industries

From: Xu, Guo Miao (Hui, Kwok Miu)

You may try to use 'dec' terminal such as 'VT520', 'VT420'.

We use them for console very well.
Komix Hui

From: sweh

I used to use VT320's or Wyse85 terminals for this purpose. One failed on
me over a 5 year period (because of a power failure!). If your power is
slightly bad, then smooth it (and UPS?) - this makes terminals last longer.
From: John Stoffel

I've always found DECs terminals to be very reliable and very good.
The vt220 was a very nice series but probably not made any more. Look
for a vt420 or 520 nowdays.

From: Truong, Phi H

Have you try using the conserver package from purdue and ohio state? We
the conserver package from Purdue, built on a Sparc 10 with Solaris 2.5.1,
attached a couple of serial/parallel expansion cards, used null modem
(RJ45-to-DB25), and voila we have a console server that served a dozen
machines. We tested the hardware setup by unplug/plug/power-down
result: no client machines got reboot. We fixed a bug in the conserver
which allowed us to halt the machine down to console prompt.

Phi H. Truong "some cool quote goes here!" Norwest Mortgage Inc., TSM
From: Daniel Beaudry

any VT100, 220, ... terminal will do the job. In fact, there is a way to
build the RS/232 cable in such
a way, the sun will not hang if the cable is disconnected or the terminal
goes creasy. But I don't know
how to make this cable. I think it is by looping DTR and RTS togetther.

BTW, if you discover how to make this special cable, tell me.

From: gmp

Do you need to see the console all of the time?

I advocate a terminal server, such as a Xylogics Annex III.
Null-modem cable this to the SPARCs.

You can access the consoles via one or more TTYs on the
annex or via telnet from the network.

We like to put the headless SPARCs in a computer room, connect them
to the annex, and put a modem on the annex. Normally, we access
the consoles via telnet through the net. If the net is down, we
can use the modem remotely.

If you need a display system, buy an inexpensive workstation.
Start an xterm for each console and simply telnet to the annex port
to see the console traffic.


Greg Polanski

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