Summary: RSC Connectivity and Usage

From: Tim Kirby <>
Date: Thu Nov 20 2003 - 16:03:07 EST
In the previous episode, I asked

> With the forthcoming rollout of some additional new Sun equipment
> including some V440's, the question of console connectivity has
> arisen. We appear to have two camps, one of which prefers to keep
> console connectivity through a console server of some description
> using conserver. The other insists that we should just plug in the
> ethernet to the RSC and life will be warm and fuzzy. There is also
> a third camp that favors setting up both connections, of course.
> I would like to poll for accumulated wisdom on the topic; there are
> purported to be good reasons to go both ways, but I could find little
> browsing the web with what seemed like reasonable keywords.

and received 11 responses in total (in the order received, i.e. random)

  Hichael Morton (sic), Geoff Lane, Alex Pothaar, Greg Polanski,
  Mat Wanke, Sonny Baillargeon, John Timon, Andrew Hay,
  William Yodlowsky, Jim Vandevegt and Kevin Buterbaugh

Of this sample, two were fully in the full blown "RSC" camp,
one proposed using the tty directly and ignored the RSC.
The rest were a mixture of connecting both or using the serial
RSC port which sort of gives the best of both worlds, or the worst
depending on your particular leanings.

Relevant issues were

* Security
   The RSC doesn't do encryption, so if you have spent a bunch of time
   turning things like telnet off, the RSC brings cleartext passwords
   right back into the game. Best practice would seem to have an
   isolated management network for RSC ethernet connections and a bastion
   host that supports SSH etc. for access into that management network.

* Complexity concerns
   Conservative is good :) with preferences towards the text/serial
   model, in some cases hooking up ttya *anyway* in case the RSC loses
   its brain, which it has for some people. Most leaned toward using
   the *serial* RSC port connected to a concentrator, the preferred
   vendor appears to be Cyclades.
   The java console tool didn't get much fan mail. Most cite a
   hetrogeneous environment wherein a quality terminal system with
   good software gives a nice consistent feel to the sysadmin.

   A network outage can also take out your console if you only have the
   ethernet model available, which might be a real problem. This may
   be less of an issue depending on how you hook up the serial connectivity.

* Usability
   The console server has generally better usability in terms of
   encryption, authentication, multi-user access.

General preference would seem to be to use the serial RSC with a
Cyclades terminal server for access. If you hook up the ethernet,
make sure it's an isolated network. If you have the spare ports,
hooking up ttya as well for insurance might not be a bad thing :)


Tim Kirby                                       651-605-9074                   Cray Inc. Information Systems
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Received on Thu Nov 20 16:08:23 2003

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