SUMMARY: KVM switches for Sun hardware

From: Bruce Shaw <>
Date: Thu Jun 02 2005 - 12:11:00 EDT
> Can anyone recommend an affordable KVM switch using CAT5 
> technology and appropriate video cards that will work with 
> [a] mixture of Sun hardware?

> Yesterday I tried an Avocent Autoview 2000 with poor results.  I 
> never did get anything to display ...

I got a number of replies from a number of sources on a number of issues so
I'll attempt to summarize.

1.  I eventually (with hints from Avocent and Ed Arledge) got the Avocent
2000 sort of working.  The key was to always have something hooked up that
you know works - in my case, my desktop PC.  The problem is that the Avocent
only displays certain resolutions and apparently 1152 x 992 x 67 (hz) isn't
one of them.  It tries really hard but the screen goes completely blank,
hence you can't see what you're doing.  By having a working system
installed, you need merely press [Print Screen][cursor-down][Enter] to
switch ports and you're back in business.  Then you need merely experiment
with getting the frame buffer to come up in a resolution that the Avocent
2000 can cope with.

With the E450's with the GFX8P card one merely needs to do the following:

#cd /usr/platform/sun4u/sbin
#eeprom output-device=screen:r1024x768x70

then reboot and it comes up nicely.

I haven't gotten the cgsix cards working correctly yet, but Sun has a
document here:

that appears to describe the process.

The manual for the avocent 2000R is an improvement and is available here: (click Hardware
Manual in the left sidebar).  I haven't been able to get the keystroke
emulation working correctly so the keystrokes may be different.  Hopefully
Avocent can come up with something.

2.  Many people (Jeff R. Marble, Charles Klement, Martin Codyre, Thomas M.
Payerle, another Thomas, Andrew Hall, Dan H. Musil, Koef, Colin Bigam, Scott
Lawson, Rich Teer, Helmut Kreft, Wesley W. Garland) suggested console
controllers/servers or serial cards (eg. Digi boards) instead of KVM
switches.  In a perfect world they may have a point.  I, however, live in
less than a perfect world - I have power problems that result in really
messy crashes.  Yes, I have a UPS - the UPS is the problem.  No, I don't
want to talk about it.  Suffice it to say that afterwards I've got multiple
servers with multiple partitions that fsck hates and says so after
attempting mountall.  The problem is, if I'm not looking at the serial
console (eg. VT100) at the exact moment this little gem of information
displays, I miss it, so I've got multiple machines that won't boot and no
way of finding out why.  I'm led to believe that at least some of these
console controllers have buffering, perhaps allowing me to see this "lost"
information.  Regardless, that's not my only problem.

In a perfect world, everybody would use the CLI or be good at managing
multiple X sessions from one console.  Unfortunately I live in the real
world (or some delusional variant of it) and I've got people who are heavily
reliant upon the GUIs for Solstice Disksuite, Legato and Admintool just to
name a few.  Management wants frame buffers.  Management has money.  Who am
I to argue?

3.  Several people (Matt Ungaro, Matt Murdock,  "UnixAdmin", David
Livingston, David Foster, Ric Anderson, "paul" ) suggested other
manufacturers, particularly Raritan, Cyclades, Minicom and Rose.  If I can't
get the Avocent 2000 working to my satisfaction that's probably where I'll
look next.  Sridhar Vaka also suggested Avocent CPS switches.

Thanks to everybody who replied, even if I didn't mention you specifically.
I still looked at your information regardless.

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Received on Thu Jun 2 12:11:38 2005

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