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Old 10-02-2006, 08:47 PM   #1
WorldBuilder
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Not really linux related, but what about a laptop used as a KVM?


Hi all,

I have a rather odd question. I have two servers (well, one right now, adding another). And I have a cheap, older KVM switch. But I don't have a spare monitor lying around (not that I'd want a CRT in my rack anyway). Now, I could go buy a cheap LCD, but even that's too expensive for my tastes. What I DO have is an older laptop. So...

What I was wondering is if there is any way to use this old laptop as a KVM switch? I mean, it obviously has a display, keyboard, and "mouse". So assuming there was some kind of software available (preferably open source/freeware) as well as a video splitter of some kind, I don't see why this wouldn't be possible.

Is it, and if so, how would I do this?

Thanks!

Chris
 
Old 10-02-2006, 11:45 PM   #2
jantman
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You CAN use another computer, like a laptop. Do you want a GUI?

If not, you can just SSH into the machines. If so, you have to forward X Windows and allow Remote X Login.

That being said, this will only work if your network interface is up, SSHd is running, and the system is stable.

Another option for using a laptop is to use a serial console. There is a great HOWTO Here. However, this requires your server machine to have the capability (usually in the BIOS) to allow a serial console as the system console (tty0). With a server (purpose-built, like a Dell or Compaq/HP) that shouldn't be a problem, but it might be with a machine that began life as a regular desktop box.

But... why do you want to do this? All of these options are less-than-ideal, and require the server to be up and running correctly - they have many more possibilities for situations where you wouldn't be able to gain access to the box than, say, a good old KVM setup.

I don't know what your budget and space requirements are, but I bought a managed, 8-port KVM with scanning, server naming, hotkeys, the whole 10 yards for abour $50 on ebay. I bought a 21" CRT, keyboard, and mouse for $10 from a University's surplus store.
 
Old 10-03-2006, 08:19 AM   #3
WorldBuilder
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I understand what you mean. That's why I don't want to use PuTTY, because there's many times when it wouldn't work. My main problem is space, though. A CRT is cheap as hell, yes (I could even get one for free), but who wants a bulky CRT in a 19" rack?!

Basically, I just wanted to be able to use my laptop because it's small and already in the rack (although it can be removed). I think I'll have to bite the bullet and get a real setup...

Thanks.

Chris
 
Old 10-03-2006, 10:37 AM   #4
jantman
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To put it simply (and painfully) the smaller you want something, the more you pay.

If you have $1000 or so (probably half that on Ebay) you can buy a pull-out 1U drawer with a keyboard and mouse, and a fold-up LCD.

Do you really have so much stuff in the rack that you can't put a CRT in?

If so, how about finding a cheap LCD? You can get a 15" at TigerDirect.com for $90 (used, off lease). That could be mounted to a rack drawer, or mounted on an arm off of the rack.
 
  


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