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Console/KVM servers run Linux

Oct 2, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

Digi International has used embedded Linux in a family of “all-in-one” console servers that, in addition to serial console access, support a variety of secure, IP-based remote graphical user interface protocols, the company says. The Passport is available with 4, 8, 16, 32, or 48 ports, and single or redundant power supplies.

(Click for larger view of Digi Passport)

Digi says that by supporting both console and KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) access, its Passport devices can save considerable cost. The approach appears to resemble that taken by OpenGear, the remote access equipment company founded up by uClinux pioneer Bob Waldie.

However, whereas Opengear's “all-in-one” console/KVM servers are based on okvm and other open source software, Digi's Passport devices appear to use a proprietary FreeKVM application instead.

Digi says FreeKVM lets users securely connect to the graphical user interfaces of network-attached PCs by specifying an IP address and a connection protocol, after first having connected to the Passport device via Ethernet, or via the device's optional internal dial-up modem interface. Supported graphical protocols include VNC (virtual network computer), RDP (remote desktop protocol), and XManager (X Window System).

The Passport devices additionally support IPMI (intelligent platform management interface), an Intel-developed protocol offering many high-level computer management capabilities. And, perl-based scripts enable Passport users to program custom log searches, event notifications, and device management automation functions, Digi says.

Additional touted Passport features include:

  • Supports IPv6
  • USB port and a PC Card slot offer expandability
  • Supports UNIX, Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, and Mac OS X
  • Supports “Special Administrative Console” (SAC) in Windows Server 2003
  • Can eliminate the need for KVM over IP if used with serial console capable hardware
  • Requires less network bandwidth than KVM over IP solutions
  • Not burdened by the mouse synchronization problems of KVM over IP
  • Fewer cables translates to better air flow around data center equipment


The Passport devices are available from several U.S. and European resellers. The 1U devices have dual Ethernet ports, and between 4 and 48 serial ports on RJ-45 connectors. Options include internal modems and dual power supplies. Street prices appear to range from $1,150 to $3,875, depending on options.

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