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Consoles on PCs...

David Harris zonker@certaintysolutions.com
Wed, 22 May 2002 12:03:22 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, May 22, 2002 at 02:26:45PM -0400, Ernie Oporto wrote:
>    . . . .    If only Linux PCs had
> some sort of way to interface a serial port like a Sun sparc system to be
> able to use conserver.  I know they have console echoing on a serial port,
> but it's not the same as doing a break sequence to drop to the EEPROM.

  Some of you probably already know about the PC Weasel products, 
but I'm betting it's still one of Canada's best kept secrets. ;-)


  The idea is an add-in card, which appears to the system as a simple
video card, but the output is really to a DB-9 serial port. As the
system boots, and sends data to the (vidoe) 'console', the text is
captured, and redirected to the serial port on the Weasel card.
Once the OS starts up, if it wants to take over a serial port as
a serial console, the Weasel card binds the port on the card to
that interface...so, one serial port on the PC (on the Weasel
card) provides both P.O.S.T. data, as well as providing a serial
console to the O.S.

  But wait, there's more! (Now how much would you pay? ;-)

  You also have an ability to send a control sequence to the
Weasel card, and control things like momentarily triggering the
reset line on the CPU, and even controlling the 'soft-power' 
control lines to 'bounce' (off-and-on) the power suppply, or
to simply shut it down.

  AND, you have an option to connect a short cable from the
Weasel card to the keyboard jack on the CPU, so you can access
the ROMs at start-up, respond to key-presses during start-up,
or perform other interactions (recovering from a HALT, etc.)

  I like these things a lot! The PCI version has been available
for about a year. If you have PC servers that don't have console
redirection (or they have limited redirection), try a Weasel
card, and see what you think. If you have 'smart' NICs and Drive 
controllers (which write directly to the video screen, versus
reporting to the BIOS for redirection), the Weasel card is a win!

      -Z-     http://www.conserver.com/consoles/