Console Server

The console server is software which can be run on a UNIX box with lots of serial ports. You plug consoles of other machines into the serial ports, and the software allows you to access these consoles from anywhere on the network. The feel is as if the console is right in front of you. In addition, the software does logging of all of the console lines. For security, a password is required to connect to a console. Consoles can have multiple connections, although only one connection will be able to type, the others will be read-only (and it is possible to take over someone else's connection). Multiple processes act as servers, so performance can be tuned by distributing consoles across processes.

The original distribution that I released may continue to be available for anonymous ftp at archive.cis.ohio-state.edu:/pub/console-server/console-server.1.1.shar - please let me know if it disappears, and it is also available on the web.

People often ask if it has been ported to Solaris. Yes, but not by me. I do not actively maintain software, but am willing to do informal cruft accumulation here. :-). Some new stuff, including Solaris and DEC ports, and terminal server support, are available here too.

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The Purdue Version and some history

A long time ago, in an OSU department far far away (this one, which is not where I work now), I wrote a console server for my boss, Steve Romig. We thought it was neat so we presented a paper at LISA IV, in Colorado Springs, in 1990. At the time we couldn't find any precedents.

Purdue took our copy of the console server and "ran with it" (made many more modifications and provided more support). They claimed it was their own, and they had originated it. Oops.

It turns out that when we wrote ours, Purdue already had one, although I believe it was written for mainframes, not UNIX boxes. They thought that our code was based on that, but it wasn't because we weren't aware of it. So Purdue did write the first one (that I'm aware of), but the one they've made popular is actually a descendant of our code.

No blood, no foul.

Kevin Braunsdorf (ksb@sa.fedex.com) is still updating the Purdue software (kind of unofficially, I think). Some of the recent versions are conserver-7.4.tgz, conserver-8.3d.tgz, and conserver-8.4.tgz.

An older version of Purdue's software is available on UUnet.

Other Console Server Info


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