[Gllug] KVM-over-internet

damion.yates at gmail.com damion.yates at gmail.com
Sun Feb 19 00:13:17 UTC 2012

On Mon, 30 Jan 2012, Rich Walker wrote:

> Possibly a slightly odd request, but has anyone seen something that does
> the equivalent of "attach a 3G dongle to a KVM switch"? We occasionally
> want to get access to a remote computer in a random foreign country
> before it has network connectivity, and this seems like the only
> sensible solution...

Back when the BBC used to do live streaming of nature stuff like a
badger's warren, we used to get BT to stick an ISDN line up to various
remote locations* and then send out an isdn router and 1U linux based
encoder to a random remote BBC person (they have local radio presenters
all over the country).  We'd typically leave the video feed down to them
as they normally know what they're doing with that and it was obvious
what to plug into at the back of the encoder.

Normally the box was set to start pinging home at boot and the isdn
router would do dial-on-demand so we'd see entries in the radius log and
be able to ssh in to the encoder, fire off realproducer and play it on
the quite lovely Linux realplayer** to view the streaming feed of some
random part of nature from the UK.

I had a sneaking suspicion on one occasion that it was our fault that
this didn't work, (normally we'd assume ISDN not provisioned properly
yet, or user error in cabling which we could talk through on the phone).
It was likely the configuration on the box was incorrect, especially as
the correct configuration for said remote location was clearly right
there on a box in the office ... Oops we'd sent out a completely
yet-to-be-configured system.

So I asked the BBC guy to plug mouse/keyboard and monitor in.  I found
even with a complete novice, that it was easy to walk him through
logging in, and running the right ifconfig, route and ping to get the
box online.  Then I found we needed to resolve my ability to ssh in

Thankfully due to VI's modal operation I was able to walk him through
editing the passwd, hosts.allow and various other files necessary for
this botched install to be set up for me to ssh in.  My colleagues
watched in awe as I told him to press random letters and was able to
visualise the output of his vi session :)

Once I'd got a shell, I started X11 and a solitaire clone and he was
happy whilst I fixed the rest of the box up at the cmdline 100 miles
away.  True story.

Who needs a KVM ?  :)

 - Damion

*I attended one of these sites once near an airfield, with no public
access it was teeming with rare birds and stuff.  The BT guy had dragged
a cable 100s of metres over wild fields of grass and bramble bushes,
then obviously managed to whip/fling the cable over a stream until he
got it to a single fence post close to where some mains power had been
sourced (probably something to do with the airfield lights).  *jaw drop*
- hats off to the BT engineers and their ISDN provision.  I love how
he'd nailed a standard ISDN white plastic box to the post as if after
all this, it was just like a normal install at the end point :)

**People who hate realmedia, are either tin-foil brigade moaning about
the lack of FREEdom and blissfully unaware of the pain getting rid of
was to lead to (I can explain later), or were using the godawful,
Advert-ridden Windows client, in which case I've no sympathy.
Gllug mailing list  -  Gllug at gllug.org.uk

More information about the GLLUG mailing list