[Gllug] KVM-over-internet

damion.yates at gmail.com damion.yates at gmail.com
Sat Feb 18 23:06:30 UTC 2012

On Tue, 31 Jan 2012, Rich Walker wrote:

> John Hearns <hearnsj at googlemail.com> writes:
> > On 31/01/2012, John Edwards <john at cornerstonelinux.co.uk> wrote:
> >> They were called PC Weasels and were rather ugly hacks:
> >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PC_Weasel_2000> http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/4557>
> > That's the chappie!
> > They were briefly trialled at CERN, as I recall.

I think I have one somewhere, we never got round to testing it at the
beeb.  Mainly due to the fact that the initially horrifically unreliable
ipmi/drac and other not-as-good-as-a-sun-with-OpenBootProm+lom,
solutions the PC manufacturers were spewing up at us, started to get a
bit more reliable as time went by.  Also we only had the ISA one and
that was pretty useless.  I did plan to give it a go one day though.

We also started to have more people on-site.  The Internet operations
department at the beeb was a complete Sun shop (I guess you'd say an
Oracle shop how :( erg).  But we started to have to use a load of i386
devices for various reasons (realmedia video encoding).

Early (c199x) servers would barely netboot properly via pxe, let alone
allow remote access to a BIOS, pitiful if you were used to Suns.  Then
came some serial BIOS support, it would often fail to remember to stick
to 9600,8n1, fail to work at all without cold restart and was a
laughable direct text UI of bios squirted down serial rather than
something simple like OBP.  Wtf was wrong with something like a cmdline
with, for example: "set bootorder=net,disk" ?  Instead we had to try and
would out wft F2 was over vt220, and hope cursors would work, while
waiting for overly complex full screens to render over serial.

However coupled with a remote power controller and a pxe service, PC's
were getting to be where Suns were 10years before ;)

Then came IPMI and Dell's DRAC.  These we found terribly unreliable.
The card attached to the server, to implement this, would lock up.  So
although you were supposed to have the ability to repower, you really
needed remote power control, in which case serial bios and remote power
was already fine.

Some firmware/new hardware years later and it was starting to come
together.  Good ipmi implementations permitted power control, checking
h/ware details like fan speed/temp etc.  You could redirect the bios
over serial or network, although it was still lame you have to find F2
or similar to get a booting box during bios to select to boot from net.

Anyway enough nostalgic rambling from me!

 - Damion
Gllug mailing list  -  Gllug at gllug.org.uk

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