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Author Topic: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...  (Read 3647 times)

barney

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Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« on: November 24, 2010, 11:39:43 PM »
I've been working with Maxi-Vi$ta, Input director, Synergy+.  None of them work as advertised when it comes to controlling multiple satellite systems.

However, that is not the problem.  The problem is that none of them load on boot.  Does anyone know of a software KVM that really loads on boot?

A KVM is useless if you have to have a separate or hardware alternative, no?  I seek a software solution that loads after the BIOS read, or after the OS loads, but before there's any requirement to log in.  After all, I can't log in if the system doesn't recognize the keyboard, can I?

Any suggestions?

40hz

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2010, 08:20:43 AM »
I think what you're asking for is a physical impossibility barring hardware mods to the motherboard; and a major rewrite to the BIOS or operating system. Most likely it will require all three.

And since allowing a console redirect prior to OS load would also introduce significant security concerns, I wouldn't expect those rewrites any time soon.

The SplashTop "instant-on" technology might be able to be modified to do what you want. But it would have to be done on the "manufacturer level." And it wouldn't be a universal solution. SplashTop only works on specific motherboards, so it's not something that can be added to a system after the fact.

Good luck with your search.  :)






« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 08:22:32 AM by 40hz »

cmpm

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2010, 08:36:42 AM »
As far as loading at boot, most programs I have loading at log in-
Even if that option is in the program to 'start with windows'.
I uncheck that and put a shortcut in the start folder.
Including Synergy.
Seems to work better for me anyway.
The loading sequence seems to run much smoother.

That may help...or not.

Bamse

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2010, 08:43:02 AM »
If you can settle for being able to log in to user account new Synergy project http://synergy-foss.org/ and Input Director http://www.inputdirector.com/ works. Must be set up correctly, for Synergy I think it is called "installed as a service", for Director http://www.inputdire...tor.com/faq.html#3_4

In case you don't know new Synergy try it out. No more stupid 100% left of middle config mess and has drag&drop setup of monitors, like in Input Director :) Under Edit, click Services for installation on both client and Server. Also under Edit click Settings and tick "Automatically start server or client when GUI starts". Then it should work. I use 1.4.1 beta for Windows.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2010, 09:04:00 AM by Bamse »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2010, 09:22:03 AM »
I think what you're asking for is a physical impossibility barring hardware mods to the motherboard; and a major rewrite to the BIOS or operating system. Most likely it will require all three.

That would be my assessment also. If access to BIOS settings is needed then hardware KVM is answer. If only access to login screens is needed, then some flavor of RDP/VNC is answer.

Unless he's using some highend server hardware which has embeded console redirect options.

barney

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2010, 04:29:40 PM »
Actually, there's nothing surprising in those responses ... didn't much think I'd find a solution, but felt honor bound to ask.  One of my students, with severe space limitations, asked if it was possible.  Told her I didn't think so, but would check with a few experts  ;).

I'm thinkin' this might be doable by modding the Linux kernel, but it would need cabled machines - wireless would be way too insecure - and I just don't have the skills to even approach the problem  :o.

Oh, well, she'll just have to make do with what she's got.  Thanks, folk.

steeladept

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2010, 04:24:18 PM »
I tend to disagree, though I don't think the solution exists yet in any satisfactory form.  I can think of two solutions - one easy, but very insecure, and one much more difficult - requiring a lot of scripting and maybe full out programming.

The easy route would be to use some sort of autologin at startup and then startup the kvm software at  startup.  This has several distinct disadvantages and is a huge security issue, but would allow you to login to it as requested.

The more difficult route would be to use a hypervisor such as ESXi and use their API to roll some sort of script that would start the program outside the actual machine itself.  If remote access control is an option (instead of using a software KVM) then the control panels that come with the hypervisor should allow ready access independent of any KVM software.  However, that is a very different use case and may not be a good fit for your purposes.  Still, it is something to consider.

40hz

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2010, 04:51:20 PM »
@Steel Unless I misunderstood, I think what barney's looking for is a KVM solution that becomes active at boot but prior to the OS IPL. In short, something that works out-of-band exactly like a hardware KVM - but implemented fully in software.

If that's what he's looking for, it's an impossibility with what ships as your basic PC. The only way I know to do that is with some hardware hocus-pocus, either in the form of a 'remote console' card (mentioned earlier by SJ and usually only found in servers) or via a mobo specifically designed for it like some of the old-style high-end workstations that had heavy duty 'remote management' features built in. Both are pretty rare and not something that ships as your standard Dell or HP desk box.
 :)

steeladept

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2010, 05:33:55 PM »
That is what I understood too.  The first idea was more of a work around.  All I could think of for the reason to have it before the OS starts is for the login.  Maybe I missed something there though.  That is why I looked at the second idea.  When you start a machine with a hypervisor on it, it just starts as it is told.  There is no OS's that boot or anything, unless it is told to do so via a script.  If that script started the KVM software, then you could use that to spin up the VM with OS you want on it.  Kind of a pain if you ask me, with very little payback, but it seems doable to me.  Of course this is theoretical.  I don't use software KVMs.... 

40hz

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2010, 05:51:13 PM »
It would be interesting to see a hypervisor solution even if it would be more trouble than its worth wouldn't it?

I'm with you on "soft" KVM. Gave up ages ago and just went with Raritan boxes to be done with it. If it can't be handled by a local KVM switch or remote desktop/shell I've learned it's easier and faster to just take a little walk over to the 'whatever' and plug in a keyboard.

 ;D
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 05:53:44 PM by 40hz »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2010, 06:39:55 PM »
If it can't be handled by a local KVM switch or remote desktop/shell I've learned it's easier and faster to just take a little walk over to the 'whatever' and plug in a keyboard.

Amen to that!

:)

Renegade

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2010, 11:03:49 PM »
I think you should look into IPMI.

That will do exactly what you're looking for. I do not believe that it is pure software though. However, at some point you need to make some compromises. A pure software implementation is kind of nonsense because how would you possibly run the software if you are looking to get at the machine prior to any software being loaded? At some point you must have hardware involved, even if the software is running directly off of the hardware.

IPMI works very well. You have hardware access remotely. You can then install an operating system or whatever.

Also, have a look at the Intel IMPI site here:

http://www.intel.com...rvers/ipmi/index.htm

I don't know a lot about it. I really only use IPMI. But I hope that helps out anyways.
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barney

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2010, 12:51:56 AM »
Renegade,

'Twould seem, sir, that you have provided a possible answer for a young lady that I would dearly love to help – if I can ever figure out how to use it.  Did a quick scan of the link you provided and suspect that I am going to need to do a lot more reading.  I may hate you in the morning  ;D.  I dislike having to work for my answers, but thanks anyway, this does hold promise  :Thmbsup:.

Renegade

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Re: Seeking a truly functional software KVM ...
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2010, 01:58:39 AM »
Ask your hosting company if they have IPMI. I use it with Softlayer, and I know others use it as well. They will likely have specific software for you to use to connect to the server.

If you're doing this on your own, I'd say go look at the hardware specs for what you have and see if it supports IPMI.

Now, that's where I don't really know much... and my ignorance will show at this point...

I would guess that it's in the main board, so start there. See if anyone else might know more. A few searches should help sort things better for you.

Sorry that I can't be of much more help.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker