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An alternative to IP KVM

June 17, 2012

Let me begin this post by saying that I have never used or even seen the piece of equipment I am about to discuss.

So why discuss it then? Well, maybe you have been looking for exactly the same thing and maybe this post will point you in the right direction.  Alternatively, maybe you work for the company who makes them and you might be so impressed with this post that you send me one “to review” for free.

That’s right folks, I have no shame.  If there is any chance of me getting anything for free I will happily plug any product on this blog.  Now as to whether the three people who currently read this blog will buy your product I really cannot say. But my view is you should send me free stuff anyway, because one day this blog might go multi-platinum and you really don’t want to be the IT equivalent of the record company that didn’t sign The Beatles, do you?

So what I am talking about here is an alternative to an expensive IP KVM switch.  The problem I have (well one of anyway) is that I had to get rid of my beloved man cave when Chris’s Blog Jnr came along.  Mr’s Chris’s Blog said he would need a bedroom and that the cupboard under the stairs wasn’t good enough.

So my lovely John Lewis desk and matching printer trolley cabinet, swivel chair and various other bits and pieces had to go the way of eBay; being replaced with a cot, feeding chair, wardrobe and enough Winnie The Pooh stickers to stretch to the moon and back.

So what remains of the man cave now sits in the corner of the living room.  This is my “lab” where I test out my software and study for exams etc.  At the moment it consists of two HP ML110 servers (running ESXi 5), an old Shuttle PC, a Synology DS410 NAS and a Cisco (Linksys) SLM2008 gigabit switch.

My problem is that I sold off my monitor with all of my man cave stuff as there really was nowhere to put it.  Because I run VMware on the servers I rarely have to see the console of the server but when I do it means moving the portable TV from the bedroom into the living room and using that as a monitor. This is a real hassle, especially if Mrs Chris’s Blog is trying to watch Desperate Housewife’s at the time.

I have considered buying an IP KVM and have searched high and low for something affordable.  Unfortunately these types of products are considered “data centre” which means manufacturers can make something for a few quid and then stick a price tag of a thousand pounds on the finished (in a factory in China) article.

So my plan B was to find something that would allow me to use my laptop monitor as just a plain old monitor, taking a signal from another source (such as my shuttle or HP servers).  After writing off some ludicrous solutions involving video capture USB devices and god knows what else I came across this:

This, my friends is a StarTech Crash Cart Adapter.  It takes the VGA (sorry no DVA) output of your server and pumps it into a window on you PC via the supplied software (sorry this is Windows only software, not MAC).  Sounds great!  The only possible down side is they cost £300 and my son needs a new pair of shoes what seems like every other week, so I can’t see me getting one until he has graduated university and is paying his own way in life.

In the mean time, if you work for StarTech do you think you could send me one for free?  I can promise you a favourable write up….



From → Data Centre, Gadgets

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