Smirk is preparing to set up a network presence in Charlotte, North Carolina and this week I have to configure a router, a management server and some managed power strips. To help manage some of the equipment (like the router and managed power strips) Smirk purchased a terminal server.
Now, when I hear the term “terminal server” I picture in my mind a small box like device with one network port on one side, and a bunch of serial ports on the other side. A person can then log into the “terminal server” from the network and access any serial device hooked up to it. Conversely, someone can use a serial device to access the network. Sure, there might be some configuration settings to be made on the “terminal server” but pretty much, you plug devices into it, and that's that.
The unit Smirk got, however, resembles a “terminal server” in that yes, it has a network port on one side, and a bunch of serial ports on the other side (said serial ports being RJ45 with their own special wiring—fortunately the manual came with wiring diagrams but I was stuck talking to the device with some scissors, a bit of wire and a paper clip, but I digress) but there any simularity ends.
The thing comes with drivers.
As in, to use this external network based device I need to install special device drivers on my workstation before I can use it. For Linux, that involved installing the Linux kernel sources (which was a major project in and of itself no thanks to the package manager
yum) and compiling the driver (which was a major project in and of itself no thanks to the incompatibilities of various versions of RPM), realize that yes indeed, it is a Linux kernel module which promptly caused my machine to die on the spot.
The computer didn't freeze. It didn't kernel panic. The screen went black and that's all she wrote.
Upon reading further, this “terminal server” uses this “driver” to make the serial ports appear as if they were physically part of the computer, which is not like any “terminal server” I ever had to deal with. Smirk is sending the unit back as it's not what we want.
So instead, I'm bringing the terminal server I have and using that.
Doesn't everybody have an old terminal server they aren't using anymore?
Okay, maybe Mark …