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Re: Logging in screen

From: jan
Subject: Re: Logging in screen
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2007 09:12:50 +0000
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20070507)

Thanks to Thomas Köhler, Dan Mahoney and Jan Thomas Moldung! You've all given me some good ideas. Maybe I should explain in more detail what it is I am working on.

I am the system manager for a growing number of UNIX servers, and instead of having ever more terminals in the serverroom, I want to connect them to jjust one PC - I have got a number of USB to serial adapters (28 at the moment) and some USB hubs, and I have installed Gentoo Linux on the PC - so far, so good.

One problem I find I have with USB is that you can't predict which logical port will correspond to which physical port. To work around that I have changed the login prompts (as well as the command line prompts) to ensure that they display the hostname; this is why I want to capture the output from minicom when it initialises. I do this by sending a couple of \n, which should make the server at the other end reply with a login prompt (or command line prompt if it has been left logged in).

I use the servername to correlate the screen sessions with actual servernames and present it in a nice menu in a script (which I call 'conman', incidentally). I could of course just use screen's commands directly, but this is not a traditional UNIX site in that we run development exclusively on these servers. We feel we have less need for security, and more need for allowing users (ie programmers) to restart the servers if they have managed to screw things up badly enough. Unfortunately they are not UNIX experts - they can follow the instructions I have published for what to do in emergencies, but they don't know a lot about the deeper levels of administration. So they will, on occasion, need to access the consoles, and it has to be easy.

I have opted for a TTY only approach because I quite often work from home over a VPN, and I have tried X over that line - I don't want to struggle with bandwidth issues, so it is text only.

I'm not if conserver can meet my needs - I think I looked at it some years ago and decided that wouldn't give me what I needed, but maybe I should try again.


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