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Pi-KVM - IP KVM using a Raspberry Pi

danb35

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This got a passing mention a couple of months ago in another thread (https://www.truenas.com/community/threads/ezcoo-kvm-switch-with-pikvm.89099/), but it seems like something deserving of its own thread.

For a long time (pretty much as long as I've been around here), we've preached the benefits of IPMI and similar out-of-band server management systems, and indeed it's great to have a virtual console remotely. The problem is that most of them, at least until pretty recent-generation hardware (and we cheap bottom-feeders who rely on used hardware aren't buying that), rely on Java, which is no longer as smooth of an experience as it once was (and I don't know that it was ever as smooth as it was promised to be). Enter Pi-KVM:

Access via browser or VNC, and it looks like you can use legacy IPMI clients as well. Full IP KVM with USB storage support. Looks like you can use a VGA-HDMI adapter for systems with VGA outputs. Looks very slick--especially if I can interface it with my existing KVM so a single one of these units could handle several systems. I haven't played with this yet, but I think I'm going to want to.
 

Newfoundland.Republic

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Jeff from Craft Computing has a video on it. It is the 'purchased' version (hardware and software) but it is cheaper than something from Avocent or Raritan. See https://youtu.be/CyEpshm16HY

It is all open source, so you could build it yourself.

(He does nice beer reviews as well :wink:)
 

danb35

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Watched that video this morning, but no, it isn't Pi-KVM (though it seems like most of the comments on it are recommending Pi-KVM instead of it)--it's a similar, but much more expensive, product, which has important features locked behind a paywall. OTOH, it's available today as a finished product, while Pi-KVM is more DIY until they get the "hat" in production.

Some of the comments on that video are saying that TinyPilot ripped off Pi-KVM, but whether that's talking about literal code copying (which would still be legal), or just taking the idea, I don't know.
 

Newfoundland.Republic

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What would be nice is if (and this maybe done already and I haven't seen it) is to have more than one server connected to the Pi KVM... I always shake my head on the Avocent/Raritan prices for home lab use. (Enterprise, well that is a different matter...)
 

danb35

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to have more than one server connected to the Pi KVM
It appears that Pi-KVM supports this (by way of controlling a separate KVM switch) in a few ways. This video discusses that a bit:

What I'd really like to do is use it to handle a mix of VGA and HDMI systems, but I'm not sure if that would be practical.
 

danb35

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This looks interesting too:

What isn't quite clear to me is whether this allows Pi-KVM to act as a IPMI client (meaning it can connect to, say, the IPMI interface on my FreeNAS box, and then present that iKVM through its own interface), or as a IPMI server (meaning it can be reached using other IPMI software). The latter wouldn't be very useful to me; the former would be very helpful indeed. So given my luck, I'll guess it acts as a server.
 

danb35

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It does in fact have IPMI client options
It seems the only thing it can do via IPMI is control power--and while that's better than nothing, it isn't all that useful for my needs. What would be useful would be something that could take the Java iKVM on my Supermicro and Dell gear, and then present that via HTML5 as the current SM gear does (and as my HPE gear does).

I played with this a bit back when I was posting, but wasn't able to get a video signal with any of the hardware I tried with (at least two converters, at least two Pis, multiple host systems), so it kind of fell by the wayside. Now the hat is out there, but that's a dramatic cost increase.
 

Patrick M. Hausen

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something that could take the Java iKVM on my Supermicro and Dell gear, and then present that via HTML5
Windows VM and Apache Guacamole :wink:
 

danb35

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Windows VM and Apache Guacamole :wink:
Interesting thought. Any particular reason you recommend Windows rather than *nix? And does Guacamole handle the remote media as well?
 

Patrick M. Hausen

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Windows lets you install Supermicro's IPMIview among other things. And RDP to HTML5 via Guacamole has been more pleasant for me than any VNC based option. Apart from pure X11 I have never seen a really good Unix remote desktop. And X11 really needs LAN speed.

Guacamole lets you upload files to the Windows VM that can then be used as remote media with whatever outdated clumsy IPMI solution platform X offers.
 
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