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By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
LinuxCare, http://www.linuxcare.com/

(?) KVM Switches: All are NOT Created Equal

From Michael Slaven on Fri, 24 Dec 1999


Here's the story...

Raritan Computer manufactures bulletproof KVM switches. We have recently begun to get positive feedback from the Linux community because our switches do NOT occasionally allow keyboard/mouse lock-ups like our competitors. We use a dedicated emulation chip for EACH computer connected to the switch.

Unfortunately, most of the public perceives occasional lock-ups as normal for KVM switches and this is definitely not the case.

This said, getting that message out to the Linux community is not easy. I'm interested in:

  1. How you have your office set up ( how many computers)
  2. If you have the need for a KVM switch
  3. If so, I'd be willing to "lend" you one for 30-40 to test and evaluate.

All I would ask in return is that if someone asks you about KVM switches, you at least can tell them that all switches are not created equal.

Let me know what you think.
Thanks for your time.

Michael Slaven
OEM Manager
Raritan Computer Inc. http://www.raritan.com

(!) Well, I don't think I'll be considered a corporate shill for simply including your message as it was written to me.
I'll have to admit that I haven't purchased any Raritans, though I've seen them in some of the offices of my customers, etc. Of course I'm aware that there are differences among different types of KVM switches.
It's always been my opinion that the biggest gain is from using any of the "active" (electronic) switches. Using the mechanical A-B switch boxes will occasionally cause the failure of a chip on your motherboard (effectively meaning you'll have to replace about 1 motherboard in 20 per year of daily use).
Hopefully the future of USB will solve this problem for keyboards and mice (I'm not aware of any problems with mechanical switching of monitors). On the one hand I think USB is overly complicated and expensive. On the other hand, it will will hopefully save future generations of computer users from fussing with the sorts of DTE/DCE, CTS/RTS, DSR/DTR problems that we old fogeys have had to fight with RS-232.

[ I've occasionally seen monitors get weird color effects when switching, but so far, every such case has turned out to be solved when the video cord was reseated or replaced. There hasn't been any evidence that it was somehow any fault of the switch. I've never used a Raritan; most were Belkins and ProTec. -- Heather ]

Anyway, if you put up some white papers and actually describe some of the failure modes (capacititive discharge?) and how your components and designs are better for protecting computers than those used by your competitors, you'll probably gain some more converts. (My personal needs have been too modest --- and Raritan has been too expensive --- for me so far).

Copyright © 2000, James T. Dennis
Published in The Linux Gazette Issue 50 February 2000
HTML transformation by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

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