Hall D Console Servers

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In order to be able to access consoles of some of the equipment in the Hall during beam operations we need to have a number of console server. The devices that will need console management include the SBC running ROCs and IOCs, CAEN HV power supplies. Also some of the Linux servers in the counting house will need console management as well. At this point the estimated number of the 32-port units required for Hall D and the counting house is nine units. Hall B developed a framework for accessing these devices using the tsconnect command that allowed to configure and access the consoles of the devices in Hall B. Hall D needs a similar framework to manage all serial consoles in Hall D and the counting house.


Hall B has been using EtherLite32 console servers from Digi during the 6 GeV era. According to Sergey B. these terminal servers were more reliable than more sophisticated Cyclade console servers from Avocent that provided much more functionality. His intentions were to continue purchasing these servers for CLAS12. But it turns out that Digi moved on to a new product line called ConnectPort which can come in a similar to EtherLite32 configuration called ConnectPort LTS 32. This product has the functionality of the old EtherLite32 with addition of more features. Purchasing ConnectPort LTS 32 makes more sense since it is already hard to find unused units of the old series, plus we get more features from it. The price difference between the new units of the two series is on the order of 15%.

We purchased one ConnectPort LTS 32 server for a test-drive. It looks nice and it worked right out of the box, although for some reason the serial ports and the LCD display with the buttons are located on the back of the unit. The unit comes with the mounting brackets and is easy to install into a 19"-rack. The height of the unit seems to be slightly larger than 1U.

The default network configuration was using DHCP, therefore once we got an IP address from the computer center we were able to ping this console server. The web-server was running so we were able to login to the device and configure it. Once needs to have the root-password to be able to configure ConnectPort LTS 32 through the HTTP server. The default password for the root-account is "dbps". We changed it to the default Hall D root-password. The details of the configuration of this device can be found in ConnectPort LTS User's Guide.


The two main ways Hall D can use the ConnectPort devices are:

  1. Connecting to the serial device using telnet or ssh programs using TCP sockets.
  2. Mapping each serial port on ConnectPort to a TTY device file using RealPort driver from Digi.

The main advantage of the first method is that there is no need to install any driver on any of the computer accessing the serial device through the terminal server, one only needs to have telnet or ssh clients, while for the second method one would have to install and maintain the driver on every host which is expected to use the console server. Note that when a particular port is configured to be used with first method one cannot access it using the RealPort driver and vice versa. Hall B uses the method number 2 since it also allows one to easily access the serial port from a user written program.


The terminal servers come with an installation disk. I tried to install the RealPort software from the installation disk on the EL6 server gluon01 by running the setup program on the disk. The setup failed because the version of the software on the disk was not up-to-date. I contacted the customer service about this and here is the exchange:

Date 	Entered By 	Subject
12:45 	Digi Support 	I copied the current files from the ftp location into the location where the RPM 
and TGZ files were (they were copied from the CD), and I ran the installation script, and this time it 
seems to work fine. The executables are built and run. There are no /dev/CU-files in the /dev directory though, 
but I guess these are obsolete.

08:52 	Digi Support 	You want to use our latest driver located here:
NOTE: We do not support 2.6.39 nor 3.x kernels.

If you still have problems. Check kernel rev and provide us typescript:

Basically, I took their ISO-file, got the DIGI directory out of there, copied the most recent RPMs from their web-site into the drivers directory within that DIGI directory and ran the
beesu setup
program. And it worked and installed the kernel module. To configure the ports, one needs to run
beesu dgrp_gui
script which allows to configure the terminal servers. When the ports are connected to the server we should see a bunch of /dev/ttyxxx files where XXX are numbers corresponding to the server and the port. One issue with the RealPort is that when we install the software we actually install a kernel module /lib/modules/2.6.32-279.el6.x86_64/misc/dgrp.ko that is for the kernel that is currently running. When the computer center upgrades the kernel we need to reinstall the RealPort software. First one needs to uninstall the RPM
>sudo rpm -e  grp-1.9-29.x86_64
, and then run the setup script in the modified directory from the distribution disk
beesu ./setup  .
  • We need to specify to computer center to not upgrade kernels on our online cluster to avoid similar problems. We will need to upgrade kernels during downtime.
  • We need to request to exempt these console servers from being security scanned by the computer center. Otherwise, they are pretty much guaranteed to crash (the web server and the RealPort network services crash, ssh and telnet are still available). If the web server and the RealPort crash one can login using ssh and restart these servers by launching Linux shell as root user.