Terminal Servers, Good/Bad/Ugly?

Terminal Servers, Good/Bad/Ugly?

Post by Jim Kimb » Fri, 09 Dec 1994 07:44:59



I'm starting the process of evaluating async terminal servers that will
be attached to our Solaris-based SPARCstations, and I wanted to query the
net.at.large for any recommendations, warnings or * caveats/features.

I'll be using the async ports to drive external devices rather than using
them for login sessions per se, so if there's anything more suited for that
type of environment I would greatly appreciate a pointer!

I've heard Good Things about the Livingston boxes, especially when used in
conjunction with Sun hardware (because of the admintool interface?).  Does
anyone have any positive or negitive feelings about this or any other
particular brand?

Use private e-mail if you want to be purely subjective;  I've never been
accused of political correctness so rants, raves and well-chosen words
about a vendor won't be passed beyond my mailbox (and certainly not without
your explicit permission) -- I'm just trying to determine ease/difficulty in:

     1. initial set-up               (a relatively minor influence...i hope)
     2. programatic use of the device's ports              (major influence)
     3. on-going support of the devices and ports          (major influence)

Please post or send e-mail;  I'll summarize for any interested parties and
The Net (really, I will!).

Much thanks in advance,

---

Yet Another UNIX Contractor                 "I neither work nor speak for KLA."

"ALPO is 99 cents a can... that's almost SEVEN dog dollars!!"

 
 
 

Terminal Servers, Good/Bad/Ugly?

Post by Morry Ka » Wed, 14 Dec 1994 04:31:56



> I'm starting the process of evaluating async terminal servers that will
> be attached to our Solaris-based SPARCstations, and I wanted to query the
> net.at.large for any recommendations, warnings or * caveats/features.

> I'll be using the async ports to drive external devices rather than using
> them for login sessions per se, so if there's anything more suited for that
> type of environment I would greatly appreciate a pointer!

> I've heard Good Things about the Livingston boxes, especially when used in
> conjunction with Sun hardware (because of the admintool interface?).  Does
> anyone have any positive or negitive feelings about this or any other
> particular brand?

> Use private e-mail if you want to be purely subjective;  I've never been
> accused of political correctness so rants, raves and well-chosen words
> about a vendor won't be passed beyond my mailbox (and certainly not without
> your explicit permission) -- I'm just trying to determine ease/difficulty in:

>      1. initial set-up               (a relatively minor influence...i hope)
>      2. programatic use of the device's ports              (major influence)
>      3. on-going support of the devices and ports          (major influence)

We bought a Portmaster about 6 months ago.  I found the manuals to be
quite poor.  I have never been completely able to figure out how to
make their filters work correctly.  This would not be such a terrible
problem if their tech support were more responsive.  Each call to tech
support took us roughly 3 days to get returned.  I finally got the
person in charge of tech support to help me.  He sent me some new, as
yet unrealeased manuals.  They are much better than the old ones, but
I still have been unable to get the box to do everything I wanted.
Basically, I have just given up because things are working well enough
and it isn't worth any more time investment.

The bottom line is that the hardware seems to be good.  The desired
software capabilities are there.  The X windows based configuration
interface is great.  I just wish I could figure out how the thing
really works so I could get the last 10% of the functionality we want.
--
------------------------------------------------------
Morry Katz
Rockwell Science Center


(415)723-9427 (office)
(415)694-9121 (beeper)
------------------------------------------------------

 
 
 

Terminal Servers, Good/Bad/Ugly?

Post by Brian Ri » Wed, 14 Dec 1994 15:59:44




|> >
|> > I'm starting the process of evaluating async terminal servers that will
|> > be attached to our Solaris-based SPARCstations, and I wanted to query the
|> > net.at.large for any recommendations, warnings or * caveats/features.

First let me state for the record that under Solaris the Host Device Emulation
feature of the PortMaster is not usable with printers.  It's not clear whether
this is a problem with 2.4 or with the pseudo-device emulation in this release.
Under all releases prior to 2.4 the Host Device emulation was broken because
of the way STREAMS modules are pushed and/or popped off the device in question.
As of 2.4, outbound modems appear to work properly but it's still not resolved
that printers (especially PostScript) will provide expected results.

|> > I'll be using the async ports to drive external devices rather than using
|> > them for login sessions per se, so if there's anything more suited for that
|> > type of environment I would greatly appreciate a pointer!

It'd be much more useful to know what type of devices you're talking about
but if you're talking network devices there isn't a box designed more toward
that end than the PortMaster.

|> >
|> > I've heard Good Things about the Livingston boxes, especially when used in
|> > conjunction with Sun hardware (because of the admintool interface?).  Does
|> > anyone have any positive or negitive feelings about this or any other
|> > particular brand?

The admintool interface is a piece of crap.  Always has been, always will be.
And who really cares?  Do you really need an X-based app to point and click
your way through adding a user?  Man, admintool pisses me off because it's
never worked right and the tasks it actually performs are so trivial (even to
a non-unix type) that it's embarrasing a unix vendor ever presented it.  I'm
more pissed about admintool than I am about Sun's silly move to SVR4.  And
that, my friends, is PISSED.  4.1.3_U1 was golden.  Read it and weep.

|> > Use private e-mail if you want to be purely subjective;  I've never been

Me? Private conversation?   Nah, wrong guy. :-)

|> > accused of political correctness so rants, raves and well-chosen words
|> > about a vendor won't be passed beyond my mailbox (and certainly not without

The *only* other box I ever tried to set up in this fashion was the Xylogics
and (while I admit this was 3+ years ago) it seemed one had to be a Comm
expert before you could even begin to understand what they wanted you to
type into that file it booted from ... and oh, damn, I typoed something, go
power cycle the box ... and oh REALLY damn, I put something stupid in the
bootfile so I'm screwed.

|> >      1. initial set-up               (a relatively minor influence...i hope)

There is no easier than with a Portmaster

|> >      2. programatic use of the device's ports              (major influence)

Host dependancy here, but as long as it has a usable rarpd and tftpd you
should be fine ...

|> >      3. on-going support of the devices and ports          (major influence)

Not sure what this means ... if you mean outbound devices then, yes, there
is a limited number of hosts we support this functionality on.

|> We bought a Portmaster about 6 months ago.  I found the manuals to be
|> quite poor.  I have never been completely able to figure out how to

Ok, I've said this to the 'net before, and I'll say it again. Two or more
years ago when I joined Livingston some smartass VP noticed that I had a
Tech Pubs background.  More's the pity.  The point I have made time and
time again about our manuals is that the information is all there but I
would defy you to find it. There's more defensiveness in that statement
than there is substance but then I'm the guy who wrote it, so there!

|> make their filters work correctly.  This would not be such a terrible
|> problem if their tech support were more responsive.  Each call to tech
|> support took us roughly 3 days to get returned.  I finally got the

Well, I'm glad you used the word "roughly" as I know you were put through
to an engineer directly on a number of occasions.

|> person in charge of tech support to help me.  He sent me some new, as
|> yet unrealeased manuals.  They are much better than the old ones, but

No. I sent you the WWW available Quick Start Guide ... though at the time
this info was not in html format.

|> I still have been unable to get the box to do everything I wanted.
|> Basically, I have just given up because things are working well enough
|> and it isn't worth any more time investment.

This is silly.?Man, I'm really sorry for anybody who could take offense
at this but if I bought something that was supposed to perform as advertised
and it didn't ... well, I guess I'd flame them. :)

|> The bottom line is that the hardware seems to be good.  The desired

Yes, the hardware is good ...

|> software capabilities are there.  The X windows based configuration
|> interface is great.  I just wish I could figure out how the thing
|> really works so I could get the last 10% of the functionality we want.

If, in this Comm world, all you are worried about is 10% I have to believe
your questions have been answered

 
 
 

Terminal Servers, Good/Bad/Ugly?

Post by James Carls » Wed, 14 Dec 1994 20:32:55





|> |> >
|> |> > I'm starting the process of evaluating async terminal servers that will
|> |> > be attached to our Solaris-based SPARCstations, and I wanted to query the
|> |> > net.at.large for any recommendations, warnings or * caveats/features.
|>
|> First let me state for the record that under Solaris the Host Device Emulation
|> feature of the PortMaster is not usable with printers.  It's not clear whether
|> this is a problem with 2.4 or with the pseudo-device emulation in this release.
|> Under all releases prior to 2.4 the Host Device emulation was broken because
|> of the way STREAMS modules are pushed and/or popped off the device in question.
|> As of 2.4, outbound modems appear to work properly but it's still not resolved
|> that printers (especially PostScript) will provide expected results.

For what it's worth, I've found that since the lpsched daemon simply
rips all of the modules off of anything it's pointed to (I watched it
doing this under "truss"), you have to use the old Berkeley-style ptys
to support remote printing under Solaris.  (The BSD ptys have their own
bugs, but at least they work with printing.)

---

Annex Software Support / Xylogics, Inc.               +1 800 225 3317
53 Third Avenue / Burlington MA  01803-4491     Fax:  +1 617 272 2618

 
 
 

Terminal Servers, Good/Bad/Ugly?

Post by Morry Ka » Sat, 17 Dec 1994 08:26:32


I do not know why I am bothering to respond, but here it goes anyway.
Quote:> |> person in charge of tech support to help me.  He sent me some new, as
> |> yet unrealeased manuals.  They are much better than the old ones, but

> No. I sent you the WWW available Quick Start Guide ... though at the time
> this info was not in html format.

This is not what you sent me (at least that is not what the cover
claims it is).  What I got was another 200 page manual that happened
to have a slightly better section on filters.

Quote:> |> I still have been unable to get the box to do everything I wanted.
> |> Basically, I have just given up because things are working well enough
> |> and it isn't worth any more time investment.

> This is silly.?Man, I'm really sorry for anybody who could take offense
> at this but if I bought something that was supposed to perform as advertised
> and it didn't ... well, I guess I'd flame them. :)

It turns out to be more costly (in terms of wasted personel time) to
fight with vendors after a certain point than to just make do and
never purchase any equipment from them again in the future.
Quote:

> If, in this Comm world, all you are worried about is 10% I have to believe
> your questions have been answered

The arrogance evident in this statement cobined with the unacceptable
response from tech support indicates why I would never again recommend
buying a product from your company.  
--
------------------------------------------------------
Morry Katz
Rockwell Science Center


(415)723-9427 (office)
(415)694-9121 (beeper)
------------------------------------------------------
 
 
 

Terminal Servers, Good/Bad/Ugly?

Post by Brian Ri » Sun, 18 Dec 1994 12:30:05




Quote:|> Rice) writes:

First I need to point out that while I think I was wrong in a coupla places
and left out a smiley in a major-league bad place, I don't thing the send-
reply pieces quote me in all spots ...

|> I do not know why I am bothering to respond, but here it goes anyway.

I'm glad you did ...

|> > |> person in charge of tech support to help me.  He sent me some new, as

That would be me ...

|> > |> yet unrealeased manuals.  They are much better than the old ones, but
|> >
|> > No. I sent you the WWW available Quick Start Guide ... though at the time
|> > this info was not in html format.
|> >
|> This is not what you sent me (at least that is not what the cover

Ok, I guess my memory failed me on this one ... this is the first spot
where I seem to be wrong ...

|> claims it is).  What I got was another 200 page manual that happened
|> to have a slightly better section on filters.
|>
|> > |> I still have been unable to get the box to do everything I wanted.
|> > |> Basically, I have just given up because things are working well enough
|> > |> and it isn't worth any more time investment.
|> >
|> > This is silly.?Man, I'm really sorry for anybody who could take offense
|> > at this but if I bought something that was supposed to perform as advertised
|> > and it didn't ... well, I guess I'd flame them. :)

Someone miss the humor in this?  Well, then I apologize ... sometimes it
really is inappropriate to try to be funny in a technical forum ...

|> It turns out to be more costly (in terms of wasted personel time) to
|> fight with vendors after a certain point than to just make do and
|> never purchase any equipment from them again in the future.

I agree with this totally but I'm unclear about the "fight" part.  I mean,
Livingston is where it is because we only do what the community wants, never
more, often less.  :-)  (oh, there I go again, damn!)

|> > If, in this Comm world, all you are worried about is 10% I have to believe
|> > your questions have been answered
|> The arrogance evident in this statement cobined with the unacceptable
|> response from tech support indicates why I would never again recommend
|> buying a product from your company.

This is the major-league missing smiley spot.  Morry, I _really_ apologize
for how this must have come across to you without the smiley.  When I saw
this without the smiley I went back to see of it had been edited out - I was
MORTIFIED to see I simply forgot to include it.  Deep apologies to you and
to any others that were (rightfully) offended by this.

--
Bri

 
 
 

Terminal Servers, Good/Bad/Ugly?

Post by Simon Broo » Wed, 21 Dec 1994 03:14:39





: |> >
: |> > I'm starting the process of evaluating async terminal servers that will
: |> > be attached to our Solaris-based SPARCstations, and I wanted to query the
: |> > net.at.large for any recommendations, warnings or * caveats/features.

: The *only* other box I ever tried to set up in this fashion was the Xylogics
: and (while I admit this was 3+ years ago) it seemed one had to be a Comm
: expert before you could even begin to understand what they wanted you to
: type into that file it booted from ... and oh, damn, I typoed something, go
: power cycle the box ... and oh REALLY damn, I put something stupid in the
: bootfile so I'm screwed.

I used to run three Xylogics Annex 3 boxes, driving mostly terminals but
half a dozen laser printers including two postscript lasers, and one MUX to
a remote site. The set-up for the Xylogics wasn't particularly friendly --
like the man says you have to edit a file -- but the documentation's good
and the file is quite straightforward, and I certainly never managed to
*it totally (and if I didn't...). There's no end to what the box can
do, including SLIP and PPP and all sorts of goodies.

However, to my mind there was a question mark over their reliability. You
want these things to just sit there and run, but I had one (of three) which
needed to be rebooted more than once a week over a considerable period,
while we had the hardware support people on site more often than I liked
(two years ago now... but my memory is about three visits and eventually a
main-board swap). I'll be buying a terminal server in about March, and I
guess I'll buy a Spider (unless someone posts an awful warning).

--

        ...we've just installed a massively parallel INTEL
        super-computer with 63.999706359 pentium processors...

 
 
 

Terminal Servers, Good/Bad/Ugly?

Post by Thomas D. Dav » Wed, 21 Dec 1994 12:46:21


: I used to run three Xylogics Annex 3 boxes, ... <snip>

: However, to my mind there was a question mark over their reliability. You
: want these things to just sit there and run, but I had one (of three) which
: needed to be rebooted more than once a week over a considerable period,
: while we had the hardware support people on site more often than I liked
: (two years ago now... but my memory is about three visits and eventually a
: main-board swap). I'll be buying a terminal server in about March, and I
: guess I'll buy a Spider (unless someone posts an awful warning).

We have 7 or 8 Annex 3 boxes here, and I have yet to see a hardware
problem.  Maybe Xylogics has tightened up Quality Control in the last
couple years?  Occasionally we'll see a software crash, but the boxes
dump their guts to a server and reboot.  Such is life.  ;-)

BTW, I find the Annex configuration fairly straightforward, especially
given all the options available.  (This is coming from a Unixish, line-
oriented perspective.  GUI would be nice, too...)
--
Tom Davis                 | The above statement shall be construed,
Network Software Services | interpreted, and governed by me alone.