Arnt Gulbrandsen
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2010-07-02

Oxca KVM over IP

Oxca makes a range of KVM products, including one to provide remote KVM access via TCP/IP. The latter uses a java applet and runs in the browser, and isn't very fine at all. The basic KVM is okay. It has the usual LEDs and buttons, and does the job. The remote KVM applet is a different story.

My smallest criticism is that because it uses capslock for commands, often capslock is enabled inside the KVM and disabled outside, or the other way around. That's irritating, but there's much that's worse.

The applet lacks essential functionality. There's no menu or button to select a particular port, no way to see which port you're connected to, and no way to see which ports are live.

It suffers from jumping button syndrome. The UI has five push buttons and one menu. The menu and four of the buttons move suddenly and unpredictably. I hate buttons that move just when I'm going to to click on them. (And I'm not happy about icons that look like my mouse cursor either.)

Even worse, it doesn't handle focus changes sensibly. Type e.g. ctrl-f1 to change window, then later alt-tab to change back, and the host will think that ctrl is still pressed, so if you now type sudo foo the host will see control-s udo foo and stop responding to your commands and wild curses. Oops.

The manual is bad. For example, it does not mention how to select a particular port. The manual is 99 pages long and does explain how to burn CDs with Nero, but not how to select a KVM port. The secret is to type e.g. capslock capslock 1 1 2 shift (thanks) to change to port 12 and disable the host's screensaver, if any.

It eats CPU; leave the remote KVM/IP applet overnight, it will spend twelve hours of CPU time displaying the linux console screensaver. That black rectangle is a screenshot.

Update: The applet works much better over GRE and IPSEC tunnels than over SSH tunnels. Still not well, but much better.