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Wireless Networking IT

Low-Bandwidth, Truly Remote Management? 215

Posted by kdawson
from the going-old-school dept.
kaiser423 writes "I'm looking to integrate some highly critical solutions into what would essentially be a remote, moving datacenter. No operators will be allowed at the site, and we may be able to have a high-speed INMARSAT data link. As a backup, we're planning to have multiple redundant low-speed Iridium data links. Essentially, we're looking to be able to power up/down and reboot some computers, and be able to start/stop some programs. We're willing to write the terminal interfaces necessary for our programs, and possibly do the remote desktop thing with some of our 3rd-party programs. But what is out there that would give us this type of access, work robustly over a high-latency, low-bandwidth stream, and would be tolerant to intermittent network outages? Please hold the pick 2 of the 3 jokes, I know they're contradictory goals; I'm looking for a compromise here! These boxes would regrettably nearly all be running Windows (with some VxWorks). Does anyone out there remember those days, and have any solutions that they preferred?" Read on for a few more details of this reader's requirements.

We've been looking at remote in-band and out-of-band management solutions, and really have found a ton of products. However, the "low-bandwidth" solutions still exceed our potential Iridium bandwidth (~10Kbps). Even if we have the INMARSAT link (192Kbps sustained, higher burst), a number of these solutions would hit that limit. We're starting to look at going old-school with some terminal-style applications, but haven't found much of a market for it; it seems to be a market that died with 56k modems. PC Weasel looks kind of like it might work, but the demo doesn't work for Windows.
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Low-Bandwidth, Truly Remote Management?

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  • by fifedrum (611338) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:03PM (#25632583) Journal

    you can do an aweful lot with IPMI, i.e. power cycle, and a remote access card that supports ssh can do the rest, alternatively a TTY terminal and pipe your consoles to serial ports

    oh, windows? nevermind

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:07PM (#25632653)

      It's no joke. Embedded remote access cards like iLO from HP or DRAC from Dell are the only real solutions.

      It would be painful to use their console viewing features over a low speed satellite link but, it would be no problem to power cycle, collect statistics and more. You can even forgo the web interfaces and use ssh on many of them.

      • by AJWM (19027) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:34PM (#25633073) Homepage

        Agreed.

        I remotely manage 50+ ProLiant servers this way, mostly via SSH to the iLO. Unfortunately since you want/need to run Windows on them you'll have to go graphic mode (via web interface and a Java app) to the OS. (I manage Linux servers so I can do it all via CLI.) You can even do remote installs via virtual media that mounts your local CD/DVD drive (or ISO image) on the remote, although that'd be painful at your speeds.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Atticka (175794)

          Isn't MS Server 2008 heavily scripted? My understanding is that you now have almost as much control in a 2008 environment with no GUI (CLI only) installed as you do with a GUI.

          http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/powershell-faq.aspx [microsoft.com]

          This may be the way to go.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Harassed (166366)

            As someone who works for a Microsoft Gold Partner I suppose I ought to defend Windows Server 2008 but the Core version *DOES* have half a GUI (the command line is in a window and it uses notepad for text editing for instance). What it does lack is .NET Framework support - apparently that needs a full GUI to even install and therefore PowerShell is NOT currently available on Server Core!

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by gallwapa (909389)

              Powershell can be installed on Core, it just isn't supported. Also 2008 R2 will have powershell.

              That being said, installing in full mode, you can use powershell in a supported config and manage it using that. It is awesome.

              Powershell (Which you can install on 2003 as well) + HP ILO and you should be set.

              I would like to say stay away from Dell's DRAC if possible. I've worked with DRAC III, IV, and V and they all *suck* compared to ILO 1/RILOE/RILOE II/ILO2

        • by Tawnos (1030370) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @06:26PM (#25633775)

          Painfully untrue, especially in Server 2008 (for which the core install doesn't even have a GUI). There are scripts, tools, and other things that make remote administration of windows possible in many ways that were much harder, previously. No GUI needed.

          • by Lennie (16154)

            I've seen people try and fail miserable at it. For example, try installing some hardware drivers which don't understand there is no GUI.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by RulerOf (975607)

            Painfully untrue, especially in Server 2008 (for which the core install doesn't even have a GUI). There are scripts, tools, and other things that make remote administration of windows possible in many ways that were much harder, previously. No GUI needed.

            Seconded.

            The real question is how much bandwidth you need for the WMI calls/data that all the new MMC's use... could potentially give him a GUI to work with over his slow connection if he so desires.

    • While I would never suggest windows offers the same features and flexibility as a Unix/Linux/BSD command shell, with some work, there is no reason a Windows server cannot be administered via a command line SSH session.
    • Powershell + ssh = Profit!

      I think I'm missing something...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mysidia (191772)

      oh, windows? nevermind

      It depends on what you are doing. Many elements of a Windows server can be managed remotely using MMC snapins that allow a remote connection.

      No remote desktop access is required for these remote management applications. In particular, you can manage DNS, Users, DHCP, Registry, event logs, etc, over RPC, without having to take on the bandwidth-intensive task of rendering remote video.

      As for custom applications and installing software that can't be scripted into a MSI running a

    • You can try LogMeIn. It supports HTML interface which is basically and JPG image you click on and it sends events to the computer and then refreshes. Typing is done through choosing Send Keystrokes. This way you can work around all animated crap in browsers. It's not great (painfully slow) but usually enough to do stuff that cannot be done in Powershell/SSH (somebody mentioned hardware drivers).

      2 ways are always better than one.

  • RDP (Score:5, Informative)

    by Malc (1751) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:05PM (#25632613)

    There's a surprising amount you can do from the command line within Windows these days. For UI access, RDP beats the common alternatives hands down, even if you log in just to use a command prompt remotely and thus have console state stored between sessions if the connection goes down. Have you actually tried this?

    I wonder if anybody can put some numbers on the latency and bandwidth? I spent four months in China maintaining Windows servers in California via RDP. With latency often around 600-750ms and packet loss, it was painful but still usable. I was even contending with nested RDP sessions (RDP over the VPN to a machine in an office in CA, and then RDPed from there to a colocation facility).

    • by initdeep (1073290)

      i use RDP every day to manage and work on servers in a datacenter.

      and the ISP that supplies my bandwidth at my office is terrible and will usually have between 200 and 900ms ping times at various times throughout the day.

      RDP works, sort of, in that it halts, waits for the information, and then tries to catch up.

      Most of the time it's successful, but sometimes it does do some weird things.

      and the remote access cards or remotely controlled PDU's would be a good addition to RDP.

      • by Malc (1751)

        Sounds about right. The thing that would kill me was launching IE to get some patch from MSFT's web site and end up on a page with animated images or some scrolling Silverlight/Flash bollocks. I'd have to resize the IE window down and/or disconnect, and various other tricks. Still works way better than VNC or pcAnywhere (latter I haven't tried for years as it was so poor; typical Symantec crap)

      • by afidel (530433)
        Try using the advanced options in mstsc to turn off all of the mappings (drives, printer, etc) and set the resolution to 640*480 or 800*600 at 256 color mode. I've used that over bad dialup and satellite and it works pretty well.
  • DTMF (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ganty (1223066) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:07PM (#25632655)

    "Essentially, we're looking to be able to power up/down and reboot some computers, and be able to start/stop some programs."

    Dial in using the telephone system and use a sequence of DTMF tones on your telephone keypad to carry out a task. This will be low bandwidth (about 2,700 Hz) and low cost.

    Ganty

    • Right idea but if he's using sat links? Then that tells me that phone lines may not be an option. Now shortwave or some other form of wireless however...

      Now for the OP I'd recommend asking himself what exactly needs to go over the link and what can stay local? Power up/down and reboot can stay local. Service start/stop? That depends.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Right idea but if he's using sat links? Then that tells me that phone lines may not be an option. Now shortwave or some other form of wireless however...

        Now for the OP I'd recommend asking himself what exactly needs to go over the link and what can stay local? Power up/down and reboot can stay local. Service start/stop? That depends.

        His low-bandwidth link is Iridium - i.e., satphone. I'm sure with one of those things a regular voice call works. BTW, last time I checked, the datathroughput of Iridium was aro

        • Better to use Iridium's data service, where you could use data packets to send commands, versus their phone service, where you have to wait for coverage (which can be spotty at some points) to execute commands.

    • It's an option, yes, but likely not a viable one unless the admins are looking at the very simplest of tasks, e.g. warm-booting servers.

      Here's a question that might prove relevant. How does NASA handle very similar requirements for their interplanetary missions? This might be a good time to open some dialog with the good people at Goddard or JPL and see what sort of ideas they might have.

  • RS-232 Serial Port (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbeaupre (752124) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:09PM (#25632677)
    Good ol' RS-232 let's you do a lot. Run one very low power board that can sit there listening to RS-232 input and act on commands. It can then toggle the power of other equipment plus route messages from them however you choose.
  • Not many options (Score:5, Informative)

    by duffbeer703 (177751) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:12PM (#25632717)

    Tivoli Management Framework had configurations designed to work with satellite links as slow as 16k. That solution was for monitoring and configuration management though -- not what you want.

    Your big problem here is your expectations. Remote Desktop over a slow-speed, high latency link just isn't viable. Anyone paying the megabucks required to support a field-deployed solution will not be happy with the crappy service you'll ultimately provide.

    You need to extensively model how your application works and develop appropriate procedures, runbooks for your remote operators and a toolset of programs or script to provide support for this "critical" solution.

  • Two simple words (Score:5, Informative)

    by Groo Wanderer (180806) <[moc.etaruccaimes] [ta] [eilrahc]> on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:12PM (#25632719) Homepage

    Two words will get you far in this situation, Command Line. Low bandwidth, latency tolerant, and generally asynchronous. If you can get any tools with a command line option, embrace them.

    GUIs suck, and they suck more over the conditions you describe. Avoid them like the plague. Also, think about mirroring the files you need to manage and editing them locally, then uploading them when you are done. Not always possible, but if it is doable, it can make your life a lot easier.

    Scripting is your friend here.

                  -Charlie

    • Two words will get you far in this situation, Command Line. Low bandwidth, latency tolerant, and generally asynchronous. If you can get any tools with a command line option, embrace them.

      GUIs suck, and they suck more over the conditions you describe. Avoid them like the plague.

      Came here to post this.

      The article has by now been tagged "ssh", which should be the obvious answer indeed. Even in Windows server editions this is a perfectly fine option these days - you should be able to do mostly anything that mat

    • Truly managing windows boxen over a low bandwith, high latency link (probably with a fair amount of packet loss thrown in for good measure)??? I can only think of four simple words to answer that one:

      1)You
      2)Are
      3)So
      4)Screwed

      Seriously, I've had to manage Windows machines over poor, slow links and it's a crap shoot. HP's hardware iLO is a must-have to start with. Second, for remote console stuff, Windows' own RDP sucks to a level of practical unusability if your bandwidth drops below 100kbps. Citrix Presentati

  • by dracocat (554744) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:12PM (#25632721)
    Perhaps I am not understanding what the issue is with using the standard console servers and PDUs out there? All serial access is pretty darn low bandwidth.

    http://www.avocent.com/products/serial-consolemanagement.aspx [avocent.com]

    http://www.raritan.com/products/serial-console-switches/ [raritan.com]

    Plug one of these in, then connect a serial cable to your servers. Many include a modem if you have a pair of copper wires for a phone line so you can keep it out of band.
    • by faloi (738831)
      Uplogix is another company to look into, they've got some built in hooks to non-TCP/IP power controllers and offer some more monitoring tricks.
  • by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:12PM (#25632723) Homepage

    a: Remote management cards often have command line interfaces for resetting, system health, etc, through SSH. True, SSH with 800ms RTT times is a pain-in-the-ass, but if scripted, should work fine.

    b: Once you can power cycle/machine health remotely, now you use SSH to connect to a command line shell on the system itself (yes, even windows) and do all further tasks from the command line.

  • by chazd1 (805324)

    I think it is important that you have all the equipment you can on IP addressable Ethernet Power strips so you can physically cycle the power remotely independent of higher level computer control. Something like this: Power Strip [leunig.de]

    There is no substitute for the ability to toggle the most significant bit--for sure.

    It sound like this is for Science in Antarctica.

    • My guess would be military - science people are usually pretty flexible in their choice of OS, especially if there's a pretty good reason to go with a different one than the one chosen.
      What leaves the question - since you can't patch via your low latency connection, how long until a script kiddy finds his way into your remote system?
  • SSH or stunnel? (Score:3, Informative)

    by mpapet (761907) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:14PM (#25632749) Homepage

    http://www.bitvise.com/winsshd [bitvise.com] It does the job connecting all kinds of platforms/client implementations. It does PKI too.

    HP's Compaq line of servers has **excellent** remote admin capabilities.

    Push the whole thing over an stunnel and you are good to go.

    Implementation is another issue. Publish an email if your budget supports consultants. Errmm. Well, it looks like slashdot is taking the place of a qualified expert, so good luck with that.

  • by maz2331 (1104901) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:14PM (#25632757)

    You may be able to run RDP across even the low speed links - choose the bare minimum screen resolution and color depth possible. It will still be pretty frustrating and slow, but you could use it with enough patience. Or you can run VNC, though I believe its performance will be less than RDP.

    For CLI access, install an SSH server on the Windows box. If your code runs as a service, you can interface to it through a CLI client. It's some development work, but possible.

    For power, I like APC's smart power strips. They support HTTP and SSH access.

    Whatever solution I used, it would have to be run over an encrypted satellite link.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tylernt (581794)

      Or you can run VNC, though I believe its performance will be less than RDP.

      Using TightVNC (high compression) and the DFMirage driver helps a lot, as does forcing your VNC viewer into 256-color mode (something I also do for RDP). I don't know about constrained network bandwidth, but on a LAN these things make VNC just as fast as RDP IMHO.

      Tip for using 800x600 -- if you set the Taskbar to auto-hide, you will still have just enough room to click OK/Cancel on tall dialogs.

      Back to the submitter -- seriously, Tel

    • by wkk2 (808881)
      I also like APC power strips. Be sure to control your sat-modem with a managed power strip. Have a local script reboot the modem if communication fails. The APC strips also support SNMP V3 so a simple set can cause a timed reboot on an outlet. I do this at home for a difficult DSL modem. If the modem doesn't respond it gets power cycled. An old model failed about once a week and a new one about every two months. SNMP supports encryption and the strips also support https. I do wish APC supported auth
  • VNC/RDC/NetOP (Score:5, Informative)

    by snowraver1 (1052510) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:15PM (#25632769)
    We use VNC and NetOp with our satellite sites. It works decent. It is slow (maybe 2 minutes) to authenticate with AD when you initially log on (if you log in locally, it is faster), but once you are authenticated, things work pretty good. There is definate latency between when you click the mouse and action happens, but it is definately usable.

    As for the iridum setup, you might want to check those speeds again. When we looked into it, they were only able to offer a 2400 baud serial connection over the Iridium system. That is REALLY slow, and with high latency. We decided against going with the backup.

    I'm not sure where you are planning on deploying these setups, but maybe a cellular modem would fit your needs more. They are fast, low latency, and comparable in price. The only hitch with them is that there is no SLA; just best effort. If you are out of coverage area, try to hook up a high gain antenna to the cell modem and try again.

    I would just use remote desktop tools to manage your servers. VNC especially works quite well with low bandwidth, high latency connections.

    One thing to let you know though. Make sure that you have someone that can go to the site and has access to the network equipment. We have almost 20 sites like this, and about 2 go down a month. The sat-modems or sat-controllers sometimes need to be rebooted, and having someone near the site to do that can save you guys A LOT of money. When we have to send out a tech, it costs around $2,000.00 due to driving charges.
    • It sounds like the intended use is on the ocean (container ship, cruise ship, etc). Cellular service is out of the question than. If it's land based, some sort of EVDO service would work great for them.

  • Apart from whatever control systems you choose - or are forced into, you can improve the odds by having redundant servers.That way, if your data links are too slow, or suffer an outage your primary will fail-over to the redundant system. Of course, you will need to test the possible failure modes first and assure yourself that you've thought of everything, but if the systems really are highly critical you will be willing to spend the time and money to do this.
  • IP aware KVM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RetroGeek (206522)

    Get an IP aware KVM.

    Using these you are separated from the operating system completely. You can see the machine boot, get into its BIOS, do a power reset (with a compatible power strip).

    They have encryption and use a Web interface. Some have a fat client.

    And try to run things from a command line as much as possible. Have the machine start a full screen command session upon boot, and hide the task bar. That should minimize the initial screen scrape.

    Its the next best thing to being there...

    • by Deadplant (212273)

      "Its the next best thing to being there..."

      except for when you are on a low-speed link in which case it is the worst possible solution.

      • by b0bby (201198)

        I've connected to mine over a 9600 cellphone DUN link and while it was pretty slow, you could get things done. I wouldn't want it as the ONLY option, but it's worth looking into as a backup.

    • by b0bby (201198)

      +1 on the IP KVM. The one I have uses VNC, and if you have USB cables hooked up & your BIOS supports it, you can actually boot from remote media (ie, point your client to your CD drive, and the KVM emulates the bootable media on the other end). That would be painful over a sat link, but it would be nice to know it was an option if needed. The nice thing is it doesn't mean that you can't have other ways to connect to the individual boxes, it's just another option, which is always good.

  • by neuroxmurf (314717)

    We've been extremely happy with the eRIC [daxten.com] remote management board from Peppercon for all our lights-out remote-datacenter Windows machines. We use it over landline dialup modem (33.6) but it will work fine over any serial link you can throw at it, as long as you're patient. Full graphical remote console, remote IPMI, remote reboot, remote poweron, indepdent power supply (optional), it's great. They're a little hard to track down in the US, but I believe Raritan distributes them now. They're not cheap, bu

  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:21PM (#25632851)

    Without knowing what you're trying to accomplish, it's hard to give any real advice. Automated spy van? Unmanned laser plane? Knight Rider style service truck? Continually running train with nuke launcher? There are only so many things you can do with an intelligent roving unmanned platform.

    • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:51PM (#25633309)
      He's one of Santa's elves. Santa's trying to get into the 21st century here. He's tired of having to do all this work. He's deploying unmanned present delivery machines. This elf is just freaking now because santa gave him all year to work on it but he spent it drinking cocoa and snorting candycane and now he's got less than a month left before he needs to demo it.
    • I be thinkin' it be The Pirate Bay, finally settin' sail and takin' to the high seas, yarrr...

    • by Cylix (55374)

      The new rave is mobile DC's for temporary or emergency off site traffic.

      Roll up a few trucks of servers and a cooling plant. Instant DC in the middle of wherever.

      It's also a nightmare to plan support around especially if you are retro-fitting a legacy model.

      Add extra point for pain if you were never able to achieve a scalable solution prior to implementing this.

  • RealWeasel? (Score:4, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:24PM (#25632915) Journal
    The folks at RealWeasel [realweasel.com] have a cute little device. Plugs into a PCI slot and emulates a VGA card. It then outputs, over rs-232, a serial console approximation of whatever the system is displaying on the VGA device. Also has watchdog, manual reset, and keyboard functions. Those, plus a bog standard serial terminal server, and you are all set.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The folks at RealWeasel have a cute little device. Plugs into a PCI slot and emulates a VGA card. It then outputs, over rs-232, a serial console approximation of whatever the system is displaying on the VGA device. Also has watchdog, manual reset, and keyboard functions. Those, plus a bog standard serial terminal server, and you are all set.

      Better quality servers (from Dell, HP, IBM etc) come with remote access cards to do the same thing, along with power & reset, raid reconfiguration, hardware monitori

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cylix (55374)

      We call these frame buffer cards.

      I remember when the PC weasel first hit and I was like this is so awesome.

      Now, there are cheaper bolt on or integrated solutions.

      • Do tell. I don't really have the cash to go comparison shopping; but I'd be interested to know the state of the field at present.
  • You may not need to purchase new software at all. I believe the Remote Desktop Protocol [wikipedia.org] (RDP), works reasonably well over slow links, down to modem speeds (<30kbps). According to Wikipedia you would have many times that with INMARSAT and Iridium might at least be fast enough to be tolerable, especially so if you can use multiple links.

    The advantages of using RDP are several: it's included with Windows so there are no additional costs (meaning no money is wasted on licenses if you decide it sucks and w
  • by Andy_R (114137)

    It's really difficult to get a feel for this question without knowing why anyone would want a 'remote moving datacentre' that isn't well connected to anything else. Why can't the computers be sited somewhere less troublesome? Would virtualising the machines to get round the booting/power on/off issues help, or is there some reason that this can;t be done?

    • Unmanned fembot bunny farm in Nevada. It's in the middle of the stinkin' desert so of course it's not very well connected. He needs to be able to reboot the 'bots between clients... don't ask why.
    • by tylernt (581794)

      Exactly. I'm still trying to figure out what good a datacenter is without network connectivity. Do you fire up a massive scientific simulation on a Beowulf cluster and then come back in a year when it's done crunching?

  • by hax4bux (209237)

    NetSNMP works even on windows. It is readily extended using shell scripts (to support your frequent reboots).

    Of course, SNMP also provides remote monitoring as well.

    I hope you have the ability remotely power cycle unresponsive boxes.

  • You could run Windows as a virtual machine on a Linux box and use the command line tools to manage it.

  • by Xibby (232218) <zibby+slashdot@ringworld.org> on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:49PM (#25633279) Homepage Journal

    Start with your server hardware. Most Dell servers have a Dell Remote Access Card which allows you to get a full console (including BIOS and power on options) via web page. Performance of the full GUI over a slow link is marginal however. I'm sure other server vendors have similar options.

    Also or alternatively, look for BMC controllers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseboard_management_controller) and IPMI interfaces (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_Platform_Management_Interface).

    From there address further needs with RS232, Telnet, SSH, etc. Step up to RDP and VNC for GUI needs.

  • Those of us using RDP (and ICA - but a Citrix installation just to get the ultra-low bandwidth for ICA might be overkill) back in 1998/1999 can tell you that it can work over a 9600 bps connection. Just set it for 16 color. You can also (as other posters have mentioned) do PowerShell for a lot of things. You can stop and start services and restart a Windows box from the command line (net stop [service]/net start [service] and shutdown /r respectively) and depending on the data may be able to transfer i

  • I will probably get yelled at, but the simple answer to me seems to be writing a web app. It was stated that they are willing to write terminal applications, so there is obviously some programming ability present.

    So why not write web apps. If you write your HTML well, then you can run it over pretty low bandwidth and all the work can be done by the server. There are still sites that work with 56k modems so it is possible to create low bandwidth sites (although most have stopped bothering).

    There isn't a s

  • Although many here are anit-Microsoft folks, I've got to admit Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol is *very* robust over high-latency, low-bandwidth networks. We've had many employees use it over satellite (DirecPC, usually) without any issue at all, when ssh or OpenVPN would fail.

    As far as remote reboot, etc, IPMI is your friend. Most modern server hardware includes at least a rudimentary support for it on the baseboard, with more capable optional cards available. One example is that Dell servers have a

  • by sohp (22984)

    I don't know about Windows machines, but I heard that certain robotic probes [cmu.edu] run VxWorks and are remotely controlled via a low-bandwidth, high-latency connection. Those devices have a lot of programmed autonomy and fail-safe built in. And they don't run Windows.

  • Hook your Iridium phone (and/or INMARSAT link if possible) up to a Linux box running Asterisk or TelAlert and use it as a login platform and/or use DTMF (or voice commands).
  • Your use of windows is unfortunate. A company called NoMachine makes a fantastic product called NanoX, which is a caching, compressing proxy server. Your remote system has to be X windows based, but your local system be one of several supported platforms.

    This is where X really shines. Where Windows has no alternative to ship you bitmaps over the wire, the X protocol is quite nice at making use of data updates that your client then renders. An old modem link (33kbps) was adequate for most software. As soon a

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      You realize that Microsoft's RDC does that as well, right?

      True, it has problems with programs that decide to draw their own GUI instead of using the Windows built-in one, but that'd be just as much a problem with X11. (Since in that case, you really have no choice but to transmit the bitmaps.)

    • And Wine kicks ass too. Turns all those gunky Windows calls to snappy network happy X calls :)

      And it allows you to share apps on a Windows network. Just install a free X server and make it rootless. Voila! X-based Windows apps sharable to wherever, including on the VPN to the employees homes :D

  • by CdBee (742846) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @05:58PM (#25633409)
    Get a very long network cable. Plug one end in at your principle location. Send the other end by mail to your secondary location. Wait for it to arrive

    This may take a while as threading the mail system tends to cause kinks that have to be sorted autonomously by remote postman protocol.

    When it arrives, plug in and use normal LAN remote control technology. Thanks to XKCD [xkcd.com] for the idea
  • by maxrate (886773)
    Get a BGAN terminal from Inmarsat. I have Iridium, it sucks for data.
    • BGAN isn't all that great either. Lots of billing issues that results in your service being cut off.

  • What you need is the solution which was popular back in the old days (circa 1974-1980). The minicomputer (DEC PDP-11/45) at the undergraduate science center at Harvard used a DH-11 (16-RS232-lines) to allow a dozen or so terminals and even a few extremely low bandwidth teletypes to connect to the computer running Unix. A similar solution was adopted at Time Inc. in the early 1980's to allow a PDP-11/34 to communicate with all of the far-flung correspondents allowing them to submit stories every week (also

  • With those 3 items, you should be able to do almost ANYTHING remotely.
  • Anyone who has taken even a passing glance at Iridium data knows it's 2400bps with stream compression -- it really bothers me that you have apparently looked into using it and don't know this basic spec.

    But, on to the problem: You need to manage some gear remotely and the lowest common denominator is 2400 bps. I really don't understand why you can't use a serial device server and forward/reverse telnet to do anything you really need. Windows 2008 "foundation" or "core" or whatever they call it really has ma

  • Sure, it's old, but it was designed for remote administration back when dialup was popular. Nowadays it's open-source and still highly extensible:

    http://bo2k.sourceforge.net/whatis.html [sourceforge.net]

    There are plenty of encryption and authentication plug-ins and it does some of what you ask.

  • I looked into this a while back and found one solution that you might find interesting. GD makes an Iridium reachback device that will combine four Iridium data channels into one larger virtual network pipe. If one connection goes down (which I understand happens often since the satellites are moving) the system will divert that traffic through the remaining three channels until the failed connection recovers. I was told that the unit can be booted using windows or Linux, which of course makes it more confi
  • The Iridium links are 2400bps each. 4 of them will give you 9600bps. I'm going to assume you have a device that uses 4 Iridium LBT's bonded together. At that speed, remote desktop is really not possible. Focus on the command line, even if it means writing something in-house. For win32, use the RCMD service on 2003 as a way to do some management for your servers (located on the 2003 Resource Toolkit disc) across a slow link like this one.

  • Put in a managed PDU, ssh or telnet to it, switch the power on/off to your servers. If the server is up, ssh or telnet to it, start/stop the applications. What am I missing? It's like the poster has never heard of telnet.

  • Sounds like patch management could be a problem, particularly if we're talking about Windows. Think about pushing service packs across those links. Consider anti-virus definitions, and any other 3rd party software updates, too. Depending on how many machines you are talking about, deploying a patch and antivirus update server might be wise, so they can all pull from the one local system.

    As far as the remote management piece goes, resilience to latency is going to be just as important as handling low band

  • http://blog.lxpages.com/2007/03/13/remote-desktop-for-linux/ [lxpages.com]

    This will give you some ideas. Really seriously evaluate NoMachine's stuff, it is VERY efficient over a low bandwidth high latency connection. There are a choice of both free and commercial implementations too. (Note that it is not actually a Linux specific technology, works fine on windows).

  • by Arterion (941661)

    Why not just use Window's built in management interface, WMI?

  • by The Dancing Panda (1321121) on Tuesday November 04, 2008 @06:49PM (#25634093)
    Well, I used to do sales/technical support for both Iridium and Inmarsat systems, so I guess I know a little about these. The BGAN/SwiftBroadband solution from Inmarsat can easily handle Remote Desktop sessions to these units. 256Kbps is the top sustained QoS you can get, but the units can get speeds as high as 492Kbps. The network is nowhere near saturation, so speeds of ~350Kbps are not uncommon. Latency is (and will always be) around 1.2s, which sucks for remote desktop, but is workable.

    I've seen people watch a slingbox stream over these things with no skipping, in a dense area. In a sparse area like what you've described, no one else will be on your spot beam, so the entire bandwidth of the beam is basically yours to use. It's really not an issue.

    Also, if this doesn't work for some reason, easy solution for the CLI that no one wants:
    1. Write CLI
    2. Write Client-side GUI for CLI so that customers think it's new technology
    3. Profit!
  • Rock solid and simple:
    Use the DTR pin on RS-232 to power equipment:
    Get an old Cisco 2509 async router. (This is the old routers for modem banks used by AOL and others in the old dial-up days. You can get them almost for free)

    Connect the DTR pin to control a switch/relay. This switch powers some computer equipment.

    It is simple to test your setup manually by logging onto the router and toggle DTR.

    Now write a little script that powercycle the eqipment with a 5 second delay.

    You can have a lot of these switches,

  • ... ehm Avocent!
  • by rindeee (530084) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @09:54AM (#25639539)

    ...only I used BGAN instead of standard INMARSAT (which may actually be what you're referring to here). In instances where I needed GUI access on Windows boxes I found a very workable solution: Installed 1 Linux box with FreeNX server and put RDP client on that box. I'd NX into the Linux box and then RDP into each Windows box from there. Absolutely workable over even a crappy connection.

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