Piecing together low-powered hardware for an RS-232 terminal server

Posted by Fred on Super User See other posts from Super User or by Fred
Published on 2012-11-15T22:19:39Z Indexed on 2012/11/15 23:05 UTC
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I'm working on reconstructing my Cisco lab for training/educational purposes and I found that the actual terminal server I have is dead. I have a couple of 8-port PCI serial cards which would be more than ample for my lab, but I don't want to leave my personal computer running to be able to access the console ports. Ideally I would access the terminal server remotely, either by SSH/RDP to the box (depending on what OS I go with) or by installing a software package that allows me to telnet directly to a serial port. I know I've found a program that does this under Linux in the past but its name escapes me at the moment.

I'm thinking about scavenging for some old hardware, on eBay or something, to put together a low-powered PC. Needs to be something that:

  • Has Low-power consumption
  • Has at least 2 PCI slots (though I certainly wouldn't complain about having more)
  • Has onboard Ethernet (or, if not, another PCI or ISA slot (not shared))
  • Can be headless once an OS installed (probably Linux)

I'm currently leaning towards an old fashioned Pentium (sub-133MHz era) but I am wondering if anybody else knows of another platform/mobo that would suit these needs. Alternatively, I've been considering buying a Raspberry Pi and a big USB hub along with a bunch of USB->Serial adapters but this sounds like it'd get messy quick with cables and adapters all over the place, and I may not even have the same ttyS#'s between boots.

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