conserver is an application that can be used to remotely connect to the system console of Unix/Linux servers. This can be done through the serial ports or via a terminal server (also known as console server).

The main advantages of using the conserver software are that more than one user can access the console simultaneously (one read/write the others read only) and you can scroll back to view messages that have disappeared from view. It also provides authentication so can be used to restrict who has access (useful if you have an older style terminal server where this may not be set up).

The following procedure can be used to install and configure conserver. Our example assumes you'll be accessing the system consoles via a terminal server.

 1. Download the conserver source code e.g. from http://www.conserver.com
 2. Compile and install the source as follows:
       1. gunzip and extract tar archive
       2. cd to extract directory and execute ./configure There's a number of
          options that can be supplied with the configure command that will
          control the way conserver runs. As these can be overridden on the
          command line, we left them as their defaults.
       3. make install
 3. Edit /etc/services to include the line:
     console 782/tcp conserver # port used by conserver
 4. The conserver daemon expects the name of the conserver server to be
    console so edit /etc/hosts and make console an alias for the server name
 5. Next the conserver.passwd file needs to be set up. By default this is in
    /usr/local/etc. An example file is shown below. The first field is the
    user name, the second is the passwd (*passwd* means authenticate in the
    standard unix way e.g. /etc/passwd otherwise you can cut and paste an
    encrypted password in here) and the final field is the conserver servers
    the user is allowed to access (any obviously mean any)  
      root:*passwd*:any
      user1:*passwd*:server1 
      user2:*passwd*:server1 
      user3:*passwd*:server2
 6. Finally edit the conserver.cf file (also by default in /usr/local/etc) .
    An example entry is shown below. The LOGDIR controls where the console
    output is logged. The fields on the next line are as follows. The first
    field is a name to represent a serial port. Usually it is sensible to
    give it the hostname of the server the port is attached to. The next
    field represents the port device name or in our example, the hostname of
    the terminal server (the leading ! indicates that this field should be
    treated as a terminal server). The next line is the port number on the
    terminal server to be used (if this was for a serial device the baud rate
    would be entered here). The next field is the name of the log file (the &
    indicates that it should have the same name as the connection name i.e.
    field 1 ). The last field can be used if you require timestamps in the
    log file.
       LOGDIR=/tmp # 
       server1:!termserver:10007:&: %%
 7. You can now start conserver,e.g.
    /usr/local/sbin/conserver -v -C /usr/local/etc/conserver.cf -d -M 192.168.10.10 -P /usr/local/etc/conserver.passwd
    (-C is the configuration file, -M is the IP address of the server running
    conserver , -d causes conserver to run in daemon mode and -P in the
    conserver password file)
 8. Now to connect to a system console enter console server1 - you'll now be
    connected to the system console of server server1
 9. To disconnect enter CRTL-E c . (for a full list of escape sequences enter CRTL-E c ? )

The man pages installed with the application are very comprehensive and explain all the options and file structures.

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