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I'm just getting into using number of cheap server racks. I look into rack consoles and they look pricey for this particular work I'm doing. Do you know if I can turn my old MacBook Pro (early 2011) into one?

  • Could you provide more information? Of course you can, but what are your requirements? – Max Ried Jul 17 '14 at 9:06
  • @MaxRied I want to be able to connect to the each of my server racks and do the software-based maintenance stuff. – o-0 Jul 17 '14 at 9:16
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    SSH, VNC, RDP, serial console? – Max Ried Jul 17 '14 at 9:25
  • @MaxRied Ideally I would like to connect it to the rack of servers I have and use it directly as a rack console. I can connect remotely to the server via any machine. However I would like to leave the MacBook Pro next to the servers and use is as a rack console. – o-0 Jul 17 '14 at 12:38
  • I'm not exactly sure what do you mean. What kind of rack console? How does the original equipment connect to your servers? Do they have a serial interface? – Max Ried Jul 17 '14 at 20:07
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Just a guess here but it sounds like he wants to use an old MacBook as a glorified KVM. Now Server rack KVMs have a connector that goes to the Keyboard, Mouse and Video port of every server.

To do something like this you would need a software controllable KVM switch as you cant plug all of those servers into your MacBook and switch between them without some sort of hardware. Even then I'm not sure you can view incoming video, I am inclined to think not but am not completely sure.

One thing you MIGHT be able to do is use RDP and/or VNC on the MacBook and then plug the MacBook into a small dedicated hub/switch that then goes to a "spare" ethernet port on your servers.

Most servers have multiple ethernet ports and dedicating one to a "soft KVM" might work if they are not otherwise occupied.

The problem with that is that it is not strictly a KVM as it depends on the server's O/S being up and running, where a true KVM is nothing but a switch that connects directly to the server's keyboard, mouse and video ports. Allowing you to see and control the system from power on to power off, BIOS and other non O/S status messages included.

So for the TL;DR summary, probably not

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