[ProgClub programming] Pi as a KVM (over IP)

Jedd Rashbrooke jedd.rashbrooke at gmail.com
Fri Jul 24 18:56:31 AEST 2020

 I really really don't like KVM's - probably having grown up having to
wheel them around data centers didn't help.

 My two servers at home have HP iLO cards, so as long as there's power to
them, I can get to them from anywhere.  The server at my
home-away-from-home is 20 metres away, in a shed, so a KVM wouldn't help
anyway.  For that machine I opted for a $70 tiny monitor that can be
powered from USB, along with a $20 small USB-dongle wireless
keyboard/mouse.  I've had to use that setup twice in the past year.

 A story came up today on using a Raspberry Pi as an ersatz KVM [0] - this
was on HN, so there's an overabundance of comments [1] about the build and
links to similar projects.

 I learned that if you've got a vPro Intel CPU then you can use AMT - which
provides a stripped down version of iLO / iDRAC.  AMD has something similar
with DASH / DMTF.  I also found out you can get an HDMI decoder on a USB
dongle for AUD$19.35 -- astonishingly cheap.

 Seems one of the blockers trying to do this on earlier Pi models is the
need for gadget mode / OTG through the USB port, so it can pretend to be a

 I note (towards the end of the article) that the author uses a passive
heat sink case - which is what I just received a pair of for my two new
RPi4's.  My first two, I'd gotten them with the finned chunky heat-sink
case that also came with two small fans mounted on top, but both of those
models started making weird noises within a few days of being left on, and
what I've read[2] elsewhere suggests the thing *really* wants cooling, but
passive cooling is probably sufficient, at least for things I'd likely be
using it with.  (I'm happy to build a small plastic or wooden enclosure and
put in a couple of beefier USB-powered fans if this proves insufficient -
they're cheap, commodity, and easy to replace.)

 Last buy was from LittleBird, but this time I went through CoreElectronics
(fairly new I think) - their aluminium heatsink case [3] has a top and
bottom component, whereas the mini-fan + heatsink I had before only covered
the top of the Pi, which felt a bit dubious having the underside exposed.
 This case also has a little set of double-sided thermal tape squares and
zero instructions on putting the thing together.


 [0]  https://mtlynch.io/tinypilot/
 [1]  https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23927380
 [2]  https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/thermal-testing-raspberry-pi-4/
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