Here's what I've found out. It's a mix. If any one solution looks to
be the "winner" it's the roll-your-own solution. This is what I'm going
for since it's relatively cheap for low-density installs. The only
problem I'm finding is that it's tough to get a 1U box that has 2 PCI
slots open. 2U seems overkill. Since Compact Flash adapters are cheap
(about $20) and the cards themselves can be had for $59 (128MB), I'm going
to go diskless. I'll probably use conserver, but I'll be giving rtty a
try as well.
If anyone has pointers to cheap 1U or 2U's, I'm all ears. Just need a
minimal box, don't need much CPU for this.
With about 13 replies, I can report the following:
Lantronix - http://www.lantronix.com/products/cs/scs820_scs1620/index.html
1 vote for, one against. The complaint was that the Lantronix has a very
bad management interface.
I also noted that BBC is using a mess of these at Telehouse...
Cyclades - http://www.cyclades.com/products/ts_series.php
"Under the covers, it's your average linux box with ttys0-ttys31. The
portslave software is pretty nice, too. Offline data buffering and the
ability to stick a hostname relationship with a serial port. [Ex: ssh2
bob:myserver@cyclades to connect to server myserver ]"
Another poster is using the cyclades and the digi, and if I'm reading him
right, uses the Cyclades 48 port for smaller installations and the digi on
Digi - http://www.digi.com/solutions/devtermsrv/cm/index.shtml
Looks to run about $1800 for 16 ports
1 for (kind of). The poster has a large installed base and it mostly
works and has a very high density. Apparently it's a two-piece system
where a cable fans out to boxes that further split it. But if one of the
splitters locks up, everything dasiy-chained through it locks up. This
person is now using Cyclades (please correct me if I'm wrong on this one).
Equinox - 2 folks using these (cards).
"We use the Equinox SST-128P (theoretically expandable to 128 ports,
comes in 16-port chunks) on Linux. Their linux drivers work well [...]
It's aPCI card with a cable to an external plugboard with the 16 RJ-45s."
"I have had a bit of experience with Equinox (http://www.equinox.com/)
gear and can recommend them. Their serial hubs will talk serial to almost
anything out there and when plugged into cat5, tunnel those serial ports
back to physical mappings on a host system. [...] Geared more towards
industrial applications (what I'm using them for) but I have often
considered slapping one in our telecomm rack to map serial ports
on my local box to our various gear."
2 suggestions to use a 2511 or a 3620 with 16 port async cards. The 2511
would probably be a bit too slow if you enable ssh though...
2 for an old portmaster behind an ssh-able box (if you have the space)
Arula Systems (www.arula.com)-
1 vote for this, apparently a new company.
Build your own -
5 for this solution. Everyone is using FreeBSD, and the RocketPort cards
seem to work better than the Cyclades cards under FreeBSD. 3 people are
using conserver (www.conserver.com) to make it easier to manage. Paul
Vixie shared the following (he gave permission to quote in full):
"We use RocketPort, FreeBSD, IronSystems, and ISC rtty.
This puts a BSD box in every POP, which is very useful for many reasons."
So there you are... Thanks for all the responses.