Thursday, June 02, 2016

Trash to Treasure

I have this nice Digi EL162 (16 port) terminal server that I found in the trash a few years ago. It didn't have a power supply so grabbed it and put it on the ToDo pile and left it. The power supply was the easy part. From time to time I'd pull it out, research it and put it back when I didn't get very far. I must have had the EL162 for more than 10 years. Pretty much each time I'd make a little progress but not enough to actually start using the device.

Fast forward to this past weekend, while checking my notes, researching and playing around with the EL162 I managed to get it to work. :-). Here are a few things I have learned:

  • This is not a terminal server in the sense of a Dec or Cisco terminal server (and that's okay). Instead it's more of a serial port extension across the network which requires a device driver on the host system(s). The server's serial ports are not physically on the server like PCI cards but rather on the EL162 (on the network).
  • Telnet and ssh won't work to connect to the status command line but rlogin will.
  • To access the boot diagnostics menu, you need a serial cable on Port 1, 19.2K,8,n & 1, no Ethernet and a fresh reboot. Then you need to send 3 '#' (hash) characters. Reconfig as needed, then connect the Ethernet and then type boot. It should boot normally.
  • Make sure the firmware the EL162 is in the correct path for tftpboot to find it (if you need to upgrade). Mine was looking for the el16.prm file (oops, wrong name).
  • This one bit me hard: version 7.9 < version 1.2, 1.4 or 1.6. I found 1.6 and it's the version needed for the dgrp Real Ports driver/daemon.
  • On the Linux server, use the latest dgrp (Real Ports) driver. I currently have 1.9 (3?). I think there's also a Windows package.
  • I had a bit of an issue with Debian Jessie's OpenSSL pkg. I used the included OpenSSL tar ball for now.
  • I haven't compiled dgrp 1.9 yet for the Raspberry Pi.

The best part of getting the EL162 working is that now I can migrate Misterhouse off my old server to the new server. My old server has 2 PCI serial boards. With the EL162, I can attach my serial devices via the network. Also I can technically let my other servers use the other ports. This will require a bit of trickery (should be fun). I also go from 12 to 16 serial ports. Very cool device this EL162 and I have to congratulate and thank Digi for supporting this hardware as long as they have. I will be recommending Digi products.