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We have kiosk computers scattered around the country,
and are using VNC to control them.
But VNC has limitations (only works if the OS is intact, for instance).
I want to be able to control the computer even if it is stuck in boot.
Is there a cheap hardware solution for remote controlling a PC ?


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up vote 4 down vote accepted

What you are looking for is called "KVM over IP". Generally it's pretty expensive...your hardware device needs to be capable of connecting to the network, capturing VGA signals from the host, compressing and sending them over the internet, etc.

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Yeah, they are very expensive. Maybe I just need better software solution. The thing with VNC, its very easy to get yourself locked out. If for instance you hit "logout" instead of "restart", you are doomed. If the PC halts during reboot to ask you a silly questions, doomed again. Sad. – ShacharWeis May 7 '10 at 19:21
Many vendors make IPMI cards for their business-grade products. Ask your vendor if they make one, and what the features are (varies widely). They usually aren't too expensive. – Chris S May 7 '10 at 19:23
I don't know if a typical KVM-over-IP solution would be suitable for usage over a public network (like the Internet), so it may not be suitable depending on networking situation. I've only deployed them on very limited private networks (i.e. via direct cabling or dedicated switches, not over general (mixed) internal networking). – mctylr May 7 '10 at 19:42
mctylr - I've used Raritan/s KVMoIP over slow VPN tunnels over slow WAN links plenty of times, and haven't had a problem. Additionally, I recall that these devices allowed you to use SSL to encrypt traffic as well, so that shouldn't be a concern. – EEAA May 7 '10 at 20:03

Well, you could run virtualized appliances on the PC, so then you can manage them completely through the host system via a network. But well, if the host has any problem, you will still be doomed.

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Well, remote control using something like the PC Weasel will do it, but all that does is let you (for example) look at a bluescreen, reboot, and look at the bluescreen again. If you want to be able to re-image kiosk machines, then you could set up a WDS infrastructure (assuming Windows) that would allow you to tell a remote non-technical person on-site to just hit F12 or whatever for PXE boot, and re-image the machine.

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