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// Tales from software development

What does a blank screen on a KVM-over-IP connection mean ?

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The project I’m working on at the moment is to implement an application that will run on our client’s secure network. The agreement that allows us to access the network requires that we use a single stand-alone computer that must not be attached to any other network. 

This has turned out to be a nuisance because it means that you have to physically be at the computer to use it. Even within our offices this often isn’t very convenient but its a much bigger problem when most of the company’s developers, like me, are working at other locations.

Our solution was to use a KVM-over-IP extender attached directly to the computer. An extender is usually used to enable a KVM to be accessed over an IP network but there’s no reason why you can’t use one to remotely control a single computer rather that the keyboard, mouse, and monitor input ports of a KVM. The extender is attached to the office LAN and we can access it remotely by connecting to the company’s VPN. (Just to be clear – we are controlling the computer remotely but it is not attached to any network except the client’s secure network.)

After successfully accessing the computer remotely via the VPN and KVM extender last week, I was disappointed to find that it didn’t seem to be working when I logged in on Monday morning. The symptoms were a bit strange: the login to the VPN was successful and I successfully logged in to the KVM extender but all I saw was a black screen that didn’t respond to the keyboard or mouse.

Blank screen

I spent a few minutes repeatedly pressing the Windows key, trying CTRL-ALT-DEL key sequences, etc., but without any success. After 10 minutes I decided that I’d have to call the office and ask someone to reboot the computer because I couldn’t get any response from it. I called but got no response so I emailed my coleagues to ask if someone in the office could reboot the computer.

A few minutes later an email arrived from a developer working at home – there was no one in the office today and because of the sensitivity of the secure network connected computer, the last person to leave the office on Friday had turned it off. So, the reason that all I could get from the KVM extender was a blank screen was because the computer it was attached to was powered down!


Written by Sea Monkey

July 9, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Environments, Hardware

Tagged with ,

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