Stallion Technologies is a well-known name in the multiport business. A few years ago their EasyServer was welcomed by SCO users as a forward-looking product, using the Web for configuration and on-line help coupled with a neat, smart package with eight ports. Stallion has announced their latest version, the EasyServer II, adding even more features to the terminal server.

The EasyServer II looks like the last EasyServer product, a gray block with only four LEDs on the front panel (Power, Receive, Transmit, and Network traffic), a many-holed curved top (awkward for stacking with other devices), and a backpanel with power switch, eight RJ45 ports, and both BNC and RJ45 Ethernet connectors. The package includes a CD-ROM and brief installation guide: all other documentation is on the CD. The Web-based documents work surprisingly well and guide you through the complete setup and configuration. EasyServer II works with many operating systems, including SCO OpenServer 5, SCO OpenDesktop, SCO UNIX, SCO UnixWare 7, Windows 95/98 and NT, NetWare and most standard versions of UNIX such as Solaris.

Installation is a breeze: connect the EasyServer II to the network, load the software under the appropriate operating system, then assign IP addresses to the device. If your network uses a dynamic IP address routine, the EasyServer II will come up right away. If you use static IP addresses you must connect a terminal to the first port and manually assign the IP and netmask. A telnet session from a UNIX or Windows host takes care of this step quickly, although you will need an RJ45 connector (unless you opt for the DB9 version of the EasyServer II). After rebooting the EasyServer II a Web browser is used to access the configuration routine.

One of the new features of the EasyServer II is TruPort, a method that allows full UNIX serial port functionality anywhere on the network. This allows you to connect the EasyServer II well away from your UNIX server, attach serial devices to the EasyServer II, then configure them as though they were attached to the UNIX box directly. While many multiport cards have allowed this type of functionality before, the EasyServer II implements it the easiest of any we’ve tested. (Older EasyServer II models can be upgraded to TruPort with a ROM upgrade.)

To test the EasyServer II we installed it on a SCO UnixWare 7 network with many Windows clients. The EasyServer II was configured with four modems, two standard terminals, one serial printer, and a router connection. The modems were configured as if they were local devices through TruPort, even though they were two floors away from the server next to the PBX. The TruPort system allowed for any combination of baud rates, parity, and flow control just as if they were standard tty ports on the server. Using the Web-based configuration tool we had the eight devices up and working properly in under five minutes. The EasyServer II can use both STREAMS and Line Discipline for the serial ports, allowing it to fit with almost any version of UNIX.

Throughout the testing period of two weeks, the EasyServer II performed flawlessly. The transparent pass-through of the network to the EasyServer II caused no slowdowns to the devices attached, and network traffic didn’t increase noticeably. The ability to add EasyServer II anywhere on the network, next to the needed devices, would seem to be an ideal way to configure a UNIX system. The EasyServer II and its TruPort system is a worthy successor to the earlier EasyServer.