Glossary of terms

The glossary contains definitions of commonly used terms in the KVM switch and extender industry.

What is a KVM switch?

KVM is the industry term for Keyboard-Video-Mouse. With a KVM switch, you can control several computers from a common keyboard, display monitor, and mouse. One of the original uses for a KVM switch was to save space. Imagine the amount of room it takes for ten computers, each with a separate keyboard, monitor, and mouse. Furthermore, to control one of those computers, you have to walk up to the right keyboard, monitor, and mouse.

KVM switches are still popular, but have changed in their usage due to the emergence of virtual servers and faster networking technologies. So called headless computers (computer with no display attached) have become commonplace in data centers. They are managed remotely over the network. Technologies such as RDP (remote desktop protocol) and VNC (virtual network computing) have allowed the video console port to be transferred over networks. One of the benefits, however, of KVM switches over remote access is that you can access the computer at its boot state in order to make changes or diagnose problems.

What cabling do I need to use with a KVM switch?

There are several categories of KVM switches each with its own cabling properties.

Direct connectors

On this switch, the same connectors are on the switch as are on the computer. The switch and computer are connected together with one-to-one cables. Direct cabling has the advantage of using standard cables, but you need two or more cables for each computer: one for video and one or more for keyboard, mouse, and any other interfaces, such as audio.

Combined connectors (often called combo or combo-free)

This style of switch has video, keyboard, and mouse signals integrated together on one connector. The switch and computer are interconnected with a proprietary cable. Combined cabling has the advantage of being a neater installation, but it requires proprietary cabling. It also tends to be more robust because it screws to the switch and is not just held by friction such as USB, PS/2, or HDMI.

CATx or fiber connectors

This switch uses transmitters and receivers to convert the KVM signals to CATx or fiber. The switch and computer are interconnected with standard CATx or fiber cables. This system has the advantage of using very simple standard cabling and has an inherent built in long distance capability. It requires a separate transmitter or receiver for each port usually making the system more expensive. The cables to the video and peripherals on the transmitters and receivers are usually direct.

Do I have to install any drivers on my computers for a KVM switch?

No, that's one of the benefits of KVM switches. They use the standard interfaces and drivers already installed on your computers.

How do I switch from one computer to another with the KVM?

Rose KVM switches offer many different methods of switching computers:

Front-panel buttons

Many switches have a front panel from which you can connect one port to another.

Serial port

Sometime you would like to control the switch though a computer or automated app. Using the serial port simplified this. This can also be used for multi-head switching so that one unit can cause another unit to be switched.


Directly switching to a computer by entering a key sequence is a quick and easy way to switch.

Hot-key with OSD

If you have several computers, and want to see a list of names of computers that you can switch, then use this method.

External push-button control

Rose makes several types of external push-button switches that you can use to switch instantly to the desired computer.


Some switches allow you to run an application and switch over the network.

Can I expand the ports on the KVM switch?

Some switches offer built-in expansion capabilities to increase the amount of switch ports available. These switches have a dedicated expansion port, which is connected into a bus or ring topology. Other switches can be expanded by connecting one of the computer ports to the user port of the next switch. Still other switches are chassis-based and you can add cards as you need them. With a KVM switch, it is much easier to expand only the computer ports without expanding the amount of user ports.

How quickly do the switches switch between sources? Will I notice a delay?

KVM switches are hardware based and thus switch very rapidly. You may encounter some delay as the display monitor is adjusting to the new signal. For transparent USB applications, you may have to wait a short time for the USB to re-enumerate. KVM over IP switching inherently has more latency, which may result in short but perceivable delays.

What is a KVM extender?

A KVM extender allows you to send the keyboard, monitor, mouse, and other interface signals over a distance using CATx, fiber or a network. This can be for a single computer or can be connected to a KVM switch to control multiple computers. Some switches offer extension technology as an integral part of the switch.

What are the benefits of using a KVM extension product?

Extending KVM stations away from computers carries a variety of benefits in different situations:

Computers and users can avoid hazardous and dangerous environments

Theft and vandalism can be prevented

Noise and heat in the office area can be reduced

Valuable space can be saved

Computers can be located where the power, cooling, and configuration can be centrally managed

What is KVM IP?

KVM-IP (Keyboard-video-mouse via Internet-Protocol) technology is a system for remotely controlling a computer over the Internet. You install a KVM-IP device or switch at the computer. Then you use an application to access that computer remotely. In the case or Rose products, the application is based on VNC (virtual network computing) and can be run as a standalone application or through a browser.

KVM-IP varies from other remote technology in that there is dedicated hardware to convert the computer's signals to IP. This means that you can reboot the computer and access its BIOS. It also means that it is totally unobtrusive and requires no drivers on the computer being accessed.

The video compression used is intended to transmit only changes between frames and is more suited for accessing desktops rather than moving video. The dedicated hardware also performs encryption in order to secure the connection.

For an extender, what is the maximum distance between source and destination?

Each product has different capabilities. For analog VGA over CATx, the maximum distance is dependent upon the resolution. Maximum capability is 1000' (300m) at 1280 x 1024. You can go higher resolutions, but at shorter distances. For more information look at the VGA extender guide.

For DVI over CATx, depending upon product, the maximum distance is around 460' (140m). Since this is digital, it is resolution independent. You can run 1920x1200 at this distance. Refer to the DVI/HDMI extender guide for more information.

For VGA or DVI over fiber, depending on product, you can run multi-mode fiber to 1300'-3300' (400m - 1000m). For those products supporting single-mode, you can go up to 33,000' (10km). See the Fiber extender guide for more information.

How long does it take to process and ship an order?

If the product is in stock, we will ship right away, subject to credit and purchase order reception. If the product is not in stock, we will have to build it to order and will quote you on the lead time. Since we have a full service manufacturing facility, we will do what it takes to satisfy you.

What is the warranty on Rose products?

Most of our products include a one-year warranty with the option of purchasing an extended warranty.

How do I request a return?

Call our customer service department at (800) 333-9343.

Do you sell direct to the end user?

Yes, please give us a call at (800) 333-9343.

Can I order products customized for specific applications?

Many Rose products come with flexible options that allow it to conform to most needed situations. A lot of our new products and product ideas come from customer suggestions. If you have an application that you don't see, please give us a call to discuss it.

How do I become a reseller or distributor for Rose?

Refer to our reseller program and then call our customer service department at (800) 333-9343.

What is your EOL policy?

Rose does not publish an end-of-life (EOL) policy. Rose is well known to have an extremely long product life cycle. If the customer still wants a product, we will make it, assuming the underlying parts do not become obsolete. We are still making some products we designed in the 1980's.

Are your products TEMPEST certified?

CrystalView Pro Fiber extender is our only TEMPEST certified product.

How did Rose get its name?

It was the early '80s. Wanting to make a name for the company that was memorable and in tune with the times, several name categories were examined such as gems, animals, and plants. Several companies had used the names of plants such as, Apple Computer, Lotus 1-2-3, and Orchid Technology. No one had yet used rose. Since the founders were both electrical engineers and the exact products were not yet defined, the general term electronics was decided on. The two came together to form Rose Electronics.

In 2001, Rose Electronics, bought the domain name ROSE.COM from Rose Internet.