Serial Console

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To use GRUB on the serial console, we have to configure the serial line and the output device[1]

serial --unit=0 --speed=115200
terminal_input  serial
terminal_output serial

Or, for GRUB Legacy:

serial --unit=0 --speed=115200
terminal --timeout=5 serial console

On most distributions, GRUB can be configured via /etc/default/grub:[2]

GRUB_SERIAL_COMMAND="serial --unit=0 --speed=115200"
GRUB_TERMINAL="serial console"
  • If the arrow keys do not work through your serial console, try CTRL+P resp. CTRL+N instead.[3]
  • Add --dumb to GRUB_SERIAL_COMMAND if your terminal is not VT100 compatible.


The FreeBSD boot process, in short:[4][5][6][7][8]

boot0 → boot2 → loader → kernel

To output to the serial console[9], we can configure each stage to do just that.

For the boot2 stage, use boot.config[10]:

$ cat /boot.config
-P                                                  # Or is it "-D"?[9]

For the loader stage, use loader.conf:

$ cat /boot/loader.conf
console="comconsole,vidconsole"                     # Output on serial & video console, in that order
boot_multicons="YES"                                # Output on both devices

Once booted, the userland needs a serial console too:

$ grep ttyu0 /etc/ttys
ttyu0   "/usr/libexec/getty std.9600"  vt100  onifconsole secure



To see the boot messages, add the following to the kernel command line:[11]

console=ttyS0,115200 console=tty0

This will display boot messages both to the first serial port and the VGA console. Both will be usable for login after the system has booted.


 $ grep ttyS0 /etc/inittab /etc/securetty 
 /etc/inittab:S:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 115200 ttyS0         # Or "../getty -L ttyS0 115200 vt100" for getty 
 $ init q


 # grep ^[a-z] /etc/init/ttyS0.conf
 start on stopped rc RUNLEVEL=[2345]
 stop on runlevel [!2345]
 exec /sbin/getty -L 115200 ttyS0 xterm
 # initctl start ttyS0


To enable[12] the serial console in an OpenSUSE or Debian system:

$ sudo systemctl enable serial-getty@ttyS0
ln -s '/usr/lib/systemd/system/serial-getty@.service' '/etc/systemd/system/'

$ sudo systemctl start serial-getty@ttyS0
$ ps auxw | grep tt[y]
root      8247  0.0  0.1   4444  1460 tty1     Ss+  00:23   0:00 /sbin/agetty --noclear tty1 linux
root      8608  0.0  0.1   4724  1708 ttyS0    Ss+  00:29   0:00 /sbin/agetty --keep-baud ttyS0 115200 38400 9600 vt102

Adjust the console name as needed, e.g. use hvc0 for Xen VMs.


The serial console has to be activated by adjusting the bootstap software:[13]

$ dumpfs wd0a | grep ^format
format       FFSv2
$ doas installboot -v -o console=auto,speed=0 /dev/wd0a /usr/mdec/bootxx_ffsv2 
File system:         /dev/rwd0a
Primary bootstrap:   /usr/mdec/bootxx_ffsv2
Boot options:        timeout 5, flags 0, speed 0, ioaddr 0, console auto

Go back to a VGA console with console=pc.


The serial console can be configured[14] via boot.conf:

$ cat /etc/boot.conf                                                                                                                                                                               
set timeout 10
set tty com0

Once in the boot prompt, the console output device can be changed to e.g. pc0 again.

Configure the operating system too, so that we can actually login over the serial console:

$ grep ^tty00 /etc/ttys
tty00   "/usr/libexec/getty std.9600"   vt220   on  secure

$ doas kill -HUP 1


$ eeprom ttya-mode='115200,8,n,1,-'

$ cat /rpool/boot/grub/menu.lst 
serial --unit=0 --speed=115200
terminal serial console
timeout 10
default 0

title Oracle Solaris 11 Express snv_151a
findroot (pool_rpool,0,a)
bootfs rpool/ROOT/solaris
kernel$ /platform/i86pc/kernel/$ISADIR/unix -B $ZFS-BOOTFS,console=ttya -v
module$ /platform/i86pc/$ISADIR/boot_archive

$ grep ^console: /etc/ttydefs 
console:115200 hupcl opost onlcr:115200::console

$ svcadm restart svc:/system/console-login:default

How to send a BREAK

Here's how to send a BREAK via telnet(1):

 # telnet
 Connected to terminalserver.
 Escape character is '^]'.
 ser2net port 2002 device /dev/ttyUSB0 [9600 N81]
 solaris console login: 

OK, now we're at the console prompt. Press ^] to get to the telnet prompt and do:

 telnet> send break
 Type  'go' to resume
 {3} ok printenv


There's a SUSE solution[15] describing the same:

  • Shutdown the VM, Open the settings.
  • Select the hardware tab and click Add, Choose Serial Port and hit next.
  • Select Output to file and click next.
  • Click Browse and choose a file location inside the VM folder on the datastore.
  • At the boot prompt add the needed kernel options and hit enter.