I have a few servers in a rack that like to drop their network connection, requiring a restart and/or handheld intervention. I purchased a Linksys NSLU2 and installed Debian on it in order to create a serial terminal. However, with USB-Serial converters running in the $30 range I'd really like to use USB (I have plenty of USB cables).

Is there a way to get Ubuntu Server to listen for "serial" terminals on a USB port? I doubt I'll coax the BIOS into talking to me over USB, but can I at least convince Ubuntu to do it?

  • Bull. Monoprice has USB->serial adapters for under $6 and I'm sure a ton of other places are in the ballpark. – jgoldschrafe Nov 16 '10 at 17:20

Tell mingetty or whatnot to connect to ttyUSB<n> in inittab.

  • I suppose I was assuming there would be some USB magic that needs to happen to get my terminal (a USB host) and a server (also a USB host) to talk to each other. I can try this though. – magneticMonster Nov 16 '10 at 16:44
  • Wait, you're going to hook two USB ports directly to each other, without any intervening device? This won't work as both sides are expecting a USB slave, not another USB master. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Nov 16 '10 at 16:47
  • Yes, that's what I was thinking the problem would be. Can you recommend a device to throw in between that's less than $30? Otherwise I'll just stick with serial converters. – magneticMonster Nov 16 '10 at 17:11
  • You might be able to get a USB-USB bridge cable, but those work as network devices, not serial devices. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Nov 16 '10 at 17:16
  • mingetty? it does not set baud rate! agetty or mgetty work much better. (most getty clones work fine except for those designed exclusively for the console such as mgetty and fbgetty.) – hildred Jul 13 '15 at 0:58

You might have a look at this page, which explains the basics of remote management.

Some servers have integrated out-of-band admin features, like HP iLO, IBM RSA and Dell DRAC, which could interest you as well.

Regarding the serial port solution, this page explains how you can attach a dumb terminal to a linux host, using *getty.

I would not recommend some kind of serial over usb in that case, as it would limit the possibilities. No access to the bios, no access to the bootloader...

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