At work, we inherited an old (and I mean old) HP ProCurve 4000m 48+ port switch (although only a quarter of those will be used). This thing is a MONSTER. I'm pretty inexperienced in professional tier networking, and am attempting to get it configured.

It has been reset to factory defaults, which means that it does not grab an IP or network mask for me to log into its management interface. According to the manual, I need to log into it via terminal to give it an IP. The manual is vague on exactly HOW to do this, though. The terminal port on the switch appears to be a standard serial port, but a serial-to-RJ45 adapter came with the switch (The label on the adapter reads something like "UTP Grounding Tap" if that's important to anyone).

Now, assuming I plug a patch cable into that adapter and into my laptop, how do I proceed to get terminal access to the switch using my terminal emulation program (which happens to be xfce-terminal but I can use pretty much any linux terminal on it if it matters)?

6 Answers 6


That adapter is likely for plugging the rj45 into a maintenance port (that looks like an ethernet port) on the switch and the DB9 side goes into your laptop.

The standard procedure for getting into a switch like that is to use a db9 to db9 serial cable, make sure that your settings are 9600-8-N-1 and that your terminal is set to use /dev/ttyS0, and then connect.

  • DWilliams doesn't say what gender the adapter is, but it could possibly be for connecting to a serial console server, which use RJ45 connectors. The manual doesn't mention anything about using one of the rj45 ports for management, only via the serial port and telnet. Aug 12, 2009 at 5:14

Assuming you've got it next to your machine (and not in a remote rack) connect a straight-through db9-db9 cable between ttyS0 (or S1, S2, etc) on your local box, and the console port on the switch.

The manuals (http://www.hp.com/rnd/support/manuals/8000_4000_2424.htm) say it auto-senses the speed, so you should be good talking to it at 115200.

I often use GNU screen to talk to serial devices: just try

screen /dev/ttyS0 115200

and you should be talking to it straight away.


You'll need a Cat5 to DB9, plug into the management port (generally on the back of the device) and get a serial console via some HyperTerminal-like program to your switch.

See http://www.sunyeoc.org/support/pdf/ProCurve4000m_install.pdf (specifically section 2-15) There are also instructions locating the management port in the pdf.

  • The console port is a standard DB9 serial port. Aug 12, 2009 at 5:11
  • sorry, I edited my mistake with the Cat5 to DB9, but I missed on the second. You are correct, thanks. Aug 12, 2009 at 5:32

I am not sure about that switch in particular, but in general I would approach it by:

  1. Taking out my usb to serial adapter and plugging it into the serial port of the switch
  2. Try 'sudo screen /dev/ttyUSB0' and hope it works, if not, look for terminal speed options in the manual
  3. Figure out how to set an IP for the management interface once I am connected

You need to connect the console port (likely a DB9 on the back) on the switch to a serial port on the PC. If the PC does not have a serial port, then find another PC or obtain a USB-serial cable (like this).

Note #1: You want the Management and Config guide, not the Install guide. Chapter 2 discusses giving it an IP address.

Note #2: why do you not think that it has not used DCHP to get an IP address? I believe that getting an address via DHCP is the default. If you have access to the DHCP server, check the logs.

  • afaik ProCurve switches don't come with any IP networking configured out of the box. It needs to be enabled with the "ip address" command. Aug 12, 2009 at 4:48
  • The manual I linked to says that DHCP is enabled by default, but that doesn't mean it is correct!
    – tomjedrz
    Aug 12, 2009 at 18:11

You did the big job :)
Well, Linux comes with many serial text and gui based serial communication programs. i used ser2net , but there are others like minicom and screen.

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