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Connecting Apple Mac Laptop to Console Port on DL380 running Linux

Occasional Visitor

Connecting Apple Mac Laptop to Console Port on DL380 running Linux


Does anyone know the settings/material/adapters I need to connect an Apple Mac Laptop to the console port on a DL380 to see the console output? 


I am new to these servers - before, connecting to a PC was simple: You'd simply attach a serial to RJ45 in the console of the UNIX server and then hyper-terminal into the console. I did not see any RJ45 console port on these boxes, and I desperately need to use my mac to have access into the Linux console.



Has anyone done this before?



Honored Contributor

Re: Connecting Apple Mac Laptop to Console Port on DL380 running Linux

The console of a Linux system can take many forms.


On PC hardware like DL380, the default Linux console uses the VGA (or better) display adapter, keyboard (either PS/2 or USB should work) and optionally a mouse. You typically cannot connect to this from another computer: plugging in a local display and keyboard is required. If you want a Unix-style serial console, that can be done, but requires some set-up, either at the time of Linux installation or later.


You'll need to specify a boot option to switch the Linux console to a serial port. If you do this when installing Linux, some server-type Linux distributions may automatically configure the system for a serial console. Otherwise, you may need to configure a getty process for your serial port and also configure the bootloader to take commands from a serial port too.

Server-grade hardware like DL380 may offer access to BIOS configuration through the serial port too, although you may have to change a BIOS setting through the VGA-based console in order to enable this functionality.


A DL380 (which generation?) usually has two serial ports: usually at least one (by default, the first one, known as COM1 at the BIOS/hardware level, and as ttyS0 in Linux) is a physical serial port with the usual D9 connector, and the second one (COM2 / ttyS1) may be a virtual serial port accessible through the iLO. I think the oldest generations of a DL380 may have had two real serial ports, and the newest DL380 Gen8 systems may have just a single virtual serial port.


If your DL380 is not one of the earliest generations, it will include some version of iLO. It can provide a console over the network. One way is to just plug a network cable to the iLO network interface, rely on DHCP to auto-configure the network parameters, and use the default username & password listed in the server's toe-tag to connect to it. Alternatively, plug in a VGA display and a PC keyboard, and press F8 at boot time when the iLO is initializing to configure the iLO passwords and network settings manually.


HP has a whitepaper that details the procedure for using iLO for a remote Linux console. This includes setting up a virtual serial console. Essentially the same procedure can be used to achieve a serial console on a real serial port, too.


After the one-time configuration work, you will have a network-accessible console with server power switch control that is accessible through a web browser, a Telnet client or (in newer versions of iLO) a SSH client.


(Standard notice: You should not allow unrestricted access to your iLOs from the Internet if you can possibly avoid it. The preferable solution is to connect them to some internal network segment that can be accessed from trusted hosts only.)



But if a serial console is what you have, and you only need serial console access through a modern Mac, you'll need:

  • a USB-to-serial adapter, and a Mac driver for it. I've had good experiences with PL2303-based adapters, which can be found from many manufacturers. An adapter may or may not come with a Mac driver from the manufacturer. An open-source driver is available:
  • a terminal emulator software that is capable of using serial ports.

Technically, the Terminal application on a Mac OS X desktop is an xterm-compatible terminal emulator, but it cannot talk to serial ports on its own. That can be worked around with a bit of command-line/script trickery:



If you want a "real" terminal emulator application that is directly useable from the Mac desktop, the free options are somewhat limited.


If you can accept a terminal emulator which does not integrate with the Mac desktop,

there is Minicom, available through MacPorts or fink.


This MacRumors thread might be informative: