FYI: console on serial port (Q&A)

Frank Lenaerts lenaerts.frank at
Mon Mar 31 22:03:36 CEST 2003


While formulating a question to the list, I also found an answer to
this question. As I think it (a) might be usefull to others and (b)
might be interesting to incorporate (more generally then) into fai
itself, I decided to still post this one.

I am using FAI by booting from a floppy disk to install a system; this
means that, when the installation finishes, I have to remove the
floppy disk and press enter to reboot the newly installed system. This
in turn means that I have to have a locally attached monitor (to know
when the installation is finished) and keyboard (to press enter).

As I also configure the console on a serial port when installing a
system, I was wondering how I could get the console on the serial port
when booting from the floppy disk; this would make that I do not have
to have a locally attached monitor and keyboard anymore.

A console on the serial port for the boot floppy can be configured
just as described in the remote serial console HOWTO. Mapped to FAI,
for a console on the second serial port, this means that:

1. You edit /usr/sbin/make-fai-bootfloppy to incorporate a few extra
   things in lilo.conf (which is not in the NFS root):

   - Configure the boot loader to use the serial line: serial=1,9600n8
   - Configure the kernel to use the serial line by extending the
     append line: append="... console=ttyS1,9600n8"

2. You edit /usr/lib/fai/nfsroot/etc/inittab on the FAI server to
   spawn a getty on the serial line i.e. uncomment the "T1:" line.

3. You edit /usr/lib/fai/nfsroot/etc/securetty on the FAI server to
   allow root to login via the serial line i.e. add ttyS1 (and/or

To test it, just create a new FAI bootdisk using the modified
make-fai-bootfloppy, put it in an install client, connect a null modem
cable from another host (e.g. the FAI server) to the serial port of
the client and boot the client. You can now follow the installation
procedure via the serial port. As usual, you get the message to remove
the floppy after the installation, and to press enter to reboot the
newly installed system. 

lenaerts.frank at

Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly."
-- Henry Spencer

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