serial console for dummies?

Duane Whitty duane at
Sun Jan 29 19:08:08 PST 2006

Scott I. Remick wrote:
> Hello... I'm trying to set up a serial console for watching console error
> messages while in X, but am having a real hard time getting my head around
> the concepts of what I need to do (and don't need to).
> I've seen but
> I'm not clear about how much of that applies to what I want to do, since
> it talks about setting it up for a headless system (no keyboard or
> monitor) and actually instructs you to remove the keyboard. I've also
> searched the mailing list archives but I've read a lot of conflicting
> info, much of which for different uses of the serial console than what I
> want to use it for, and I've now read back so far that I can't even be
> certain that the suggestions apply to FreeBSD 6.0. Ugh
> So is there someone who can give me a hand-held walk-through of just what
> I need to do to make this work? I'm running FreeBSD 6.0-RELEASE and live
> in X (Gnome) all the time. My intention here is to be able to see console
> messages (Errors) so when something dies (like X locking, which happens
> sometimes) I have a chance to see what the heck happened. I have an old
> 486 laptop I intend to use as the "dumb terminal", as well as the
> necessary null modem cable. I just need to know what to configure on my
> FreeBSD box so that console errors are mirrored to the serial port. Thanks!
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Take a look at /etc/ttys.  It is pretty self-explanatory but you'll 
probably have to play around with what kind of terminal you want, i.e. 
vt100, vt220, cons25, etc.

My guess is you want

tty0    getty    (terminal type)     on     secure

Plug in your laptop to the serial port, restart init (man init) and see 
what happens

Best Regards,

Duane Whitty
duane at

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