USB console or other alternatives

Doug Lee dgl at
Thu Apr 26 15:42:05 UTC 2007

On Thu, Apr 26, 2007 at 11:14:26AM -0400, Lowell Gilbert wrote:
> Doug Lee <dgl at> writes:
> > I'm one of these guys running FreeBSD 4.11 on very old hardware (a
> > Pentium 166, specifically), and I want to upgrade to FreeBSD 6 or 7
> > soon but with new hardware.  Being blind, I need to use something
> > other than the video card for a console.  I've been using a serial
> > console for a long time, but serial ports are getting scarce.  I need
> > the console to become active during the boot sequence in case of
> > problems, as it can with a serial console.  As I did with FreeBSD 3
> > and 4, I will also want to activate this console during FreeBSD
> > installation if possible, so I don't have to have someone else be here
> > when I install it.
> >
> > Can modern hardware and a modern FreeBSD version provide console
> > access before the kernel loads via USB or via anything other than an
> > actual on-board or PCI serial port?

> I am not sure, but I would expect that you would need BIOS support for
> something like that.  Personally, I would stick with serial ports as
> long as possible, because they are much more simple than any
> alternatives.  

More simple once found at least. :-)

> What do you hook up to that serial port, anyway?

A desktop Windows machine with a serial port, until said machine
suddenly ceased to function entirely.  Now it would be a laptop
with a USB-to-serial adapter except the one I bought also seems
unwilling to function.  I tend to run short of PCMCIA slots for
such things on my laptop, my one-and-only PCMCIA slot being occupied
pretty permanently by an EVDO card.

Sounds like I'll need a *functional* USB-to-serial adapter on the
laptop end, an actual serial port on whatever new box of parts ends up
running FreeBSD 6/7, and my old trusty null modem conglomerate of cable
and adapters.  I guess I'll collect recommendations for a good
USB-to-serial adapter.  I've seen prices range from around $30 to
around $120.00 if memory serves, and the last one I bought was closer
to the former.

Doug Lee                 dgl at        
SSB + BART Group         doug.lee at
"A mailing list is a crude but effective cross between a
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