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USB-to-Serial console for Mac (OSX)

datePosted on 12:28, December 15th, 2007 by Many Ayromlou

Here are some notes for those of us working with Macs, who also have to deal with networking gear that usually have a serial console for local control. I recently purchased a IOGEARĀ USB 1.1 to Serial Converter Cable that uses the PL2303 chipset (pretty much any brand of these usb to serial converters use this chip). I was hoping that this dongle would allow me to access our network switches serial interface (which you kinda need when the switch has goneĀ berserk). So after looking around the net I found that there is a opensource driver out there for it and that it performs better than the driver provided by Prolific (the company that manufactures the chip). So once everything was installed I hooked up the serial cable and realized that I needed a serial console program.

This turned out to be quite a pain since almost all of these programs for the mac are old and/or not free. Well, that was until I found out that our good friend screen can do this just fine:

screen /dev/tty.PL2303-0000101D 9600
where /dev/tty.PL2303-0000101D is the device for the dongle (easy to find….just do a ls -l /dev/tty.* and pick the one with PL2303 in the name). The baudrate is 9600 in case you haven’t guessed it already.

This will open up a new screen session in your xterm/terminal and from there you can control your serial device. Once you’re done you need to issue the command Ctrl-a Ctrl-\ to get out of screen and back to your shell prompt.