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Old 07-19-2007, 11:53 AM   #1
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Using laptop with headless server???

I have a few headless servers in my house running linux. When I first set them up I just hooked up a monitor and keyboard. When I need to administer them I use SSH. I'm wondering is it possible to use a laptop (with a serial cable or something) to administer a headless server? I'd like to be able to work directly on the headless servers with out having to drag out a monitor and keyboard.

Thanks for any advice. Oh, and this is my first post. This looks like a great forum with lost of knowledgeable people. I'm still kinda learning so this might be a great place for me to hang out at.
Old 07-19-2007, 01:47 PM   #2
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Welcome to LinuxQuestions.
Sure, Just google for serial console howto
Old 07-19-2007, 01:56 PM   #3
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Still, I'm wondering...what does a serial console offer that a simple SSH shell login doesn't?
Old 07-19-2007, 04:58 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by IsaacKuo
Still, I'm wondering...what does a serial console offer that a simple SSH shell login doesn't?
Well I was hoping I could do an install just like I had a key board and monitor attached. But now that I think about it, that won't work would it? I guess you need an OS to get the console first

Last edited by sundancekidster; 07-19-2007 at 04:59 PM.
Old 07-23-2007, 11:27 PM   #5
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You can do a serial console install of a Linux distro - I just did one last night, no monitor attached!

Slackware, for example, has been designed with this contingency in mind. When you boot off the CD you are immediately dropped into a LILO boot prompt (no timeout). All you have to type is the name of the kernel, and pass the console flag to the appropriate serial port:

For Slack < 12.0:

base.i console=ttyS0
For Slack >= 12.0:

hugesmp.s console=ttyS0
Unfortunately, you will need a keyboard to type that boot string. You could get around the keyboard requirement by making a custom bootdisk that by default uses the console=ttyS0 kernel append.

Hook the two computers up with a null modem cable (or a regular RS-232 cable with a null modem adapter), and then set up the receiving terminal at 9600bps, 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, RTS/CTS (hardware handshaking) flow control ON, software flow control OFF. Read the serial console HOWTO for more info on faster speeds, etc.

The installer environment then routes all console output to the serial port ttyS0 (otherwise known as "COM1") and drops you into a shell. Be aware that the new Slack 12.0's got some bugs in this area, though.

Once you are done installing the OS, you can configure LILO to output to the serial port, and don't forget to set up an inittab for the serial port (which allows root login), too!

- Rick


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