MOS-SC - Serial Console via Mac OS
So what is a serial console? Chances are that if you have to ask, you'll have no need for this page.
A serial console is where the console (the terminal physically connected to the machine) is run over a serial (i.e. RS-232/EIA-232)
connection rather than using a keyboard/monitor. Many datacenter-range servers (e.g. the Sun
Netra range) use serial consoles as opposed to a framebuffer. The same thing applies for networking devices such as routers and switches.
You may be wondering why the hell you'd want to do such a thing like run a Mac as a serial terminal.
- To use an older Mac (e.g. a Mac Plus) as a fully-functional serial console. Save money on dumb terminals! Recycle that old kit!
- To use a newer Mac (especially a laptop) as a temporary serial console when working (for example) at a customer site.
- You really liked the clickety-clacky keyboards on the Mac Plus and it'd be a shame to waste it...
Wild Assumptions made by the Authors
- That you know what you are connecting your Mac to and what kind of connection it needs.
- That you have the right cables.
- That you can perform the oh-so technical task of copying files to a floppy disk!
- That the device you are connecting to will accept serial connections.
- That the moon is not made out of swiss cheese.
Choose your OS!
Classic Mac OS (Without USB)
These instructions apply to users of older Macs - typically running Mac OS 8.x or lower, with ADB
and using the mini-DIN serial connectors.
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25D Male <---> Mac serial (mini - DIN)
In this setup, the Mac serial cable was originally used to connect a modem to the Mac. Combined with a
regular null-modem cable, it can be used to connect to another machine.
9D Female <---> 25D Female null-modem cable
Bootable Serial Console Disk 800k
By using this disk, you can turn a machine even as old as a 1MB Mac Plus into a serial console.
The disk is distributed as a .sit.hqx and consists of the following:
To use this disk, simply copy the contents of the unstuffed folder to a floppy disk, bearing in mind
that the Mac Plus can only read 800K (Double Density) disks. See the README file in the unstuffed
archive for more information.
- ZTerm 0.9
- Skeleton Mac OS 6.0.3
A copy of the original ZTerm 0.9 distriution can be found under downloads, together with the
disk archive. ZTerm 0.9 is only used here as it is reasonably compact and will fit onto an 800K floppy disk.
The contents of the bootable 800k floppy
ZTerm running on the Mac Plus
Pine under ZTerm running on the Mac Plus
Mac OS X / Mac OS 9.x (With USB)
The first thing you'll need to get is a USB->Serial adaptor. The ones we use are made by
Keyspan and we use the
PDA Adaptor. This supports speeds of up to 115200bps, which is more than adequate as most serial terminals operate
Drivers for both OS X and OS 9.x can be found at http://www.keyspan.com/downloads/
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Keyspan USB <---> 9D Male Serial adaptor
As with the Classic OS setup, these cables are connected back to back to allow a null-modem connection to be made to the remote machine.
9D Female <---> 9D Female null-modem cable
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Jon Still & Alice Conrad
Classic Mac icon from The Iconfactory's World Of Aqua collection. Used by
Apple, Macintosh etc are trademarks of Apple Computer Inc,