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.. _serial_console:
Linux Serial Console
To use a serial port as console you need to compile the support into your
kernel - by default it is not compiled in. For PC style serial ports
it's the config option next to menu option:
:menuselection:`Character devices --> Serial drivers --> 8250/16550 and compatible serial support --> Console on 8250/16550 and compatible serial port`
You must compile serial support into the kernel and not as a module.
It is possible to specify multiple devices for console output. You can
define a new kernel command line option to select which device(s) to
use for console output.
The format of this option is::
device: tty0 for the foreground virtual console
ttyX for any other virtual console
ttySx for a serial port
lp0 for the first parallel port
ttyUSB0 for the first USB serial device
options: depend on the driver. For the serial port this
defines the baudrate/parity/bits/flow control of
the port, in the format BBBBPNF, where BBBB is the
speed, P is parity (n/o/e), N is number of bits,
and F is flow control ('r' for RTS). Default is
9600n8. The maximum baudrate is 115200.
You can specify multiple console= options on the kernel command line.
The behavior is well defined when each device type is mentioned only once.
In this case, the output will appear on all requested consoles. And
the last device will be used when you open ``/dev/console``.
So, for example::
console=ttyS1,9600 console=tty0
defines that opening ``/dev/console`` will get you the current foreground
virtual console, and kernel messages will appear on both the VGA
console and the 2nd serial port (ttyS1 or COM2) at 9600 baud.
The behavior is more complicated when the same device type is defined more
times. In this case, there are the following two rules:
1. The output will appear only on the first device of each defined type.
2. ``/dev/console`` will be associated with the first registered device.
Where the registration order depends on how kernel initializes various
This rule is used also when the last console= parameter is not used
for other reasons. For example, because of a typo or because
the hardware is not available.
The result might be surprising. For example, the following two command
lines have the same result::
console=ttyS1,9600 console=tty0 console=tty1
console=tty0 console=ttyS1,9600 console=tty1
The kernel messages are printed only on ``tty0`` and ``ttyS1``. And
``/dev/console`` gets associated with ``tty0``. It is because kernel
tries to register graphical consoles before serial ones. It does it
because of the default behavior when no console device is specified,
see below.
Note that the last ``console=tty1`` parameter still makes a difference.
The kernel command line is used also by systemd. It would use the last
defined ``tty1`` as the login console.
If no console device is specified, the first device found capable of
acting as a system console will be used. At this time, the system
first looks for a VGA card and then for a serial port. So if you don't
have a VGA card in your system the first serial port will automatically
become the console.
You will need to create a new device to use ``/dev/console``. The official
``/dev/console`` is now character device 5,1.
(You can also use a network device as a console. See
``Documentation/networking/netconsole.rst`` for information on that.)
Here's an example that will use ``/dev/ttyS1`` (COM2) as the console.
Replace the sample values as needed.
1. Create ``/dev/console`` (real console) and ``/dev/tty0`` (master virtual
cd /dev
rm -f console tty0
mknod -m 622 console c 5 1
mknod -m 622 tty0 c 4 0
2. LILO can also take input from a serial device. This is a very
useful option. To tell LILO to use the serial port:
In lilo.conf (global section)::
serial = 1,9600n8 (ttyS1, 9600 bd, no parity, 8 bits)
3. Adjust to kernel flags for the new kernel,
again in lilo.conf (kernel section)::
append = "console=ttyS1,9600"
4. Make sure a getty runs on the serial port so that you can login to
it once the system is done booting. This is done by adding a line
like this to ``/etc/inittab`` (exact syntax depends on your getty)::
S1:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -L ttyS1 9600 vt100
5. Init and ``/etc/``
Sysvinit remembers its stty settings in a file in ``/etc``, called
``/etc/``. REMOVE THIS FILE before using the serial
console for the first time, because otherwise init will probably
set the baudrate to 38400 (baudrate of the virtual console).
6. ``/dev/console`` and X
Programs that want to do something with the virtual console usually
open ``/dev/console``. If you have created the new ``/dev/console`` device,
and your console is NOT the virtual console some programs will fail.
Those are programs that want to access the VT interface, and use
``/dev/console instead of /dev/tty0``. Some of those programs are::
Xfree86, svgalib, gpm, SVGATextMode
It should be fixed in modern versions of these programs though.
Note that if you boot without a ``console=`` option (or with
``console=/dev/tty0``), ``/dev/console`` is the same as ``/dev/tty0``.
In that case everything will still work.
7. Thanks
Thanks to Geert Uytterhoeven <>
for porting the patches from 2.1.4x to 2.1.6x for taking care of
the integration of these patches into m68k, ppc and alpha.
Miquel van Smoorenburg <>, 11-Jun-2000