How To Check and Use Serial Ports Under Linux

How do I check and configure serial ports under Linux for various purposes such as modem, connecting null modems or connect a dumb terminal?

Linux offers various tools. Linux uses ttySx for a serial port device name. For example, COM1 (DOS/Windows name) is ttyS0, COM2 is ttyS1 and so on.

Task: Display Detected System’s Serial Support

Simple run dmesg command
$ dmesg | grep tty

[   37.531286] serial8250: ttyS0 at I/O 0x3f8 (irq = 4) is a 16550A
[   37.531841] 00:0b: ttyS0 at I/O 0x3f8 (irq = 4) is a 16550A
[   37.532138] 0000:04:00.3: ttyS1 at I/O 0x1020 (irq = 18) is a 16550A

setserial command

setserial is a program designed to set and/or report the configuration information associated with a serial port. This information includes what I/O port and IRQ a particular serial port is using, and whether or not the break key should be interpreted as the Secure Attention Key, and so on. Just type the following command:
$ setserial -g /dev/ttyS[0123]

/dev/ttyS0, UART: 16550A, Port: 0x03f8, IRQ: 4
/dev/ttyS1, UART: 16550A, Port: 0x1020, IRQ: 18
/dev/ttyS2, UART: unknown, Port: 0x03e8, IRQ: 4
/dev/ttyS3, UART: unknown, Port: 0x02e8, IRQ: 3

setserial with -g option help to find out what physical serial ports your Linux box has.

Linux serial console programs

Once serial ports identified you can configure Linux box using various utilities:

  1. minicom– The best friendly serial communication program for controlling modems and connecting to dump devices
  2. wvidial or other GUI dial up networking program – a PPP dialer with built-in intelligence.
  3. getty / agetty – agetty opens a tty port, prompts for a login name and invokes the /bin/login command.
  4. grub / lilo configuration – To configure serial port as the system console

Posted by: SXI ADMIN

The author is the creator of SXI LLC and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.