Will the Serial Console Ever Die?

Will the serial port as a console connection ever be displaced — especially for devices such as switches, routers, SAN boxes, etc.? In one sense it’s a simple connection. But it is the only current port that, in order to use, you need to know about wiring / baud rates / parity, etc. It has non-standard pinouts. And it is becoming too slow to upload firmware to dead devices, as the firmware updates get larger. Also, the serial port is rapidly disappearing from new laptops — which is where you often really need it, in data centers. Centronics, PS/2, and current loop are mostly defunct. Is there any sign on the horizon of a USB console connection?”

source: slashdot.org

This has been a question of my own for a while. There are lots of switches, routers, PDU’s and even servers where we use serial for direct connection. For the servers we use IPMI for remote console. This helps when the OS has died for some reason or we need to change BIOS settings. It’s certainly a nice and alreasy existing feature to have. But as the article states, the setup is more manual as far as configuring port speed and such as well as being really slow for todays standards.

I don’t know. I’m torn between a tried and true technology and moving forward with improved speed and standard connections. What do you guys think?

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  • This is why modern servers don't have a serial port anymore. If you look at a Sun rack mountable server for instance (or any other server that has lights-out management), it has an RJ45 console port instead of the 9-pin serial port. This is then plugged into a dedicated switch and on to a console server. This also allows you to manage the server when it's off.

    Otherwise, when it comes to using a laptop as a portable serial, I used to have a USB-to-serial adapter that allowed me to do exactly that.

  • ethana2

    *sigh*
    Everyone always looking for the serial killer.

  • USB *already is* being used as a way of getting into the system for debugging like Serial was in the past. http://www.coreboot.org/EHCI_Debug_Port