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Setup a USB Null Modem for Kernel Dump Captures

We will setup a serial null modem cable for administering and connecting to a physical machine via another in the event that:  

1) We want to capture kernel crashes and dumps.  
2) Login to the machine machine remotely via another linux box to do things like restart the network.  

For this we will need:  

1) One of DB9 RS232 Serial Null Modem Cable F/F
2) Two of USB to RS232 Serial Port DB9 9 Pin Male

Connect the USB to Serial Adapter to both systems.  Following it set the tty specifc settings on ttyUSB0:

6889  stty -F /dev/ttyUSB0 115200 cs8 -cstopb -parenb
6890  stty -F /dev/ttyUSB0 -a


Test the serial connection by running the following:

6894  /sbin/agetty -L 115200 ttyUSB0

Use minicom from the connecting linux host.  When test running /sbin/agetty -L 115200 ttyUSB0, you should see a prompt:

[root@rfc1178-01 ~]# minicom

Welcome to minicom 2.6.2

Compiled on Jun 25 2013, 10:33:48.
Port /dev/ttyUSB0, 11:30:08

Press CTRL-A Z for help on special keys

Scientific Linux release 6.10 (Carbon)
Kernel 4.18.19 on an x86_64

mbpc-pc login: root
Last login: Fri Apr 19 12:51:19 from
0;root@mbpc-pc:~[root@mbpc-pc ~]#
0;root@mbpc-pc:~[root@mbpc-pc ~]#
0;root@mbpc-pc:~[root@mbpc-pc ~]#
0;root@mbpc-pc:~[root@mbpc-pc ~]# uptime
 13:03:19 up 14 min,  1 user,  load average: 0.06, 0.13, 0.18
0;root@mbpc-pc:~[root@mbpc-pc ~]#


You should be able to login as above confirming the physical layer (USB to Serial -> Null Modem Female-to-Female -> Serial to USB) functions correctly and root is allowed to login.  Configure the kernel to send messages on the tty:

title Scientific Linux (4.18.19)
        root (hd0,0)
        kernel /vmlinuz-4.18.19 ro root=/dev/mapper/mbpcvg-rootlv rd_LVM_LV=mbpcvg/rootlv rd_LVM_LV=VGEntertain/olv_swap rd_LVM_LV=mbpcvg/swaplv rd_NO_LUKS rd_NO_MD rd_NO_DM LANG=en_US.UTF-8 SYSFONT=latarcyrheb-sun16 KEYBOARDTYPE=pc KEYTABLE=us rhgb nomodeset irqpoll pcie_aspm=off amd_iommu=on crashkernel=0M-2G:128M,2G-6G:256M,6G-8G:512M,8G-:768M pci=nomsi nohpet clocksource=rtc console=ttyUSB0,115200n8 console=tty0


[root@mbpc-pc ~]# cat /etc/securetty |grep USB
[root@mbpc-pc ~]# cat /etc/init/ttyUSB0.conf
# ttyUSB0 – agetty
# This service maintains a agetty on ttyUSB0.

stop on runlevel [S06]
start on runlevel [12435]

exec agetty -L /dev/ttyUSB0 115200
[root@mbpc-pc ~]#


Configure the minicom settings on the external host (CTRL – A, followed by Z.  Look for option cOnfigure Minicom..O or directly using CTRL – A followed by O):

| Filenames and paths      |
| File transfer protocols  |
| Serial port setup        |
| Modem and dialing        |
| Screen and keyboard      |
| Save setup as dfl        |
| Save setup as..          |
| Exit                     |

Followed by the settings below:

| A –    Serial Device      : /dev/ttyUSB0                              |
|                                                                       |
| C –   Callin Program      :                                           |
| D –  Callout Program      :                                           |
| E –    Bps/Par/Bits       : 115200 8N1                                |
| F – Hardware Flow Control : No                                        |
| G – Software Flow Control : Yes                                       |
|                                                                       |
|    Change which setting?                                              |

Hit ESC when done and save the configuration:

| Save setup as dfl        |

Restart the server to ensure changes take effect.  You should now see messages from the minicom terminal on the secondary system:

Welcome to minicom 2.6.2

Compiled on Jun 25 2013, 10:33:48.
Port /dev/ttyUSB0, 12:03:52

Press CTRL-A Z for help on special keys

Scientific Linux release 6.10 (Carbon)
Kernel 4.18.19 on an x86_64

mbpc-pc login:

Next, test restart with the console connected to see restart messages being printed:

Linux version 4.18.19 (root@mbpc-pc) (gcc version 4.4.7 201209
Command line: ro root=/dev/mapper/mbpcvg-rootlv rd_LVM_LV=mbpcvg/rootlv rd_LVM_8
x86/fpu: x87 FPU will use FXSAVE
BIOS-provided physical RAM map:
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x0000000000000000-0x0000000000093fff] usable
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x000000000009f800-0x000000000009ffff] reserved
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x00000000000f0000-0x00000000000fffff] reserved
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x0000000000100000-0x00000000dfceffff] usable
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x00000000dfcf0000-0x00000000dfcf0fff] ACPI NVS
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x00000000dfcf1000-0x00000000dfcfffff] ACPI data
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x00000000dfd00000-0x00000000dfdfffff] reserved
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x00000000e0000000-0x00000000efffffff] reserved
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x00000000fec00000-0x00000000ffffffff] reserved
BIOS-e820: [mem 0x0000000100000000-0x000000011fffffff] usable
NX (Execute Disable) protection: active
SMBIOS 2.4 present.
DMI: Gigabyte Technology Co., Ltd. GA-890XA-UD3/GA-890XA-UD3, BIOS FC 08/02/2010
AGP: No AGP bridge found


Testing can be done using this:

[root@mbpc-pc cores]# echo "This is a ttyUSB0 test from mbpc-pc." > /dev/ttyUSB0
[root@mbpc-pc cores]#


Result on the console is:

[root@mbpc-pc ~]# This is a ttyUSB0 test from mbpc-pc.
CTRL-A Z for help |115200 8N1 | NOR | Minicom 2.6.2  | VT102 | Online 08:12


If you get a prompt but no kernel messages, ensure you compile the following options into the kernel:


You can find the above in the make menuconfig driver sections.  You can find the above by pressing forward slash ( / ) followed by the search string CONFIG_USB_SERIAL which will give you the path of the option:

  |   Location:                                               |
  |     -> Device Drivers                                     |
  |       -> USB support (USB_SUPPORT [=y])                   |
  |         -> USB Serial Converter support (USB_SERIAL [=y]) |


If you get kernel messages but no prompt (after enabling additional kernel parameters above) then try adding the following additional parameters:

[root@mbpc-pc linux-4.18.19]# cat /etc/init/ttyUSB0.conf
# ttyUSB0 – agetty
# This service maintains a agetty on ttyUSB0.

stop on runlevel [S06] and (
            not-container or
            container CONTAINER=lxc or
            container CONTAINER=lxc-libvirt)

start on runlevel [12435]

exec agetty -L /dev/ttyUSB0 115200 vt100
[root@mbpc-pc linux-4.18.19]#


However for us it was just a matter of restarting against since agetty didn't come up the first time.  If with the addition of the above items in green you now get a console, all is good and you should be all set to capture the kernel messages when crashes happen!

REF: https://wiki.freepbx.org/display/PC/Capturing+Kernel+Panic+via+Serial+Port


  Copyright © 2003 - 2013 Tom Kacperski (microdevsys.com). All rights reserved.

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