Review: goSerial – Console Break for Network Devices on OSX

This is a quick look at a serial console program for Mac OSX. There are not many serial consoles programs available and I wanted to review this for my own use. I have blogged previously on using the Terminal to get a console at Serial Console on OSX but this option uses a dedicated program which is easier to use. The most important feature is that it supports the break character for interrupting the boot cycle for network devices such as Cisco IOS routers and ASA firewalls.

Download the software

Download the goSerial software from http://www.furrysoft.de/?page=goserial and install it in the usual manner. Connect the serial adapter.

The status bar shows the currently connected USB-Serial converter that is connected to my device.

Configure the serial port installed

Configue the serial port that you want the goSerial to use.

Select the correct Baud Rate

Success

And we have a connection to the serial console of an ASA.

You can save the session for future use.

Upload files

There isn’t any information on the upload mechanism so I can’t tell you if it supports X-Modem or not. But ti certainly looks like it.

Break Key

Sending a Break Character

The menu shows you that a break character uses this magic hand wave

And it works.

Wrapup

Ultimately, a serial console for a network engineer doesn’t need to do very much. goSerial does exactly what I need. I have looked at some commercial clients, but the cost is bit too high for the occasional use that I needed. Combine this tool with it’s ability to issue the break character to get ROMMON access to network equipment, and use the terminal with ‘screen’ for most other console access might be an excellent balance.

I would be very keen to hear about your experience. I had goSerial crash a couple of times, but since I was plugging the USB in/out and had screen running (and other things), I don’t think that is the software but my testing.

About Greg Ferro

Greg Ferro is a Network Engineer/Architect, mostly focussed on Data Centre, Security Infrastructure, and recently Virtualization. He has over 20 years in IT, in wide range of employers working as a freelance consultant including Finance, Service Providers and Online Companies. He is CCIE#6920 and has a few ideas about the world, but not enough to really count.

He is a host on the Packet Pushers Podcast, blogger at EtherealMind.com and on Twitter @etherealmind and Google Plus

You can contact Greg via the site contact page.

  • Dmitri Kalintsev

    Hi Greg,

    Very interesting, thanks! One question, though: I was under the impression that the ability to send break was dependent on the chipset of your USB-Serial adapter, rather than on the terminal software. You can send break in Terminal/screen combo, by pressing C-a C-b, which works but only with those USB-Serial adapters that have that functionality (to hold the TX down). Did you use this method before you found the goSerial?

    • ChazH

      Dmitri – Can you expound on the C-a C-b process? Are you saying that this is a repeated key sequence you could send? Perhaps this could be put into a keyboard macro/shortcut to send this repeatedly?

  • http://communitystring.com Bradley Freeman

    I use ZTerm as my retro console program of choice for Mac OSX, as you say it doesn’t need to do alot apart from send break and keep a reasonable buffer. I just looked up the ZTerm licence and only just noticed that its shareware with paid registration, I didn’t realise this so feel a bit dirty for using something with a shareware licence which I didn’t pay for… I like the look of goSerial and will give it a run as ZTerm is not the most usable client.

  • TriniFOX

    @Greg et al,

    What USB to serial do you use? I have the IOgear.

    TF

  • http://www.the-evangelist.info The Evangelist

    Hi,

    I use since many years ago “minicom” as i come from unix enviroments.

    In OSX “sudo port install minicom”

    • http://sabotage-networks.blogspot.com Matt B

      Another happy minicom user here for many years.

      I like the look of this though, can do everything I need (logging/xmodem/break), nice find Greg.

  • John

    Another alternate to try is one called CoolTerm

  • Jeremy

    If you don’t mind paying for software then you might be interested in SecureCRT for MAC OSX. I use it for my work windows machine and still think it is the best on the market.

    http://www.vandyke.com/products/beta/securecrt/mac_osx.html

    I don’t work for them – this is an honest viewpoint.

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