BIOS & serial console support

Arwen
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:43 pm

BIOS & serial console support

Post by Arwen »

It would be nice to have serial console support built into the BIOS.

For example, I have both SysAdmin'ed & owned Sun / Oracle x86 servers that allow using a serial console, even the BIOS from the serial port. This has the advantage of remote maintenance. (Though with the fitlet I'd have to use one of my serial terminal servers to get network access).

Obviously this is a fitlet-i & fitlet-X feature only, (as the fitlet-b has no serial port).
Plus, it's really only useful for server or remote locations. Or where the video out is part of the application, like signage.
(How many times have YOU seen a computerized sign with MS-Windows' blue screen of death? Or booted to just desktop, no application running?)


I did something similar with my fit-PC1, (original model). Since it did not have serial console support in the BIOS, it was not active until Grub. Then Linux worked fine using the fit-PC1's serial port as a console.

If I had a problem with boot, or was activating a new boot environment, I could fix it remotely. (Meaning from my desk, or home office.) If I needed to make a BIOS change on that fit-PC1, it did require USB keyboard and video monitor.
Last edited by Arwen on Sat Apr 11, 2015 6:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Arwen Evenstar
Rivendale, Middle Earth

irads
Site Admin
Posts: 2366
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:11 pm

Re: BIOS & serial console support

Post by irads »

fitlet has serial console redirection in BIOS. I expect the described use case will be fully supported.
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Irad Stavi
Forum admin

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Arwen
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:43 pm

Re: BIOS & serial console support

Post by Arwen »

Thanks. That helps alot.
Arwen Evenstar
Rivendale, Middle Earth

Arwen
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:43 pm

Re: BIOS & serial console support

Post by Arwen »

My fitlet-iA10 arrived. At present I am using a video monitor and USB keyboard to test
and load some programs. (Or using SSH over the network port.)

However, I did check the BIOS and I did not see any options to enable serial access
to the BIOS. Usually it's got port option, 1 or 2, bit rate, (1200 -> 115200), parity
selections, and stop bits, 1 or 2.

At a minimum, I would expect support for the industry standard, (used by Cisco, Sun,
Oracle, HP, etc...), of;

9600,8n1

Though 115,200bps would be nice when having to deal with certain console recovery
procedures.
Arwen Evenstar
Rivendale, Middle Earth

irads
Site Admin
Posts: 2366
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:11 pm

Re: BIOS & serial console support

Post by irads »

BIOS serial console redirection will be enabled in a BIOS update in the near future.
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Irad Stavi
Forum admin

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Arwen
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:43 pm

Re: BIOS & serial console support

Post by Arwen »

For me, that should be fine.

It will take a few weeks for me to get the Linux software loaded. And I can even
setup Grub & Linux with the serial port before BIOS support.

If you want, I can test out the BIOS with serial port support when it's available for
usability. Should be straight forward for me to perform some testing. And I can give
my test setup, (which would be a Lantronix MSS-VIA dual port serial terminal server).
Arwen Evenstar
Rivendale, Middle Earth

irads
Site Admin
Posts: 2366
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:11 pm

Re: BIOS & serial console support

Post by irads »

Thanks, we will announce when a BIOS version with serial redirection is released.
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Irad Stavi
Forum admin

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Arwen
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:43 pm

Re: BIOS & serial console support

Post by Arwen »

Looks like Grub legacy, (0.97), and Grub 2.x doesn't find any serial ports.

Did you enable the the first serial port in the BIOS?

It appears that Grub needs to see BIOS calls for the serial port, before it can use the
serial port. (BIOS does stand for Basic Input / Ouput System...) Apparently your
company had done so in the BIOS for the old fit-PC1's serial port, because Grub
legacy worked fine.

For the next fitlet BIOS update, can you add that part?

I understand if the actual usage of the BIOS via the serial port would not be available
in the next BIOS release. That's harder to do. But simply activating the serial port in
the BIOS on the fitlet-i/x models would be helpful for Grub usage.

Thank you. I am quite pleased with my purchase so far.
Arwen Evenstar
Rivendale, Middle Earth


Arwen
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 10:43 pm

Re: BIOS & serial console support

Post by Arwen »

The prior BIOS update allowed Grub and the Linux kernel to work
with the serial port. And the latest fitlet BIOS update adds a bunch
more serial port configuration. But, it's not for the fitlet-H/T models.
The Wiki page actually says this;

For fitlet-B/i/iA10/X/XA10 models only

When will the fitlet-H model have the BIOS update with the serial
port support?

It's not urgent for me, as what I have allows Grub access as well as
Linux boot time messages. With my network terminal server, I get
remote access allowing me to backout any updates easily. BIOS access
via serial port would be nice if I have to change boot device temporarily.
Arwen Evenstar
Rivendale, Middle Earth

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