RS232 Dumb Terminals = a painful Blast from the Past
nagger 100000MRSJ Comments (2) Visits (14543)
Normally I recommended to go virtual:
But if you must go commando!
But some what to ignore those benefits and just run the whole machine as a stand alone box running one Linux.
To do this you need to attach what I call a dumb terminal to boot the box, set some low level configuration and then boot off the DVD or network.
In the good old days, every descent system admin had a dumb screen and cables and were "good to go" at a moments notice but things have changed.
Dumb terminals are increasingly rare - we have two in my computer room but then I have been around a long time and refuse to junk them. I actually used one many years ago as programmer and wrote all the code and tested on a dumb screen. Yes, I am that old. Heck they phased out punch cards at my university the summer after I left. Actually, nmon was developed on a dumb screen and still has 80 columns as a result - it will widen if you have a wider windows! Also in benchmarks we never used a graphics screen - oh no - that took far to many CPU cycles from the main CPUs.
When sending out a small Power server we don't want to also send a terminal
Next up, we could use a Laptop ... Hmmmm!!
To get the comms out of the Power Server you need a special dongle like this:
If you can't find one of these - you have a big problem. Start looking though that massive pie of bits IBM sends with its Servers - you may find you have a dozen of them! The label on mine says "IBM P/N 46K5108 - EC L36908" but there is probably many other part numbers across the world that are equally good.
Next for your Laptop, you need a RSR232 to USB cable and there is a problem.
Then you will notice you have two male plugs on the Dongle and USB converter cable - so you need a full spec female to female cable and a couple of metres / yards long too. We used this 2 M cable.
So you join all three together and you have Dongle to RS232 to Laptop USB - job done right???
I plugged this in both the Power Server and my Windows 7 laptop and "ping pong" Windows plug and play was fine with the USB cable so I went to start up Windows HyperTerminal .... You know what comes next, right? I can't find it and search and search. Tried Windows Help and it says HyperTerminal is not longer shipped in Windows 7 - why not try telnet! Thanks a bunch Microsoft.
By the way I tried HyperTerminal on a Windows XP laptop - when you get to installing Linux and it draws boxes on the screen all hell breaks out. So even if you have HyperTerminal its rubbish - sorry but that's what I find!
OK I was told Putty can do Serial - well it appears that this is no longer the case. There is an option I select the COM port and then the OK button just say "no". If you know what I did wrong, please let me know - I love my putty.
So we have a good cable and no terminal emulator for a RS232 COM port. Open Source to the rescue yet again for Windows lack of functionality!
Enter TeraTerm = http
* * * FLAME SUIT ON * * *
Download it BUT CAREFULLY - there is a mine field of normal Download buttons that will not get you the software you want to download. This seems to be an increasing problem. No you don't want that PDF Converter, no you don't want the PC turbo-boost virus infected garbage, no you don't want to buy a car in Japan and no thanks to the [[ISP name removed]] offer of free Internet for 30 seconds and a life time of triple prices!!!
* * * FLAME OFF * * *
Tera Term downloads and installs in 1 minute then just loads and just works:
So now you have a fully working "dumb Terminal" - only took two days - when 10 years ago it would take 2 minutes.
Note: with a Power Server you have to log in before you get to BIOS like menus - this is a Server and we don't let any old hacker play with these settings - you do remember the admin users password - right!!
If I fiddle about like trying an alternative emulator or change a cable it just stops working and I really mean STOP = Nothing, Can't even go back to the old working setup.
Well I hope this helps some one out there faced with similar problems, Cheers till next time, Nigel Griffiths