I've found lots of tutorials for using a Mac to control a serial device, but not the other way around. I've got a DEC VT520 terminal and a recent Mac Pro, is there a way (with a USB adapter) to get a shell on my Mac from a hardware serial console? Basically I'm looking for an OS X version of the "Ubuntu Serial Console HowTo". Or is this so ridiculous that no one has tried it?


I have not tried this, personally, but there are good instructions for doing so with a Tripp Lite (née Keyspan) USB-to-Serial adapter and an Apple IIc. Obviously, you can ignore the Apple II-specific parts of the instructions (the majority of the article) and focus on the adapter, the cable, and getting ttys to run getty.

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I've had quite a fondness for the SitePlayer Telnet module for some time, as and it really complements the OS X environment as well. It costs a bit more than a simple DB-9 or DB-9 -> USB cable does, but it offers a great advantage.

You simply set up the module with network information you will use to access it, and the serial parameters for it's serial connection. Then, connect to it via it's defined network information, and you have yourself a serial connection to the server it's plugged into.

Even cooler? The module announces itself via Bonjour so you know if it's "alive" and what it's connection information is.

It's really a great alternative to having to pull copper for Networking, and cabling additionally for serial management/connectivity.

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I use ZTerm along with a Keyspan adapter to provide serial console support on my MacBook Pro.


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  • The OP wants to use the DEC VT520 as a terminal client of the Mac (driving a shell session on the Mac, from the DEC), so ZTerm is the wrong solution (although it's a great serial/telnet client for the Mac). – morgant Jul 13 '11 at 22:57

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