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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Living with Linux on the Laptop: Terminal Emulation

Obviously, if I’m teaching a Cisco class, I need console access to the devices (in this case ASA 5505 firewalls). If you’re not familiar with how to manage Cisco devices, it’s traditionally done by connecting a console cable to an RJ45 connector on the Cisco box and the other end to a DB9 serial connector on one of your PC’s com ports. Problem is that most laptops today don’t have serial ports on them, so you have to use a USB-to-Serial adapter. The cheapest one I could find was an Airlink 101 adapter. I wondered about drivers and compatibility (of course, the Airlink site had nothing in the way of support for doing this under Linux). I plugged it in and ran the command less /etc/sysconfig/hwconf to see if Linux would recognize it and it did! (Linux actually recognized it as a Prolific Technology Inc. USB-Serial Controller.) So, now the challenge is figuring our exactly how Linux sees it within the file system. I did an ls /dev/tty* command and sure enough, there was /dev/ttyUSB0. I configured minicom to use that as its serial device and it worked. This is the kind of stuff that makes IT fun. (If you agree, then you get it. If you’re rolling your eyes, IT ain’t for you!)

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