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How do I setup and use a serial console on elementary OS?

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I like using the Parallax USB to serial adapter because it enjoys good support on *NIX operating systems. You can pick them up in the robotics section at Frys electronics in the U.S. for around $17.

After connecting the adapter, run dmesg, you're looking for a few lines at the end like so:

[ 2970.548809] usb 2-1: Detected FT232RL
[ 2970.551218] usb 2-1: FTDI USB Serial Device converter now attached to ttyUSB0

Note the device name 'ttyUSB0'. Run a long list on this to determine which group it is owned by;

$ ls -l /dev/ttyUSB0
crw-rw---- 1 root dialout 188, 0 Apr  8 09:24 /dev/ttyUSB0

Add your user account to that group. This way you can run the terminal program as a non-root user.

sudo gpasswd -u <username> dialout

Log out and back in for the group change to take effect

Install the picocom terminal utility

sudo apt-get install -y picocom

Connect to the serial console using the appropriate baud rate for your target device and the device name as shown in dmesg earlier

picocom -b 38400 /dev/ttyUSB0

To exit picocom press CTRL-a-x

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