Good Serial Terminal App

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by guzhogi, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. guzhogi macrumors 68030

    guzhogi

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    #1
    I'm starting my career in networking configuration (basically configuring routers & switches) and need advice on a good serial terminal app. Since Terminal that ships w/ Mac OS X doesn't deal w/ serial ports, I've had to resort to using apps like Zterm & QuickTerm. Both of those haven't been updated in years, and they don't really have a "Mac OS X"-ey GUI goodness about them. Any suggestions?
     
  2. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #2
    There aren't a lot of options for terminal emulators because it isn't 1989 anymore. Emulators that are capable of serial line communication are few and far between because most are now TCP/IP-exclusive.

    Your options for free terminal emulators that can communicate via RS-232 (serial line) are extremely limited. If you are willing to pay, then there are options.
    • MacWise emulates just about every model terminal on the planet. At $95 for a single-user license, it is the terminal emulator that I use.
    • ZOC appears to be a very capable terminal emulator. It comes in both MacOS X and Windows versions. The emulator appears to be worth its $99.99 price.
    • SyncTERM is free! That's the good news. Some users praise its handling of ANSI graphics. That's the better news. The UI looks like the best circa 1983 terminal emulator you ever saw. That's the bad news.
    • Telconi Terminal is specifically targeted toward network administrators who need to configure switches and routers. At €275 for a single-user license, it is the high-priced spread.
     
  3. Splum macrumors newbie

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    #3
    I need serial connections too, can anyone recommend a good USB->Serial Adapter (I already wasted money one one which was supposed to have Mac drivers, but neither ZOC Terminal Emulator nor SyncTerm Terminal Emulator were able to use it (it appears it does not have a PL2303 chip as advertised ... I am using the PL2303 drivers from sourceforge).

    I'd preferably like one that works with ZOC (btw, they seem to have lowered the price ... it's $79.99 now not $99.99 as MrMe said above).

    Thx
     
  4. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #4
    I don't know if you have ever before used RS-232 serial communications. If you have, then you know that serial communications can be something of a black art. If I understand correctly, then PL2303 deals with the line between the computer and the device under control. My dealing with Serial2USB is that it is a black box. It does not, however, deal with the device that you want to control. It is not at all uncommon for an RS-232 to require customization before it can be used to communicate with a specific device. There even serial adapters that can route the signals for you and eliminate the need for a wire-cutters and a soldering iron.

    Generally, the documentation for your serial device will include a diagram of the serial port and its proper settings. Take things from there.
     
  5. CylonGlitch macrumors 68030

    CylonGlitch

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    #5
    USB to Serial drivers work quite well as long as their drivers are supported in the OS that you are using. I current use one in a product my company sells and it does a dandy job in Windows but kinda stinks for linux and mac.

    How they work is simple, the driver makes it look like a standard communications port. The code is designed to mimmic it, and all the settings. Then it takes the raw data and sends it to the chip via USB. The chip then takes the data, buffers it, and shifts it out serially either with flow control or without. The same is all true in the reverse direction.

    Now, there are some problems. The first is latency. The USB bus has some latency issues that can cause the USB devices to hick up. Acquisition of the USB bus can take as long as 50us, and that's a long time. Since every access has to go across this bus and serial is bursty at best, it can mean that data stutters on the output side. Additionally if the bus is busy, receiving data could end up overflowing the internal buffers of the chip and cause data loss.

    BUT that all being said, they work but under some conditions they don't work prefectly. The PL2303 is produced by a Taiwanese company, but has been used very successfully and is a decent product. CP2103 is made by Silicon Labs and is good, but the drivers have been known to be buggy. And then there are the ones from FTDIChip that are by far the best on the market.

    There are the drivers for the PL2303 that you found. FTDIChip has OSX drivers as well. You can get the PL2303 from the RadioShack USB to Serial adaptors. These things are cheap, about $20.
     
  6. f2002q macrumors newbie

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    #6
    VanDyke Software now offers a version of SecureCRT for OS X. Looks really cool especially since it works just like the Windows version, so I don't have to learn a new terminal emulation software. It's priced at 99 dollars, though

    SecureCRT for OS X
     
  7. dyn macrumors 68030

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    #7
    It's an old thread but it's hard to believe no one has even mentioned the built-in serial tool called screen! You need Terminal for this app (but that is quite common in networking). A better one would be minicom which also allows for uploads and downloads (save a config or flash some device). You need to install it via macports (fink could be an option too). Not really a need for expensive software, the aforementioned tools are free (and one even comes with OS X).
     
  8. Argon21 macrumors member

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    #8
    It seems you are not familiar with high-end hardwares. Many brand new 2010 devices such as Cisco Routers and UNIX servers use RS232 serial port for their local console. Most serious enterprise hardware is like this. We have brand new HP-UX server, brand new 2010 model, with price more than $300,000. It has 16 Itanium2 processors and 512 GB of RAM. The local console on it is RS232 serial. :)
     
  9. sinned72 macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Regarding screen and minicom, as awesome as they are, I would much prefer a real OS X application that is well integrated with the operating system.

    I have managed Sun gear for the better part of the last decade and I have found great use of both minicom, screen and tip for remote text consoles (that is I log in to a remote host with ssh and use a the direct console connection it has to the host I am interested in.)

    When I am using my laptop in the data center having a better, os integrated app is just nicer than arcane key combination (especially break sequences which are a special type of learning curve I discovered) to get stuff done and the like.

    I have found while Zterm has not been updated in eons it has not really needed it since the functions it needs to perform have not really changed in the last 10 years, all those dialup days when every year a new standard for communications came out - v.32bis, KFlex, X2, v.90, Kermit, Xmodem, Ymodem, Zmodem, SLIP, CSLIP, PPP (admittedly those are used for different things.)

    Having said all that though, Zterm is a PPC app which mean with Lion removeing Rosetta I will need a new app now ;-)

    Cheers.
     
  10. RoadKill macrumors member

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    #10
    Zterm is great but as you say old and not an intel app

    I have it installed as well as goSerial but am interested in other recommendations :)
     
  11. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #11
    Read Post No. 2 of this thread.
     
  12. Rockfish macrumors newbie

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  13. dyn macrumors 68030

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    #13
    What kind of integration are you talking about specifically? You might want to try out iTerm2 instead of Terminal (since you were also talking about things like break sequences and such) or even a completely different shell (csh instead of bash, just to name one).
     
  14. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #14
    The OP specifically asked for a terminal emulator for a serial connection. iTerm2 is strictly TCP/IP. It does not do serial connections. Also, it is not compatible with Snow Leopard.
     
  15. sinned72, May 2, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2011

    sinned72 macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Mostly the simple things like the applications is visible to Finder to Cmd+Tab or kill if the serial bus if hangs. Dialog box type configuration options for baud rate, flow control and the like so I do not need to kill the screen and launch a new with the specific command options I need.

    Coolterm is neat however for my particular purpose it does not fit as I am in need of the terminal emulation (systems and network gear are providing the same type of session you get if you telnet or ssh in to the host device, generally)

    As I said, screen and minicom are great however unless you use them everyday or at least very frequently and have need of using the various options/commands/whatever regularly it is very easy to forget how to do something and having a GUI interface just means you do not have to remember/memorize these minor items.

    Thanks for the heads up on iTerm 2, I had no idea it was out there/worked on/etc and I had noticed that iTerm itself has been update free for a fairly lengthy time now.

    Dennis

    Oh, and regarding Telconi Terminal:

    That is a very neat application however it is only for the very serious network organizations who have the money as a single license for 10 configured hosts is 275 euros, as I manage 20 to 30 pieces of network gear it would be over 1000 dollars Canadian based on the current exchange rates.

    It would be for those shops that are very much a Mac shop (which there probably many given OmniGraffle Pro is a very nice diagramming tool and way better than Visio in my opinion) already and have the spending capability for a solution like this. Alternatively, it could also be the one man network show and doing excellent business, as well I suppose.

    Cheers, Dennis
     
  16. RoadKill macrumors member

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    #16
    I still reckon give goSerial a try

    http://www.furrysoft.de/?page=goserial

    It's free and you can donate if you like it and proves very useful when I need to find my keyspan usb serial adaptor to password recover a Cisco router via rommon.

    The only thing that bugs me with goSerial is I haven't sussed out how to make it full screen but not that important, just my personal pref :)

    I'm still interested in hearing about other apps not already mentioned
     
  17. dyn macrumors 68030

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    #17
    It amazes me how much fail is only the first sentence of your reply. It shows that you haven't read anything in this topic nor have you read anything about iTerm2. The only thing you're doing is making a complete fool out of yourself.

    Start all over and read the posts this time. You'll see that iTerm2 was suggested as an alternative to Terminal, not for use with a serial connection. You'll see that screen is suggested for use with a serial connection (as well as many other tools). And finally you'd have read the first couple of sentences on the iTerm2 website stating that it will work properly with Leopard & Snow Leopard. I can acknowledge that it works since it runs properly on my Mac Pro 2010 and MBP 2010 which can only run Snow Leopard.

    To sum things up: FAIL!

    @sinned72: ah, those are good reasons for a native OS X GUI version of such an app. I'd like to see some features like that too but I can manage with screen in Terminal/iTerm2 (just have it open in 1 window so it is easy to access with Expose). Having the settings in a real GUI is nicer than how minicom does it (yes, it does have something that resembles a GUI). In Windows you had HyperTerminal and TeraTerm which I used. If there only were an OS X version of TeraTerm...
     
  18. pbrunnen macrumors newbie

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    #18
    Yea, I know the feeling... I am a bit attached to Zterm myself. :p

    I am actually a registered customer, so I have shot off an email to the developer about seeing if an Intel build might be released... or at least the source.

    Keeping my fingers crossed... :)

    -Cheers, Peter.
     
  19. RoadKill macrumors member

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    #19
  20. gr8tfly, Sep 8, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011

    gr8tfly macrumors 603

    gr8tfly

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    #20
    +1 on ZTerm

    It was on my pre-Lion checklist for compatibility (weeding out PPC and 32-bit kexts) and was pleasantly surprised to find it had been updated to universal binary.

    Edit: Slightly OT - There are 64-bit drivers (kexts) for both IOGEAR (and other PL-2303 based devices) and Keyspan USB<>RS-232 adapters. I'm using both in Lion - running MacLogger DX and also Parallels 6 (which does a proper COM port emulation connecting to OS-X's serial services).

    Edit: someone mentioned use of RS-232 control lines. Both drivers allow discrete control over RTS and DTS lines. These are commonly used to supply power to equipment adapters connected to the RS-232 adapter. I home-brewed a couple: one that uses a line to power an interface with ICOM Amateur Radio remote control port (Keyspan), and an IOGEAR which is used for PTT control. Both use RTS or DTS for power or control.
     
  21. genkuro macrumors newbie

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    Jul 11, 2008
    #21
    Embedded platforms round out the "RS232 is not dead" collection.

    Even if a device has a USB port, there is often a FTDI-like chip underneath converting it to RS-232. The problem then becomes ubiquitous drivers, as in, there isn't one.

    Frankly, for the purpose of text in and out functionality, RS-232 got it right. USB has a large gaping hole in the standard that doesn't allow it to easily replace the older technology.
     
  22. guzhogi thread starter macrumors 68030

    guzhogi

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    #22
  23. peda21 macrumors newbie

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    #23
  24. ckent617 macrumors newbie

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    #24
    Serial - new on Mac App Store

    After searching high and low for a good terminal app to work with a Cisco router and gadgets like Arduinos and the BeagleBone Black, I decided to write one. It's called Serial, and it's available in the Mac App Store. The main advantage over other apps is it can work with most USB to serial devices without having to install drivers- Serial includes its own user-space drivers for the most common devices. It also does full terminal emulation so you can use it to work with emacs, vi, or nano via a serial port. There's a free demo available as well.

    Also, Apple began including their own driver for FTDI-based devices in Mavericks (10.9). So, if you're on 10.9 or later and your device has an FTDI chip inside, you can use the built-in screen command in the terminal to access your device without worrying about drivers.
     

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