Issues with serial connexion between computer and ALIX card

  • Hi,

    I'm a first starter with pfsense and I'm working with the definitive guide to help me in my search but I have a small issue that I don't really know how to fix.
    My problem is with the serial connexion to my main computer in order to setup the Pfsense card. I've used the windows based tool from monowall in order to install the nanobsd version on the CF card of the Alix appliance, following the explanations of the book, until this step all went well.

    However when I try to link the Alix card with the serial cable on my computer to set it up with putty, It's not really working, no image, nothing. My Alix 2d13 is linked to my computer with a female/female serial cable linked to a male to USB cable and plugged into my Windows desktop.

    I'm Using this king of Serial/usb cable:

    Here you have my Putty settings:

    The Alix card is well powered on, the three ethernet ports have their green light on, and my COM/LPT drivers are up to date on my Windows OS

    Do you have any tips, suggestions or a setting to look after, I can't really figure out what is the problem.


  • Netgate Administrator

    You need to make sure your female-female serial cable is wired as a null modem, unless your usb adapter already crosses the connections which is very unlikely.

    Very basically: pin2 on one end should be connected to pin3 on the other.


  • Interesting, following your post I've just checked the cables, here's what I've got:

    5 4 3 2 1
    9 8 7 6

    and the Male/USB

    1 2 3 4 5
    6 7 8 9

    So my cables are not fitted which might be the cause of the problem I guess.
    I'm a bit lost, never really knew about serial cables pins before.

  • Hope this helps

    and something  to read

  • My female/ female has exactly the same scheme. Thanks for the explanation

  • Netgate Administrator

    You only need pins 2,3 and 5 to get something.
    If you have tested your cable (using a continuity tester or multimeter) and are sure that pins 2 and 3 are crossed then it could be your USB adapter.
    Try testing your cable and adapter on something else if you have it.

    One other thing is that occurs is that these usb adapters usually appear as com3 or higher.
    Even if your system doesn't have any com ports externally it may them on board.


  • I've checked, The COM connexion goes on COM5

    But I still don't have anything on the screen. (Windows actually detect it as a new peripheral when I plug it in)

    About my cable I bought it as a RS232 DB9 null-modem. I'm probably going to look after new cables and see what's what.

    On the other side, Is there a doubt to have on the nanobsd installation ? My only hands on experience with pfsense is with virtual machines, so I've never used a nanobsd version.

  • Netgate Administrator

    So you are using com5 in putty, yes?
    And still seeing nothing?


  • Like stewe said: are you using port5? your screenshot seems to use com1

  • I've tried with COM5 since, launched putty before starting the Alix box, to allow it to listen to the port. Still nothing. I doubt about my nanobsd installation thus I've followed the definitive guide instructions with the M0n0wall tool on Windows.

  • Does this help

    Your screenshot also showed another com port, can you try with that if it's working any better

  • Netgate Administrator

    It's definitely com5. Prolific are the usb-serial manufacturer.

    If your image has not installed correctly on the card then you won't see anything at 9600.

    The default serial speed for the Alix BIOS is 38,400.
    Try setting putty to 38,400.

    You can change the bios serial speed to 9600 to match the output from pfSense.