[SOLVED] ALIX 2D13 - no terminal emulator output



  • Hello dear pfSense community,

    I followed Rockpenguin's guide describing the installation of pfSense on ALIX boards and additionally used Defensive Depth's post as a reference.

    It all went fine: I wrote the newest embedded 4 GB pfSense 2.1 image to a 4 GB CF card with dd.
    Inserted the CF card on the ALIX board, started up minicom with:

    minicom -b 38400 -8
    

    and changed the settings accordingly, the parity and stop values were already set right, so I changed Hardware Flow control to No and the terminal to ANSI.
    Then I connected the ALIX board to the computer and powered it on.
    The lights were moving around, which as far as I know is a sign of FreeBSD booting.
    When the LEDs stand still, I get no terminal output. Nothing.
    I tried minicom with different settings, Putty with different settings. Changed the port to COM1, COM6 and nothing really worked.

    Please help me with this.

    Thanks in advance



  • Are we talking console/serial settings?

    pfsense will use
    baud: 9600
    data bits: 8
    stop bit: 1

    Sorry if I am way of topic ;-)
    Good luck



  • I am using

    minicom -w -b 9600 -D /dev/ttyS0
    

    for a regular serial port. If you use a serial to USB adapter you will need /dev/ttyUSB0 instead. In order to see bios messages at this serial speed I recommend to adjust serial speed in the BIOS accordingly. You can enter the ALIX BIOS by pressing key "s" directly after powering on. I hope it helps.

    Regards,
    Peter



  • Unfortunately, Tillebeck's answer didn't help, because the problem had something to do with /dev/ttyS0 I think. Nonetheless, thanks for the information.
    Using Peter's answer I could see the output and it booted properly. Thank you very much!

    One question is left, though.
    Is going into the BIOS neccessary?
    As no matter at what point I pressed s, I couldn't get into the BIOS setup.



  • @someperson472034:

    One question is left, though.
    Is going into the BIOS neccessary?
    As no matter at what point I pressed s, I couldn't get into the BIOS setup.

    It is not neccessary to enter the BIOS and change the serial data rate to 9600 unless you want to see BIOS messages besides pfSense messages.

    If I remember correctly factory setting of the ALIX BIOS is 38400 baud. In order to enter BIOS you have to connect using this data rate. Only with this data rate you will be able to see the BIOS messages and will be able to enter "s"  at the right time. After you have changed the BIOS setting of the serial data rate to 9600 baud you will have to connect with Minicom using 9600 baud. From now on you should see both BIOS and pfSense messages.

    Regards,
    Peter



  • @pvoigt:

    It is not neccessary to enter the BIOS and change the serial data rate to 9600 unless you want to see BIOS messages besides pfSense messages.

    I can connect to the board with a baud rate of 38400:

    
    PC Engines ALIX.2 v0.99h
    640 KB Base Memory
    261120 KB Extended Memory
    
    01F0 Master 848A TS4GCF133
    Phys C/H/S 7769/16/63 Log C/H/S 971/128/63
    
    

    But at this point the output becomes unreadable. It would only consist of these characters:

    ������x�xx�������x��x����������x���
    

    Also tried out setting the terminal emulator baud rate to 115200, which gave me those strange characters, too.
    So how can I successfully enter the BIOS setup?



  • @someperson472034:

    @pvoigt:

    It is not neccessary to enter the BIOS and change the serial data rate to 9600 unless you want to see BIOS messages besides pfSense messages.

    I can connect to the board with a baud rate of 38400:

    
    PC Engines ALIX.2 v0.99h
    640 KB Base Memory
    261120 KB Extended Memory
    
    01F0 Master 848A TS4GCF133
    Phys C/H/S 7769/16/63 Log C/H/S 971/128/63
    
    

    But at this point the output becomes unreadable. It would only consist of these characters:

    ������x�xx�������x��x����������x���
    

    Also tried out setting the terminal emulator baud rate to 115200, which also gave me those strange characters.
    So how can I successfully enter the BIOS setup?

    Sure, you have to press "s" during memory test. When the above BIOS message is appearing it's already to late to enter the BIOS. And when connected via 38400 baud you will see garbage after BIOS messages because pfSense sends with a different speed, namely 9600 baud.

    A quick search gave me the following links which may be helpful for further information:
    http://mygeekshed.wordpress.com/2011/01/26/pfsense-embedded-on-a-alix-2d13-board/
    It shows in particular that you have to choose "9" within the ALIX BIOS to get 9600 baud setting.

    Regards,
    Peter



  • @pvoigt:

    When the above BIOS message is appearing it's already to late to enter the BIOS.

    The problem this time was that I didn't really know at what point the memory test began.
    Pressing s very shortly after turning the power on got me into the BIOS setup.
    As the BIOS baud rate is now set to 9600 I can finally see the BIOS messages on every reboot.

    Your answers are of great value and your help is appreciated. Thanks again!