FAQ: Accessing the ForumOS CLI via Serial Port with HyperTerminal

Connecting to the ForumOS CLI

Initial configuration (or restoration) of a Forum Sentry appliance requires connecting to the ForumOS CLI (command line interface) through the serial port of the appliance.  To access the CLI via the serial port, Sentry admins will need to use a terminal emulation product.  Specific operations in the ForumOS (e.g.: bootstrap import/export) require a ZMODEM transfer (file upload/download). 

As many modern laptops do not have serial ports, typically a serial to USB converter cable is used. If you have issues connecting to the CLI with the converter cable, ensure you have the latest drivers for this converter.

There are many terminal emulation products available that will work for accessing the ForumOS CLI.  While Putty is frequently used, this does not natively support ZMODEM.  There are Putty distributions that claim support for ZMODEM but none have been proven to work reliably with Forum Sentry appliances.

Once the network settings are applied to the appliance, the ForumOS CLI can be accessed remotely via SSH.  However, it is not possible to do ZMODEM transfer over SSH.  That being said, ZMODEM transfers will not be used often.

 

HyperTerminal

For Windows users, Forum Systems recommends using Windows HyperTerminal to access the CLI as this product is known to support ZMODEM transfers.  With Windows 7 and later, HyperTerminal was removed as a default application in Windows. For more information see: 

Does Windows 7 support Hyper Terminal communications?

 

HyperTerminal Replacement

A quick internet search will return several locations to download the older Windows HyperTerminal files that can potentially be used with newer versions of Windows. Additionally, there are a few HyperTerminal replacement products available on the internet to fill this gap.  

One such tool  that Forum Support has confirmed to work (and has a free 30 day eval period) can be found here:

HyperTerminal Private Edition

Please note that Forum Support cannot provide support for this or any other terminal emulation software, though we can assist with troubleshooting the connection to the ForumOS CLI.

 

HyperTerminal Settings

Please refer to the following settings for configuring HyperTerminal:

  • Connect using = COM1 (or whatever the correct COM port is for your system - this may take some trial and error)
  • Bits per second = 9600
  • Data bits = 8
  • Parity = None
  • Stop bits = 1
  • Flow control = Hardware

 

Remote Serial Console Access

Many Sentry appliance deployments utilize console serial port switches so that admins have a constant yet remote physical connection to the ForumOS. Some companies that provide these products are Avocent (Cyclades) and Raritan (Dominion).  Using a serial console switch is recommended and can be very useful if the device cannot be reached via SSH or WebAdmin. However, do note that many of these remote console switches do not support ZMODEM transfers.

 

More Information

For more information on the initial configuration of the Sentry appliances please see the attached Hardware Installation Guide and the Quick Start Guide.

 

 

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