Grub Serial Console Funkiness

mike mike at
Fri Jun 27 12:01:31 MDT 2008

I guess it is about time we actually had a technical question posted to the
list. :)

I have 27 machines that I have installed Debian Etch on. All of them have
an IPMI card and I use the IPMI Serial-over-LAN (SOL) functionality to see
the output of the console remotely. Unfortunately, the tools for connecting
to the SOL kind of suck and drop their connection somewhat randomly and I
can't rely on them always being connected. But that isn't the problem I am
having. The problem is with the GRUB configuration for a serial port. If I
reboot a machine and have a SOL console connected, the machine reboots
fine. But if I don't have a SOL console connected, the machine sits at the
grub menu waiting for me to select a boot option. It completely ignores the
timeout value in the configuration. It seems to somehow know that the
serial is not connected and forgets what to do next. Any thoughts on this
on what might be causing this? Here is the beginning of my menu.lst for

serial --unit=1 --speed=115200 --word=console=ttyS1,115200 --parity=
terminal --timeout=5 serial console

default		0

timeout		5

I know the first line looks a little weird with the
'--word=console=ttyS1,115200' but if I put just '--word=8' like it probably
should be, GRUB completely hangs up and locks up at "Loading GRUB. Please
wait...." Also, GRUB seems to be completely ignoring the --timeout value on
the terminal line as I don't see the "Press any key to Continue" prompt on
either the serial console or the KVM console for those 5 seconds. 

I have these IPMI serial consoles and GRUB working on like 500 systems in
the datacenters I work on here in Utah. But these new systems in the EU are
driving me up the wall with this problem. Any help would be appreciated.
Sorry if the post seems like a lot of scattered information.


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