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Mount USB-to-Serial Adaptor in VMWare ESCX 2.5.3?

Posted on 2009-07-16
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Last Modified: 2013-12-06
Hi Experts,

A while back*, we discovered that VMWare only supports USB 1.1 - fair enough.  We enabled a backup proxy, and all is good once again.  However, we have a new wrinkle:

The Serial port on the same server died (mysteriously) leaving us "out of touch" with the (door) Access Control Systems.  VMWare tells us (from the XP box's window) that it's sending data to the port, but the port just isn't functioning any longer.

So we decided to replace the port - no good, nobody makes that particular part for that particular (Dell) server any more --- so maybe we can employ a USB-to-Serial solution?  Radio Shack sells 'em, so we got one, plugged it in.

And that's as far as it's gone.  Naturally, while we've been debugging this issue, Access Card change requests have been backing up.  So pressure is building.

Previously, I just redirected/configured the existing serial port in the VMX file - I figure that will still work, but I need for VMWare to see the device first, and figure out which device that is in /dev/usb/??? to make it all work.

If the USB-Serial interface is already "happy", I don't know how to tell: I cannot access it - and I'll claim ignorance if it will help.  I just don't know what to do, how to tell if it's being seen, and if not, how to *make* it "get seen" so we can resolve this issue and move forward.

Help!  For the last year, everything has run absolutely fine!  I'm not sure where to run with this...

Thank you for your time and trouble!


* A while back = http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/VMWare/Q_23560672.html?sfQueryTermInfo=1+mount+usb
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Question by:LongFist
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Expert Comment

by:davismisbehavis
ID: 24873917
I'm going to go out on a limb here,  has the ESX host been rebooted so that it can read in the USB connector on boot up?  Sounds silly but I'm pretty sure that ESX has no plug and play capabilities in the same way as windows does.
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by:LongFist
ID: 24873969
Well, from previous experience, it "knew" when we plugged in the Terabyte HD, so I think it must have some rudimentary capacity.

But since it is a production server, I'll need to get in early tomorrow morning and perform said reboot.

I just don't know.

Thanks for the prompt answer, though!  :P
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Expert Comment

by:davismisbehavis
ID: 24873990
It's worth a try, in IT they often say 90% of problems are resolved through reboots, lets hope this isn't one of the 10%
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Author Comment

by:LongFist
ID: 24878029
No reboot yet, following upper management's pleas.

     ...but that doesn't mean we cannot make progress...


dmesg reports the following:

hub.c: USB new device connect on bus 1/2 assigned device number 2
hub.c: USB device 2 (vend/prod 0x1453/0x4026) is not claimed by any active driver.


lsusb doesn't appear to exist on this VMWare distro, but I can safely bet that the USB-to-Serial Adapter wouldn't show up in the list, anyway.  No driver.

So I guess we need to find a driver to service the device?  This could be tricky, as most manufacturers either follow the Mac or winDoze: I believe that only HP officially recognizes that Linux boxes exist.

Does anybody know where one might find a Linux driver capable of servicing a Radio Shack USB-to-Serial Adapter?  I known they have the (buried, hidden) driver for Windows 9x, XP, Vista-32 at http://support.radioshack.com/soft.htm - but (naturally) neither Linux (nor any other 64-bit platform) is supported.


I figure at this point I either need to find a USB-to-Serial Adapter supported by Linux, or find a way to register a generic driver to the vendor/product ID that will make it work...
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Accepted Solution

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LongFist earned 0 total points
ID: 24879728
News flash!  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here's the official skinny:

VMWare does not support the USB-to-Serial Adapter solution at all: it breaks the Virtual Machine paradigm, making it impossible to move a VM from one machine to another.  You cannot have a VM hardware-dependent on *anything* from the Virtual Server platform.

Thus, mapping the physical COM port was just a band-aid, as it didn't resolve the problem either if the VM was moved from that server to another.

The (correct and portable) answer is to purchase a Serial Server, also known as a Serial-to-Ethernet Server.  This is a "box" that plugs into your network, gets configured with an IP address, and performs TCP/IP-to-Serial (and back) functions.  It's totally portable (the VM using it doesn't have to change anything to keep using it), should you need to transfer a VM from one box to another for any reason.

I hate the "throw money at it" answer, but due to the VMWare Virtual Machine paradigm and our dedication to make it work and keep it working I'm afraid that's the correct solution this time.

Sorry to have been any trouble.  Have a terrific day!
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