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Serial Port in VMware: A Step-By-Step Guide

Olga Weis Olga Weis Dec 23, 2021

Virtual machines can access and utilize a maximum of four virtual serial ports, and users can connect a virtual serial port with a file, or physical serial port, on a host computer. When you need to access serial port in VMware you can use the software Serial to Ethernet Connector. Take a look to step-by-step tutroial on how to add COM port in Virtual Machine.

COM port in Virtual Machine

Users can also configure host-named pipes to establish direct connections between one virtual machine to another—or between a virtual machine and host machine’s app. Additionally, it’s possible to implement ports, or Virtual Serial Port Concentrator (vSPC) URI, to establish a connection with a serial port via a network connection.

Step-by-step guide to add serial ports to VMware Host Client:

Open Virtual Machines from VMware Host Client’s inventory;
Choose a virtual machine from the list by right-clicking it;
Choose Edit settings from the pop-up menu;
From the Virtual Hardware tab, choose “Add other device”;
Choose Serial Port (the Serial Port appears in the hardware list);
Expand the serial port from the hardware list;
Specify/choose the type of media port you want to access;

Note on how to use output file: To store Virtual Serial Port output, navigate to the desired file on the host.

Note on how to use physical serial port: From the drop-down menu, choose the port.

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How to use named pipe:

If you choose to output to the named pipe, you should make some configurations for your named pipe:

If you have a Windows host, you can either opt for the default pipe name or enter the one you prefer. It’s important that the name does not differ on the server and client. You should use the same name that will begin with \.\pipe\

E.g.: \\.\pipe\namedpipe

In the Pipe name field, enter a name for the pipe;
From the drop-down menu, choose the Near End and Far End of the pipe.

Video tutorial

How to use a network:

Choose Server or Client from the Direction drop-down menu;
Enter the port URI.

Note: The URI is the remote end of the serial port where the virtual machine’s serial port must connect.

What to do if vSPC is configured as an intermediate step to access virtual machines using one IP address:

Choose “Use Virtual Serial Port Concentrator”;
Type the appropriate vSPC URI location;
(Optional) For those who don’t want parallel port devices to connect once a virtual machine turns on, deselect the “Connect at power on” option;
Hit “Save”.

Once done, you can choose where the virtual port that you’ve just added will send data. You will have the following options:

“Use a physical parallel port” - if you choose this, your VMware serial port’s data will be redirected to a hardware serial port of your host machine.

“Use output file”- in this case, the virtual port’s output is sent to a file that you specify.

“Output to named pipe” - this option lets two guest systems connect directly. Also, you can use it to exchange data between a virtual machine and a program on your host computer.

When you have a Linux host, the name of the pipe can be /tmp/socket or another UNIX socket name. Make sure the name is the same on both the server and the client.

If your goal is to redirect some debugging info to a utility installed on the host, you should do the following:

In the first drop-down list, select This end is the server. In the second drop-down list, select The other end is an application.

Want to connect to another VM? Choose the server in the first drop-down list and The other end is a virtual machine in the second one.

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VMware ESXi and serial port connections

VMware provides the ESXi Server - a software product for computer virtualization enterprise-wide. This solution is designed to simplify the centralized management of corporate desktops and software.

When it comes to COM port connections, the ESXi Server offers the ability to send data to the named pipe and to network serial ports.

With ESXi, a serial port may be accessed via a server or client connection. Depending on the connection type you select, the system will either wait for a connection or initiate it. A server connection is usually selected when it’s required to control a virtual machine over a serial port. While a client connection is more preferable when you use a serial port for logging. In this case, the VM will be able to connect to the logging server once the guest OS starts and disconnect if it stops.

Frequently Asked Questions

Users can permit a virtual serial port within a virtual machine to transfer its output to a host computer’s file.

This is a quick method for transferring files from a guest machine to a host machine by capturing data from a program currently running within the virtual machine and transferring it to a virtual serial port.
VMware ESXi allows you to work with up to 32 serial ports. The serial ports that are residing on your motherboard can be easily redirected to a virtual machine from an ESXi host.
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