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We use Conserver, the "console server daemon", to manage serial consoles for most of our systems. Several systems can be powered on using the serial console, and the others are useful for the accessing the system when the network is misconfigured or down.

The Basics

To get a list of consoles, type "console -x":

% console -x
Enter hobo@caffeine's password: 
 ascorbic-acid            on /dev/ttyS0                       at   9600n
 potassium-citrate        on /dev/ttyS1                       at 115200n
 citric-acid              on /dev/ttyS1                       at   9600n

To connect to a console, type "console <name>", replacing name by the name of the console.

% console caffeine
Enter hobo@caffeine's password: 
[Enter `^Ec?' for help]

Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 caffeine ttyS0

caffeine login: