Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Who in the world still uses their serial ports?

Last response: in Motherboards
Share

Do you still use ANYTHING that uses the serial port?

Total: 69 votes

  • Yes, every day!
  • 36 %
  • I have some stuff that does, but I don''''t use it very much.
  • 46 %
  • Whats a DB-9 serial port?
  • 19 %
September 9, 2006 6:11:23 AM

Seriously, who does? Not that I see anything wrong with it, but I'm trying to figure out why all the motherboard makers see fit to include one on every board. Even the highest end ones, brand spankin' new are including them. Even some LAPTOPS, where space is at a premium, are still including them. So obviously, there MUST be some market for them. Or perhaps there is a different reason... Anyone know why?

Just for clarification, I'm talking about the DB-9 port, not the USB or SATA ports that both include "serial" in their name.

More about : world serial ports

September 9, 2006 7:01:09 AM

I do, I use it to post machine code to my CNC mills at work.
September 9, 2006 8:51:06 AM

I use it for snail like RS232 comms to high integrity SIS systems - IF and ONLY if I can't get hold of a serial card with RS485 ports.
Related resources
a b V Motherboard
September 9, 2006 9:27:56 AM

My Uninterruptible Power Supply status line is a DB9 connection.
September 9, 2006 10:39:07 AM

Many routers also require a DB-9 connector for the console connections - in laptops this is especially useful for a technician ;) 
Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
September 9, 2006 10:46:42 AM

There ARE MB's without a serial connector. I was horrified when I found out that my new MB had none.
September 9, 2006 11:24:50 AM

ME!

I build telecommunications equipment (basically, it's an embedded PowerPC running Linux off a Compact Flash card).

Once the unit's booted, we can just ssh into it, sure. But for debugging, watching the bootup messages, for kernel upgrading using PPCboot, and especially for problems with ethernet when we can't ssh into it, we gotta use the serial connection.

In fact, i don't quite like my computer at work, as it only has ONE serial port (afaik, it's an asus a7vx-mx or sumfin), not even an internal one. so i'm constantly swapping my serial cable between up to 4 units for testing. Most of the time it's easier to hook up one serial cable per unit to one computer, and ssh into multiple PCs and use minicom from there.

So a normal day for me at work involves 1 HyperTerminal, and 3 Putty windows to 3 other PCs in the office, each running minicom to multiple units under test (plus a TFTP server and lord knows what else). Anyone know where to get a PCI-based ComPort card (with 3-4 ports preferably)??
September 9, 2006 11:30:01 AM

It's used to to download cash register data everyday.
September 9, 2006 11:57:51 AM

I use my serial port to communicate with Veriteq Dataloggers (small temperature measuring device), (http://veriteq.com) for my work rather often. I also use it to communicate with Kaye Validator (Thermocouple temperature measuring system), (http://www.kayeinstruments.com).
September 9, 2006 12:42:05 PM

I don't even have any Serial Port devices(DB9 port is it?correct me if I'm wrong.).I don't see any point at all in keeping these.I'd like to see that wasted space on a MB used for extra USB ports instead cus I have tons on USB devices but no serial devices.

Just get rid of them. 8)
September 9, 2006 1:14:15 PM

I have a AutoXray 6000 Auto diagnostic tool that uses a serial port so you can downlosd the data to your pc for record keeping. I had to buy a PCMCI serial card for my notebook to make it portable.

Also My old Palm III still works and uses it.
September 9, 2006 1:23:13 PM

Its used more than you'd think, for control of managed network devices, for diagnostic systems, for remote reboot systems in web servers etc,

Alot of people never use them these days, but those that do cant live without them!
September 9, 2006 1:56:13 PM

I use a serial port to console into some old Cisco routers I have setup on my desk at home. Is that so wrong?
September 9, 2006 1:59:07 PM

I still use mine on my home computer to program some entertainment equipment thats very current
September 9, 2006 2:04:08 PM

Quote:
Seriously, who does? Not that I see anything wrong with it, but I'm trying to figure out why all the motherboard makers see fit to include one on every board. Even the highest end ones, brand spankin' new are including them. Even some LAPTOPS, where space is at a premium, are still including them. So obviously, there MUST be some market for them. Or perhaps there is a different reason... Anyone know why?

Just for clarification, I'm talking about the DB-9 port, not the USB or SATA ports that both include "serial" in their name.


More like, who in the world is left to ask such stupid questions.
September 9, 2006 2:24:26 PM

Used for everything from Receipt printers in the stores to router consoles to tty'ng UNIX ports.

Physical access to a system implies access to a serial port AFAIK.
September 9, 2006 2:34:12 PM

My company has survey data collectors and UPS's that use them. There are plenty of people who still use them.

Computer manufacturers know they are still very much needed and you won't see them going away any time soon. You know, the computer industry is sort of in touch with what is needed and what isn't. :wink:
September 9, 2006 3:39:01 PM

I think we can all agree that in the professional environment there is a (great?) need for serial ports, even in this day and age. I have to use them myself from time to time. I was wondering more along the enthusiast side of things. Even some of the most expensive "overclocker's dream"-type of motherboards still include one. And the giant iBuyPower SLI laptop that was on THG last night even includes one.

Now, I can see the market for the serial ports in a more professional environment and even in the home environment for some people. But seriously, how many normal (you know what I mean) people actually use them? You would think that with all the cost optimizations that are done on the systems such like the ones they sell in stores for 99 bucks would have excluded them, but still they stay. I'm just wondering why. The target market for these systems are people who either don't have a computer, or someone who hasn't gotten a new computer for a very long time or someone who has no money to buy an actually good system. All three of these groups generally don't need ANY serial ports, mainly because most of them have no idea what they are (no kidding, I sold them for 3 years, anyone who knew anything about them was very few and very far between) and have nothing that would use them. Even the new UPS use USB!

My main question is why? Of course there's exceptions, but on the vast majority of boards, from the top to the bottom of the market they still install these things. Could it be that they're so cheap from being manufactured for the last 25 (is it?) years that it makes no difference if they are included? What do you guys think?
Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
September 9, 2006 3:39:18 PM

I use the serial port to write to my ATMEL microprocessor; can't be bothered to build a USB converter.
September 9, 2006 5:42:29 PM

Quote:
The target market for these systems are people who either don't have a computer, or someone who hasn't gotten a new computer for a very long time or someone who has no money to buy an actually good system. All three of these groups generally don't need ANY serial ports, mainly because most of them have no idea what they are (no kidding, I sold them for 3 years, anyone who knew anything about them was very few and very far between) and have nothing that would use them.


In your example, someone who hasn't bought a computer for a very long time could possibly also have very old periferals. There are old digital cameras for example that use serial ports.

I think you are trying to justify why anyone else wouldn't need one based on your perceptions that they shouldn't need one. The cost of a serial port on a machine isn't going to add much money to the cost of the system (probably pennies) and therefore it's much easier to add them than to have 2 products for different markets.

There are still a lot of uses for a serial port. Some people have never used them and will never use them [the so called "normal" people in your example], but that doesn't mean it should be excluded from a computer, because there are still plenty of people who need them.

I sure wouldn't buy a board or machine that didn't have a serial port.
September 9, 2006 7:31:12 PM

I'm not trying to make a statement here. I just was wondering. I may have worded it like there was no use for them, and for that I apoolgise. I didn't want to build a huge case against serial ports, but I for one, would like, say, a firewire or (as mentioned before) a couple extra usb ports. I admit that there are all sorts of uses for serial ports, but how many people, and I'm talking people who aren't computer people, actually use any of them? It is just perplexing to me that the manufacturers of these systems haven't taken them off of the large majority of their consumer and enthusiast level boards yet in favor of new technologies. I mean, even if they didn't put anything in its place, at least they would be saving money (pennies/board * 10,000,000) in the long run!

Perhaps if I posted in a forum where more people bought computers from retail stores like best buy and office depot I would get more of the information that I am looking for, but I hope you see my point that manufacturers have products included on their systems out there that are completely worthless for 90% of the people that buy said systems. I've just been wondering why. Could it be that the evil capitalisitc companies who care nothing for anyting but money :roll: are actually catering to a tiny minority for some reason? Or is it just that they fear the backlash of computer professionals who would give people a bad recommendation soley based on the fact that their systems are missing a component that they would never need?

Besides, its not like there aren't any converters out there...
September 9, 2006 7:46:21 PM

Lots of people don't use floppy disks either but I doubt you see floppy controllers removed from the boards any time soon. When is the last time you listened to AM radio in a car, but there are still AM radios built into all car radios.

It doesn't make sense to remove something that costs nothing to include and have 2 different versions of boards. It's much cheaper in the long run to just include it until the feature is no longer needed and then removing it completely.

As I said, I think the industry knows what devices need serial ports, and how large the installed base of these devices is. It doesn't make since from a business point of view to remove a device that has a lot of potential customers [sales] just because there is another large percentage of people who have never and will never use the feature.
September 9, 2006 8:40:39 PM

I use it on a external modem I use to send and recieve faxes.
September 10, 2006 12:07:43 AM

well, i was going to bring up external modems, but someone beat me...

If anything's more useless for the amount of space it takes up, it's a parallel port. Every new printer these days has a USB port, and in most cases, it's cheaper to buy a whole new printer than to buy new ink cartridges for old ones (besides refilling). actually, who needs printers? haven't used one for 10 years at home, only printed essays for uni, but used the uni printers. i see not the point in printing stuff i can view on a screen just as well. or maybe that's just me, i like trees

and firewire can go too, but that's only because i don't have any firewire devices. (and doubt i ever will)
September 10, 2006 12:32:51 AM

I was going to use parallel as example, but there are a lot more people who use that than serial, and there are a lot of serial users anyway.

Old printers are often built better and will last longer too. I also have 3 large format printers sitting in eye shot of me right now (plotters), and 2 of those use parallel ports. The other would use it, but it also has a LAN port, so I use a print server for it.

Out of interest, as I write this reply, there are 18 people who use a serial port everyday, and 24 who use it sometimes. Only 5 people say they don't know what it's for. So out of roughly 50 respondants, only 10% don't use it. Sure, this forum is probably different and probably only those who actually use a serial port opened this thread, but still, I think that's very telling that it's not something that is just included for no reason and should be removed.
September 10, 2006 12:41:42 AM

You also have about 2,000,000 tivo hackers. That that is the only way in initially to setup lan and other goodies on the tivo. You have to get to bash in linux to get there.
September 10, 2006 12:47:44 AM

Quote:
I'm not trying to make a statement here. I just was wondering. I may have worded it like there was no use for them, and for that I apoolgise. I didn't want to build a huge case against serial ports, but I for one, would like, say, a firewire or (as mentioned before) a couple extra usb ports. I admit that there are all sorts of uses for serial ports, but how many people, and I'm talking people who aren't computer people, actually use any of them? It is just perplexing to me that the manufacturers of these systems haven't taken them off of the large majority of their consumer and enthusiast level boards yet in favor of new technologies. I mean, even if they didn't put anything in its place, at least they would be saving money (pennies/board * 10,000,000) in the long run!

Perhaps if I posted in a forum where more people bought computers from retail stores like best buy and office depot I would get more of the information that I am looking for, but I hope you see my point that manufacturers have products included on their systems out there that are completely worthless for 90% of the people that buy said systems. I've just been wondering why. Could it be that the evil capitalisitc companies who care nothing for anyting but money :roll: are actually catering to a tiny minority for some reason? Or is it just that they fear the backlash of computer professionals who would give people a bad recommendation soley based on the fact that their systems are missing a component that they would never need?

Besides, its not like there aren't any converters out there...


Yes... Perhaps you should post in a somewhat less professional environment. Obviously you have never used a console port before, or you'd never have brought up the buggy usb / serial idea. and only recently did APC offer a USB option, personally at work I have to spec a serial model for use, as usb ports in general are still a bit iffy.

I also still prefer a ps2 mouse and keyboard as well, so much so that I went out of my way to find my last keyboard for work, and I use a usb / ps2 converter on my g5 at home.
September 10, 2006 12:49:03 AM

I don't use the serial everyday but I do not know what I would do without it. I need it to program certain types of uhh cards.
September 10, 2006 12:53:52 AM

I also was thinking of bring up ye olde parallel port as well, but I didn't want to due to the risk of making it sound a little unfocused, but since you mention it, I do agree with you. I know, many machines other than printers (robots?) use parallel, but seriously, how many [again] normal people use them? Very few, in my experience. And like I linked above, its not like there aren't any adapters for the smaller/faster/easier to use USB ports to make serial/parallel connections possible! I bet if demand suddenly spiked for these sorts of devices due to a unilateral removal of the built in devices for almost every computer out there, the amount of makers would increase, a real good, solid standard would develop, and software support would almost instantaneously become universal and even in linux it would be plug-n-play. That, I think, would be a higher margin/more focused customer base than just including it on everything a company makes.

Firewire? Eh, I'm 50/50 on that. At least its a new technology that hasn't been around since the stone age :D  . Not to mention the high bandwidth hungry consumer level devices such as external hard drives and video cameras.
September 10, 2006 1:04:07 AM

Quote:
Seriously, who does? Not that I see anything wrong with it, but I'm trying to figure out why all the motherboard makers see fit to include one on every board. Even the highest end ones, brand spankin' new are including them. Even some LAPTOPS, where space is at a premium, are still including them. So obviously, there MUST be some market for them. Or perhaps there is a different reason... Anyone know why?

Just for clarification, I'm talking about the DB-9 port, not the USB or SATA ports that both include "serial" in their name.


You see, FLOPPY is the thing you should be bitching about, not the serial port because serial port is actually usefull. You can flash cell phones, program EEPROM chips for video cards and mainboards, attach external higher quality 56kbps modem if you live in a country where broadband is not yet available everywhere, etc.

Now if Microsoft took some time to implement reading files from USB sticks and get rid of damn FLOPPY requirement for that F6 driver thingy during NT/2000/XP/2003 (and probably Vista) Setup, we could get rid of that piece of junk and keep the serial port.
September 10, 2006 1:08:31 AM

Quote:
Now if Microsoft took some time to implement reading files from USB sticks and get rid of damn FLOPPY requirement for that F6 driver thingy during NT/2000/XP/2003 (and probably Vista) Setup, we could get rid of that piece of junk and keep the serial port.


I recently read a discussion about floppies, so I didn't feel to up to doing the same topic again. Not to meniton I was truly wondering who still uses serial. Floppies, I'm not to worried about: they don't take up any backplane space and take up minimal space on the motherboard.

To my real reason to quote this: Just so everyone knows, vista does have USB support in the installer for drivers and such. They actually heard customer's complaints! Go figure! Oh well, just needed to clarify that.
September 10, 2006 1:14:31 AM

I note that your poll initially addresses the word "ANYTHING" and then you change the parameters of the users to "normal people". I use the serial port primarily for data collection and transfer in data aquisition systems; many systems still use traditional serial ports. I've also used them as a hobbyist, e.g. BASIC Stamp.

Serial ports may not be as universal as they were a decade ago, but the fact is they're still being used by a significant albeit small group. Is this any different than other little-used options on other things?
September 10, 2006 1:29:48 AM

I wasn't trying to make a point with my poll, I was just curious as to how the ports were being utilized today. In my later posts, I just wanted to make clear what I thought and what my experience had been with them. To be sure, I was aware of the professional environment and especially the networking environment (I'm a CCNA myself), I was just hoping to get a better idea of exactly how many people actually still use them.

I believe I must make clear my background. For the last several years, I have been a retail salesman, selling mainly computers (too young to get a real job), and it has been my experience that normal computer buyers don't use them at all. In fact, when shown to them, they look like they have no idea what it is! That is why I started this thread and that is why I worded the poll like I did.

And to address an earlier post, it seems that DB-9 and DB9 are both incorrect terminology for the connection that we are speaking of. According to wikipedia, the proper terminology is DE-9.
September 10, 2006 1:45:20 AM

Quote:
it seems that DB-9 and DB9 are both incorrect terminology for the connection that we are speaking of. According to wikipedia, the proper terminology is DE-9.

R u sure wikipedia is right? I was watching the Colbert report and anyone can change stuff on that. It's probably wikiality.
September 10, 2006 1:57:41 AM

I would hope the external link to harvard that says the exact same thing as the wiki would be correct...

Edit:
I did a google for it, it seems to be corroborated at several other sites as well
September 10, 2006 2:04:12 AM

My UPS uses it on a daily basis, via a usb to serial since my new motherboard doesnt have one :@
September 10, 2006 2:22:50 AM

DB9 is the right name but just for the connector used, not for the serial protocol which is RS-232. Some older folks may remember DB25 being used for serial port too.
September 10, 2006 2:47:02 AM

I use my serial port to reprogram my satellite box here and there. I've also used it for this and that, some things don't have USB, so I have to use serial.
September 10, 2006 4:01:07 AM

ive got some serial stuf i nvr use anymore, but jus wondering, can any of u ppl see a day where everything is run off a standard lik usb?
September 10, 2006 11:50:24 AM

FYI DB-25 is the parallel port. The number after DB is the pin count of the connector.
September 10, 2006 12:28:58 PM

I use it to connect an external modem. I only use the modem for fax sending/receiving and for emergency net access when RR is down.
a b V Motherboard
September 10, 2006 1:26:03 PM

I have a serial port in my old laptop and it never got used. My desktop has no serial port at all and I don't miss it at all. My brother had an old TI graphing calculator link cable that was a serial cable, but now even they are USB.
September 11, 2006 12:44:29 AM

Quote:
FYI DB-25 is the parallel port. The number after DB is the pin count of the connector.


true, but you can (could) also get RS232 (serial) ports using 25 pins. confusing, yes, that's probably why they settled on a 9-pin D for RS232.

Everything we use serial for (and, i'd hazard a guess, probably everyone else) only has Rx, Tx, and Ground connected, so 6 more pins could be done away with imho. the rest are all handshaking/flow-control/etc which can be done in software anyway...


And to make matters worse, there's RS485, which can run on the same 25 or 9 pin D connectors, sometimes both can be run, and sometimes one or the other (but generally only on really old equipment, RS485 is quite rare these days).
September 11, 2006 1:22:12 AM

Quote:
Lots of people don't use floppy disks either but I doubt you see floppy controllers removed from the boards any time soon.

Except for bios flashes. But then how many typical everyday people (the type that dont post on forums like these) even know what a BIOS is or does?
!