I have used MikroTik RouterOS and I found a telnet-over-Ethernet (a layer 2 telnet), MAC telnet on it.

I think it's a great tool, when SSH dies, or someone misconfigures IP Addresses. So the thing about it that you could telnet to a MAC address, log in, etc.

RouterOS is based on Linux, but are there Layer 2 telnet solutions - open-source projects (or in the repositories) under e.g.: Ubuntu, Fedora?


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    What is “layer 2 telnet”? Google shows that you invented the term (all other occurrences have punctuation between “layer 2” and “telnet”), but you don't explain what it means. Jun 4, 2011 at 11:14
  • but it exists on routeros, see PDF :P Jun 4, 2011 at 11:23
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    Ok, now I see what you mean. It would be better all around if you wrote clear questions without having to be prompted: you would get better answers, and other people would waste less time. That extra link could go in an answer, it's a partial answer but not really part of the question. Jun 4, 2011 at 11:38
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    @gilles, it is possible to stack a tcp pdu directly on ethernet without an ip pdu; this has very limited application, but there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it. Jun 4, 2011 at 13:17
  • An unstable (alpha stage) program requiring root access to run... Sounds fantastic! Oh sorry, I meant "fanatic". Sep 2, 2011 at 16:36

2 Answers 2


I'm on Debian at the moment, and I see both a client (package mactelnet-client) and server (predictably, mactelnet-server). In the case of the client, mactelnet is the binary to run. I'd be very wary of the security aspect in a piece of software like this, though. Linux TCP/IP has a well-established, peer-reviewed, often audited stack and toolset.

However, as other(s) have mentioned already, if you need a remote-access console for your computer, invest in a machine with IPMI 2.0 or similar management subsystem, or buy an RS-232-to-ethernet adaptor and configure a serial getty on your computer. The former allows you access to the computer's BIOS/NVRAM, the latter doesn't unless your computer has ‘Serial Redirection’ support (Dell servers do, for one).

It's interesting that on non-PC servers (e.g. SPARC machines), this sort of thing is the norm. Our Sun T100-based boxes don't even have keyboard or display ports. All management is done via a serial or ethernet console. Older Suns automatically use the first serial port as the console unless a keyboard is plugged in on boot.


Lance, I dont think there is much need for layer2 telnet in ubuntu and other distros when they already support serial console connections via getty. Serial console clients are abundant for every major OS; however using layer2 telnet requires writing a new client, server, and protocol stack for every OS target.

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    i used mac-telnet very often to reach routerboards it's a very-very good thing:P Jun 4, 2011 at 15:15
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    @Lance, that's fine... but most of the network / unix admins have been using serial consoles for a long time and the value added by mactelnet seems rather low to me. It is a rare event when you can't telnet or ssh with IP; in those cases when you can't, there is a decent chance ethernet is broken too (like the device is stuck in the ROM monitor boot code). Serial is pretty much the best option for emergency recovery. Jun 4, 2011 at 17:11
  • Well, speaking as a Unix admin, I have IP KVM (so I get vga console) and also, on newer machines, IPMI (with built in IP KVM, reboot control, and serial console). All of these provide access to the BIOS as well. Layer2 telnet does not.
    – derobert
    Dec 1, 2011 at 17:42

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