I have connected a USB-to-serial cable from OS X to a Banana Pi board running Arch Linux ARM, distributed by Lemaker. The connection itself works well - I see all the boot messages on startup, I can drop to U-Boot and issue commands etc.; I assume that the connection itself is working as expected.

However, as soon as the boot sequence finishes and I should be prompted for my credentials, the screen goes blank (clearing previous entries) and no login prompt appears.

Googling around revealed that I should:

  1. Enable getty on the serial console: systemctl enable [email protected]
  2. Ensure that the kernel boot argument console=ttyS0,115200 is the last console parameter

Doing that, I still do not get the login prompt. Checking the logs reveals that systemd for some reason cannot start dev-ttyS0.device:

Nov 25 20:20:27 pi-server systemd[1]: Timed out waiting for device dev-ttyS0.device. Nov 25 20:20:27 pi-server systemd[1]: Dependency failed for Serial Getty on ttyS0.

journalctl -u dev-ttyS0.device does not reveal any additional information - only that it timed out. systemctl start dev-ttyS0.device also times out.

What am I missing? Why can't systemd start the device? And more importantly, why is the login prompt missing?

Running Linux pi-server 3.4.90 #2 SMP PREEMPT Tue Aug 5 14:11:40 CST 2014 armv7l GNU/Linux

Thank you for your assistance and guidance!

1 Answer 1


After reading more on the internets I found out that a newer version of systemd requires a kernel with configuration option CONFIG_FHANDLE=y - however, this option is not present on the kernel version included in the official banana-pi ArchLinux image (3.4.90).

I recompiled the kernel with the option included and now the login prompt appears as expected -> everything is great.

For those interested in compiling the newer kernel (3.4.103+ at the time of this writing) I followed the instructions provided here on a virtual Ubuntu Server 14.04. Did not encounter any problems. I only followed to a point where I had kernel compiled - I did not create a new SD image.


The official Banana Pi Arch Linux image now contains the new kernel version 3.4.103 so there is no need to recompile.

  • I will... in 23 hours.:) Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 22:27
  • Thanks also for coming back with the update. These are my favorite types of Q&A - an asker honestly reaches out for an answer, eventually finds one on his/her own after no one else had one at hand to offer, and describes the situation in detail for all others. Coming back again months later with newly available relevant information only makes it that much more commendable.
    – mikeserv
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 21:31
  • The link is dead.
    – Bram
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 19:28

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