Posted by: rolande | October 25, 2012

Getting the ATEN USB Serial Adapter Working with Mac OSX Lion

ATEN USB Serial Adapter

I’ve had this USB Serial adapter for many years which I use to attach to network equipment consoles for initial configuration and setup. I have never had an issue using it with Windows machines. However, I had tried using it on my Macbook running OSX Lion and noticed that it did not show up in my device list in ZTerm. I had a VM running Windows XP and I was not able to get it to work properly in that environment either. So, I was determined to figure out how to get it to work, as I no longer have any physical machines running Windows or with serial ports. It took me a few weeks of trial and error and searching around to finally resolve the issue. So, I thought I would add a post here covering the details.

The first challenge was that I did not even know the manufacturer or part number of this particular USB Serial adapter. That was solved easily enough by plugging it into my Macbook and opening up the ‘About This Mac’ option on the Apple menu and clicking the More Info… button and then the System Report button. I drilled into the USB menu option and found the device listed as ‘Composite Device’. I highlighted it in the USB Device Tree and found this:

Composite Device:
Product ID: 0x2008
Vendor ID: 0x0557 (ATEN International Co. Ltd.)
Version: 0.01
Speed: Up to 12 Mb/sec
Location ID: 0xfd120000 / 4
Current Available (mA): 500
Current Required (mA): 100

So, now I know that it is made by ATEN International Co. Ltd. So I do a quick Google search looking for any info on this product. I find out that ATEN has basically disappeared. However, I did discover a number of posts referring to a company by the name of Prolific having a product that was 100% compatible if not identical to this particular ATEN device.

So, I did some more searching, looking for people having problems getting this working with Mac OSX Lion. I find a post that mentions that because this particular adapter was only supported with the original 32 bit drivers that Lion essentially disabled support because of the default 64 bit subsystem. So, now I know why it isn’t working. The question is can I actually get a driver that supports Lion in 64 bit mode for this adapter. Thankfully, the answer is yes. Prolific Technology’s PL2303 device is essentially the same product as the ATEN UC232A adapter. So, you can use the same Mac OSX driver they distribute which happens to support Lion.

Download and Install Drivers

  1. Go to Prolific’s download page and download the latest Mac OS X drivers.
  2. Open the Zip File
  3. Mount the Disk Image
  4. Open the Installer Package and install the drivers
  5. Reboot

Change Kernel Extension Property List

  1. Plug your USB adapter into any available USB port on your Mac
  2. Open the System Profiler/System Information, in /Application -> Utilites
  3. Click USB in the Contents pane
  4. Select the GUC232A in the Device Tree; usually it will be listed under USB-Serial Controller or in my case it was listed as Composite Device
  5. Remember the ProductID and VendorID, or keep the System Profiler window open
  6. Open the Terminal, in /Application -> Utilites
  7. Use the following command to open the Property List of the Prolific driver:
    sudo nano /System/Library/Extensions/ProlificUsbSerial.kext/Contents/Info.plist
  8. Enter your admin password when asked. This is necessary; the ProlificUsbSerial kernel extension is owned by root.
  9. Scroll down and find the ProductID and VendorID in the plist file which are labeled idProduct and idVendor
  10. Change the ProductID and VendorID to match your GUC232A’s ProductID and VendorID
  11. The plist file needs the numbers as integer values, but System Profiler reports the numbers as hex. Use the Calculator to convert the numbers. System Profiler reports the Product ID as 0x2008 and the Vendor ID as 0x0557. The integer value of ProductID is 8200 and the integer value of VendorID is 1367
  12. Save the changes and quit (Control-X) nano

Reload Kernel Extension

  1. Unplug the GUC232A
  2. Use the following command to load the kernel extension:
    sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/ProlificUsbSerial.kext
  3. Plug the GUC232A into any available USB port on your Mac

Once you’ve completed these steps and you have the adapter plugged in, you should see a file called tty.usbserial in your /dev folder. Now the adapter should be functional. I use ZTerm to access the serial devices. The USB Serial device shows up in the drop down list of devices under the Modem communications menu.

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Responses

  1. dude , U ROCK!!! 4 hours I spent googling various solutions, the plist trick did it!
    THANK YOU!!!

    Like

    • I’m glad I could help out. It took me a little bit of trial and error and reading to put the pieces together. So, I figured it was worth posting to save others the headache if possible.

      Like

  2. YOU ARE AWESOME! Can’t thank you enough my friend. Saved me a ton of frustration, that’s for sure. Looking forward to cruising your site after this deadline passes 🙂

    Like

  3. Man, this has been a breeze. Thanks a million! Now I don’t have to fire up VMWare Fusion just to do a simple thing with a console connection with Cisco kit.

    Like

  4. Thanks dude. Really awesome. I have spent a lot of time figuring out, finally your post helped me to fix this very easily.

    Like

  5. Thanks for the tip.

    However I found you can *add* additional vendor/ product ID pairs to the current Prolific pair listed in the Info.plist.

    Just duplicate the XML structure for 067B_2303 and to the matching just beneath the . Make the changes as you outlined for the Aten Cable to the newly copied section.

    However you need to change the copied section just above the copied section to create a different key for the driver. Change the key by entering the hex value for the Vendor Id in hex, an underscore, and then the Product Id in hex reported by the System Report tool. For example the duplicate 067B_2303 would be changed to 0557_2008 for the Aten Cable.

    Save the file as described in the article. If you save to different file and later rename the saved file to Info.plist, don’t forget to chown root:wheel, and make the file executable by chmod +x. Otherwise kextload will report a problem with the driver.

    Bingo, Aten USB to RS-232 access without dropping support for generic Prolific cables.

    Regards,

    Bill

    Like

  6. i tried to change the number of the id vendor and id product, but it wont change, what should i do to make them changeable ?

    Like

  7. seriously you made my 1 week of searching worth it
    thank you very much for your finding

    may god bless you always 🙂

    Like

  8. Thanks, Rolande! This is definitely an article worth high search results ranking!

    Like

  9. […] https://rolande.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/getting-the-aten-usb-serial-adapter-working-with-mac-osx-lio… […]

    Like

  10. Thanks so much!!!:D

    I used this to change the Product ID and Vendor ID of a cheap USB Ethernet adapter I bought on eBay. It’s a copy of the Ax88772B but identified as HG20F9 by Mac OS X. By changing the IDs I was able to get the Mac drivers for the Ax88772B to work!

    Like

  11. Thank you.

    Like

  12. YOU ARE THE MAN!!! I have had the ATEN for years and have always had to dig up old Windoze laptops to use it. Your instructions are 100% perfect! If we ever meet, I owe you a couple dozen beers 🙂

    Like

  13. This guide doesn’t seem to work with Mavericks. Can’t find ProlificUsbSerial.kext. Any ideas how to get this work with Mavericks?

    Like

  14. Wow! Thanks for this. Worked perfectly. Really saved me some time! Thanks again.

    Like

  15. with latest prolific driver for Maverick, no need to edit anything.
    Just install driver from
    http://www.prolific.com.tw/US/ShowProduct.aspx?p_id=229&pcid=41
    install zterm
    reboot
    that’s it

    Like

  16. I had almost given up on my trusty pl2303 cable.. but you saved the day man.. I was still walking around with my old mac book just in case i needed a usb to serial connection… thanks

    Like

  17. fantastic, mate. Thanks

    Like

  18. Thank you mate for sharing, you save my day!

    Like

  19. Thank you *so* much – you turned what might have been hours of painful searching and experimentation into 5 minutes of effortless configuration. Your documentation is flawless – precise, to the point, but entirely complete – an example of the sort of things that I should be doing more of.

    Like

  20. Thank you very much. Have been having to “borrow” a colleagues keyspan adapter for ages, because I could not get Mac drivers for the Aten. This has saved me countless return favours!

    Top stuff

    Like

  21. Thanks!!!!

    Like

  22. worked for me, thanks

    Like

  23. Thanks, got it working here too on Mavericks.

    Like

  24. Did not work on my system but this other driver did: http://www.xbsd.nl/2013/07/pl2303-serial-usb-updated-for-osx-1084.html

    Like

    • (actually it kind of works, I can connect and I get some output but only garbage)

      Like

  25. well hats off you you, it did exactly what you said!

    Like

  26. […] https://rolande.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/getting-the-aten-usb-serial-adapter-working-with-mac-osx-lio&#8230😉 […]

    Like

  27. Please, please don’t ever let this page vanish. I would be stuck here swearing at this USB dongle and my Mac otherwise.

    Like

  28. YOU ARE AWSOME MAN !!! THANKS A TON 🙂

    Like

  29. /System/Library/Extensions/ProlificUsbSerial.kext failed to load – (libkern/kext) not loadable (reason unspecified); check the system/kernel logs for errors or try kextutil(8).

    Like

  30. Still works great for Yosemite

    Like

  31. Fantastic, thank you so much. Worked great even on OS X 10.11.

    Like

  32. strangely the Info.plist is completely empty (point 9. of your “to do list”) so i don’t know where to enter anything… any idea what went wrong?

    Like

  33. New driver from Athen. Worked right away in OS X 10.11.2
    http://www.aten.com/products/productItem.php?model_no=UC232A#.Vn1vLzblfzJ

    Like

  34. Is there any way to get this system to work with Mac OS X 10.11.2? The manufacturer says they don’t have the required driver for the El Capitan OS level and don’t plan on developing it at the moment. Has anyone found a solution? The converter works well in Windows 10.

    Like


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