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Linux Serial Terminal

Recently I found myself with a spare 80386-based PC and a VGA monitor. I'd bought an NE2000 clone network card a couple of months previously, which I'd installed in the 386. When I moved the 386 upstairs, I was stuck without network access because I didn't have enough thin ethernet cable to reach - well, I had a very long (50m) section and then a few 2m sections. Linking the network to the distant '386 would have meant moving the kitchen computer, and I didn't want to do that as the kitchen is the first room that I see after I wake up (whether in the evening or the morning).

Here's a two-disk Red Hat-based serial terminal system that I put together. The first disk is your root boot disk. It boots and then requests the second (root filesystem) disk. Insert that, press Return and it boots. The root shell has very little available - basically, just microcom, date, ifconfig. The kernel is 2.2.14.

As of 25-May, it doesn't have ifconfig on it any more: I felt that dd and cat were more important; and as of 04-Oct-03, these images are on my local webserver, so if I'm not online, you won't be able to download them (I deleted them from my Freeserve website because I'm running out of space).

Useful links: microcom Serial Terminal Emulator, Linux Terminal Server Project.

Disk images (gzipped - you'll need to shift-click 'em): kernel floppy (1), root floppy (2). SysLinux boot floppy (see below) BusyBox root filesystem (see below)

Tarballs: kernel floppy, root filesystem.

sunstorm-boot.img.gz is a Syslinux boot floppy that I use to load Linux on my old Laser 386 PC, named 'Sunstorm'. It loads a 2.2.14 kernel, initialises the ethernet card (a D-Link PCI NE2000 clone) and then looks for a DHCP server. If it finds a server, it gets its IP address and root filesystem name and then mounts the rootfs via NFS. If it doesn't get a reply, it reverts to a floppy rootfs, which is where 'bboxroot.img.gz' comes in - that is a tiny rootfs-on-a-disk system with BusyBox and very little else. It is slightly customised for my system; about the only files that I modified were the startup file /etc/init.d/rcS (a shell script) and /etc/hosts, which contains entries for each of the hosts on my intranet but is not used because resolver doesn't work (no libs).

To use these images, write the files to a 1.4M formatted floppy with the command 'dd if=<image file> of=/dev/fd0H1440 bs=1440k'. Make sure you decrunch the images before writing them. This assumes that you are running Linux - if not, you'll have to get hold of a disk image-writing program such as 'rawrite' (included with Red Hat Linux, of course :).