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  1. laptop as a terminal

    I am about to get a headless server. I have an old laptop that I'd like
    to use as a serial terminal.

    The laptop will be off unless I need to access the server.

    The goal is to set up this laptop to boot into minicom as quickly as
    possible, and background all of the other stuff - network initialization,
    and so - so that I can see what is going on. (the laptop is old and slow,
    and I don't want to wait on it to boot up for several minutes.)

    Can anyone suggest a way to do this? I'm not sure how to go about
    backgrounding stuff but in such a way that it still boots in the right
    order...

    --Yan

  2. Re: laptop as a terminal

    On Sun, 08 Oct 2006 07:23:57 -0700, Yan Seiner wrote:
    > I am about to get a headless server. I have an old laptop that I'd like
    > to use as a serial terminal.
    >
    > The laptop will be off unless I need to access the server.
    >
    > The goal is to set up this laptop to boot into minicom as quickly as
    > possible, and background all of the other stuff - network initialization,
    > and so - so that I can see what is going on. (the laptop is old and slow,
    > and I don't want to wait on it to boot up for several minutes.)
    >
    > Can anyone suggest a way to do this? I'm not sure how to go about
    > backgrounding stuff but in such a way that it still boots in the right
    > order...


    You could try to boot with Freedos and a terminal program. Create a
    boot disk and boot the laptop. If it works use a compact flash (with a
    CF to IDE adapter) to boot off of. The same thing can be done with
    Linux. You need to remove all the unnecessary rc files.

    --
    Linux Home Automation Neil Cherry ncherry@linuxha.com
    http://www.linuxha.com/ Main site
    http://linuxha.blogspot.com/ My HA Blog
    http://home.comcast.net/~ncherry/ Backup site

  3. Re: laptop as a terminal

    On Sun, 08 Oct 2006 07:23:57 -0700, Yan Seiner wrote:

    > I am about to get a headless server. I have an old laptop that I'd like
    > to use as a serial terminal.
    >
    > The laptop will be off unless I need to access the server.
    >
    > The goal is to set up this laptop to boot into minicom as quickly as
    > possible, and background all of the other stuff - network initialization,
    > and so - so that I can see what is going on. (the laptop is old and slow,
    > and I don't want to wait on it to boot up for several minutes.)
    >
    > Can anyone suggest a way to do this? I'm not sure how to go about
    > backgrounding stuff but in such a way that it still boots in the right
    > order...
    >
    > --Yan


    Understand that the kernel boot is still going to take some time as it
    looks for installed hardware/peripherals/etc. That being said, the best
    way to avoid all avoidable overhead is to boot into single user mode since
    that won't start networking or other daemons.

    Learn and understand the structure of the startup files in /etc/init.d and
    how they are selected as symlinks in /etc/rc?.d then you'll quickly see
    how to customize a runlevel that only provides the functionality that you
    need.

    minicom shouldn't need any other backgrounded daemons running and should
    work fine from runlevel 1.




  4. Re: laptop as a terminal

    Yan Seiner wrote:
    > I am about to get a headless server. I have an old laptop that I'd like
    > to use as a serial terminal.
    >
    > The laptop will be off unless I need to access the server.
    >
    > The goal is to set up this laptop to boot into minicom as quickly as
    > possible, and background all of the other stuff - network initialization,
    > and so - so that I can see what is going on. (the laptop is old and slow,
    > and I don't want to wait on it to boot up for several minutes.)
    >
    > Can anyone suggest a way to do this? I'm not sure how to go about
    > backgrounding stuff but in such a way that it still boots in the right
    > order...
    >

    If all you want is a dumb terminal then use something running under DOS.
    You can get Freedos for free, dig out a suitable terminal program and
    use that. Probably a fraction of the boot time for Linux.

    --
    Dave
    mail da ve@llondel.org (without the space)
    http://www.llondel.org
    So many gadgets, so little time

  5. Re: laptop as a terminal

    Hello,

    as said before, if you don't need anything except serial console, you should
    boot to some DOS. It can't get faster.

    If you want to use linux, make it easy, just for your purpose.
    Compile a linux kernel without anything you won't need (you only need serial
    support, console via graphics hardware, keyboard) and compile a minicom (or
    something else) statically. Then copy it to /sbin/init (you won't start
    other programs) and mount root read-only (cannot destroy your fs). Make sure
    you create appropriate devices etc.
    You could even use BusyBox to create a linux system as simple as possible.

    But if you still need things like networking, framebuffers, shells, maybe
    even X, you're not done. Then I'd recommend to create a partition (5 Mb
    should be much too large) and put a simple DOS inside it. FreeDOS, as
    recommended, is a good idea. Or maybe you have some old DOS disks lying
    around (4 or 5 should be sufficient).

    Regards,
    Sebastian


    "Yan Seiner" schrieb im Newsbeitrag
    newsan.2006.10.08.14.23.57.52550@poseidon.seiner.lan.. .
    > I am about to get a headless server. I have an old laptop that I'd like
    > to use as a serial terminal.
    >
    > The laptop will be off unless I need to access the server.
    >
    > The goal is to set up this laptop to boot into minicom as quickly as
    > possible, and background all of the other stuff - network initialization,
    > and so - so that I can see what is going on. (the laptop is old and slow,
    > and I don't want to wait on it to boot up for several minutes.)
    >
    > Can anyone suggest a way to do this? I'm not sure how to go about
    > backgrounding stuff but in such a way that it still boots in the right
    > order...
    >
    > --Yan




  6. Re: laptop as a terminal

    Sebastian wrote:
    > Hello,
    >
    > as said before, if you don't need anything except serial console, you should
    > boot to some DOS. It can't get faster.
    >
    > If you want to use linux, make it easy, just for your purpose.
    > Compile a linux kernel without anything you won't need (you only need serial
    > support, console via graphics hardware, keyboard) and compile a minicom (or
    > something else) statically. Then copy it to /sbin/init (you won't start
    > other programs) and mount root read-only (cannot destroy your fs). Make sure
    > you create appropriate devices etc.
    > You could even use BusyBox to create a linux system as simple as possible.
    >
    > But if you still need things like networking, framebuffers, shells, maybe
    > even X, you're not done. Then I'd recommend to create a partition (5 Mb
    > should be much too large) and put a simple DOS inside it. FreeDOS, as
    > recommended, is a good idea. Or maybe you have some old DOS disks lying
    > around (4 or 5 should be sufficient).
    >


    I like it... I'll just hack up init to do what I need.... IIRC the
    busybox init code is pretty small.... So it shouldn't be difficult to
    launch minicom right off the bat and proceed with initialization in the
    background....

  7. Re: laptop as a terminal

    On Sun, 08 Oct 2006 07:23:57 -0700, Yan Seiner wrote:


    >I am about to get a headless server. I have an old laptop that I'd like
    >to use as a serial terminal.


    >The laptop will be off unless I need to access the server.


    >The goal is to set up this laptop to boot into minicom as quickly as
    >possible, and background all of the other stuff - network initialization,
    >and so - so that I can see what is going on. (the laptop is old and slow,
    >and I don't want to wait on it to boot up for several minutes.)


    >Can anyone suggest a way to do this? I'm not sure how to go about
    >backgrounding stuff but in such a way that it still boots in the right
    >order...


    Try a distro that'll let you install as little as you want, like gentoo.
    Maybe a distro that is designed for booting off a floppy?
    Build a minimal kernel with just drivers for your hardware. Don't even
    bother with sound or networking.
    You should be able to get away without X; just use the console frame buffer.
    No services; put minicom into rc.local. It shouldn't take a whole minute.

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