Linux comes with many serial text and gui based serial communication programs. My favorite is minicom – friendly menu driven serial communication program.
If you are addicted to DOS / Windows TELIX (a telecommunications program originally written for DOS and was released in 1986), minicom is for you under Linux / UNIX.
minicom Common features / usage
=> Setting up a remote serial console
=> Access a computer / server if the LAN is down
=> Connect to embedded Linux / BSD device via null modem cable
=> Connect to Cisco routers for configuration
=> Connect to dump device i.e. device w/o keyboard and mouse
=> Dialing directory with auto-redial
=> Support for UUCP-style lock files on serial devices
=> Separate script language interpreter
=> Capture to file
=> Multiple users with individual configurations
Let us see how to configure minicom for my Soekris net4801 Single Board Computer / embedded Linux device.
Use apt-get under Debian / Ubuntu Linux, enter:
$ sudo apt-get install minicom
If you are using Red hat Linux (RHEL) / CentOS / Fedora Linux, enter:
# yum install minicom
How do I use minicom?
First, make sure Linux has detected serial ports. Use setserial command to set and/or report the configuration information associated with a serial port.
The -s option use to setup minicom. Type the following command at shell prompt:
$ minicom -s
(Fig. 01: minicom in configuration mode)
Some terminals such as the Linux console support color with the standard ANSI escape sequences. Type the following command start minicom with colours:
$ minicom -s -c on
(Fig: 02: minicom in configuration mode with color console)
When minicom starts, it first searches the MINICOM environment variable for command-line arguments, which can be over-ridden on the command line. Thus, if you have done:
$ export MINICOM="-m -c on"
minicom will assume that your terminal has a Meta or
minicom keyboard short cut keys
Use the following keys:
- UP arrow-up or k
- DOWN arrow-down or j
- LEFT arrow-left or h
- RIGHT arrow-right or l
- CHOOSE (select menu) Enter
- CANCEL ESCape
Configure serial port
- Press A to setup serial device name such as /dev/ttyS1
- Press E to setup Bps/Par/Bits
- Press [ESC] to exit
- Save setup as DFL
More on shortcut keys
minicom in action
You need to connect your serial device such as router or modem using modem cable. Once connected power on device and type minicom command without -s option:
$ minicom -c on
(Fig: 05: minicom connected to one of my embedded Linux device via null modem cable [ click to enlarge image])
The soekris embedded Linux / BSD board with AMD 266 Mhz CPU + 256M RAM. This device connected to my computer using DB9 null modem cable. During the development you need to use minicom to install Linux kernel, format filesystem and configure device.