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controlling installation from a serial terminal

> As I have written before, I have been working on a method for
> controlling a Debian installation from a serial terminal.  This would
> let a blind user install Debian, using a second computer with a
> terminal emulator and a speech synthesizer. 
> I think I have this worked out...

> The way I propose to set this up _for slink only_ is to supply the
> above files to Enrique for him to incorporate into his upload.  I
> think I can have the files ready today (by midnight EST, Saturday).

Ack!  I have run into several roadblocks, and certainly cannot meet my
self-imposed deadline now.  I would appreciate suggestions on either of
these points:

  1) I use the boot parameter "console=ttyS0" to direct kernel messages
  to a serial port.  Unfortunately, on the i386 architecture, the kernel
  apparently does not leave that parameter in the environment of init.
  Therefore, I invented a second boot parameter "control=ttyS0" to
  communicate with init to configure the output device for user dialogs.
  Finally, a "#define SERIAL_CONSOLE" during compilation enables the
  section in dinstall.c that adjust /etc/inittab and /etc/securetty for
  a serial console.  These work fine for an installation started by
  I built a rescue disk without a root file system, for use with the
  "ramdisk0" method.  Unfortunately, when both the above boot parameters
  are given, the kernel never reads the root filesystem disk -
  apparently it cannot get a keypress from either the console keyboard
  or the serial port.
  2) When the base system boots, the initial prompt ("Before proceeding,
  you need to set a password..." from
  scripts/basedisks/po/rootprofile.pot) goes to /dev/tty1, but input is
  expected from /dev/console which has been redirected to /dev/ttyS0.  I
  see now that gettext handles this dialog, and am studying it.

			- Jim Van Zandt

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