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
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