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Re: Install debian with serial port as console?

On Fri, 2 Jan 1998, Larry Owens wrote:

> Does anyone know if it is possible to install debian on a PC that does
> not have a video card or keyboard?  I would like to set up a linux
> system that would use a modem attatched to a serial port as the only
> console.

I have used the serial-console patch on some 1.2/1.3 systems here running
kernel 2.0.29 and 2.0.30 but have come across some problems that became
more apparent as I installed more systems:

1. when the serial-console patch is in use the line in the file
/etc/init.d/boot that is supposed to run modutils is mysteriously not
executed, whereas when not using the serial-console patch it IS
successfully executed!  Solving this got enabled me to make more things
modules rather than compiled in.

2. when doing an upgrade via dselect certain packages fiddled with
/dev/console and /dev/tty0 which was contrary to the way prescribed for
the serial-console to work.

Also, when I found that the DEC Prioris XL6x00 series have a BIOS that
supports console redirection I thought I'd try to install a system from
scratch through a terminal connected to the serial port - however the
Debian install disk just switched back to using the VGA screen after
booting from the floppy, so I couldn't use it until I'd installed and
recompiled the kernel with the serial-console patch applied.

So the Debian install disk must specifically send it's output to the VGA
screen, bypassing what the BIOS "thinks" the console is....hmmm.

And finally, when using the "console redirection" BIOS setting on these
DEC machines, LILO fails to boot the machine from the hard-disk - only
floppy will work.  When attempting to boot from the HD it gets stuck at
"LI", while disabling the BIOS setting will instantly fix the problem!
How Bizare ;-)

Richard Shepherd (richards@waikato.ac.nz)
Phone: 07-838-4764

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