[NBLUG/talk] Linux on USB

Lincoln Peters anfrind at gmail.com
Wed Dec 28 22:51:14 PST 2011

On Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 10:06 PM, E Frank Ball III <frankb at frankb.us> wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 26, 2011 at 11:33:49AM -0800, glenn at spontaneousdancing.net wrote:
>  >
>  > I need to have a lightweight, x86-compatible (i586 specifically) GNU/Linux
>  > distribution. I can't use VGA (so X is useless), and require serial
>  > communication.
> I've only used serial port consoles on PA-RISC hardware.  I don't know
> if the average x86 hardware supports this (servers do).  Anyway I
> installed Debian PA-RISC and used a serial console and it worked fine.

It should still be possible, at least in principle.  Several years ago
(2003?), I set up a program called "mgetty" (not "mingetty") to run on
the serial port of a home-built Linux PC (I think it was running
Debian, but it might have been a version of Red Hat prior to the
RHEL/Fedora split), and used a null modem cable to hook it up to a
secondhand Macintosh SE that was running a serial terminal emulator.
As a result, I had full shell access to the Linux box through that old

I wasn't using it as the primary way to control the machine,
however--it still had a traditional console running X11, and I could
still SSH into it from machines that supported more modern networking
technologies (i.e. Ethernet and WiFi).  And I haven't tried anything
like that more recently, but a quick Google search indicates that
mgetty is still available for distributions at least as recent as
Fedora 15, so newer versions of Debian would likely have it as well.

Lincoln Peters
<anfrind at gmail.com>

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