Using serial terminals in Linux

Q I maintain some ancient industrial hardware, and have some simple test software I wrote many years ago in Quick Basic and monitor the test results using HyperTerminal, set up to emulate a DEC VT100 using COM1 (9K6Baud). I also use a Thurlby LA160 logic analyser and a Velleman PC oscilloscope all running under Windows. Can you tell me how I obtain a similar VT100 terminal display on Linux? Do I need to master Wine to run the Thurlby and Velleman software under Linux -and what about Quick Basic (compiled) programs? My current system is a dual-boot Windows ME and SUSE 10.0 machine.

A The Linux serial ports are numbered from /dev/ttyS0, which is equivalent to COM1. You may also have a link from /dev/modem to /dev/ttyS0. The usual replacement for HyperTerminal is Minicom, which is available with most distros, including SUSE 10.0. Minicom has a VT100 emulation mode, so it should do exactly what you want. The SUSE package does not set up global defaults, so you'll have to run

minicom -s

as root first. You also need to be a member of the UUCP group in order to write to the serial device. You can set this in Yast > Security And Users > User Management, but you have to log out of KDE and back in for the change to take effect. It's likely that you'll need to use Wine to run any proprietary software, but this will use /dev/ttyS0 as COM1, so it will still be able to access your hardware. Your Quick Basic software will also require Wine to run as is, but it may be easier in the long run to port it to something like Gambas, a Linux equivalent of Visual Basic, or a language that runs on both platforms, such as Python.

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