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The easy way to get serial terminal in Linux

When doing embedded Linux development, most of us spend out time tethered to a target system with a serial cable, which is used for a serial console.  Minicom is the defacto serial terminal software for Linux.  However, Minicom is a little fussy in that you typically have to set it up for each port you want to use.  This is no big deal, but is generally difficult for new users to understand, and yet another hurdle.  And with 8-port USB->serial adapters, I have a lot of ports to set up.

Just recently, I discovered that screen can be used as a serial terminal program:

screen /dev/ttyUSB0 115200

A few notes on using:

  • to exit screen: Ctrl-a k
  • to write a hardcopy of the screen image: Ctrl-a h
  • to get help: Ctrl-?

All the neat features of screen are two numerous to list here, but one more that I’ll point out is the scrollback/copy feature (activated by Ctrl-a [ ).  This allows you to scroll back and the navigation works much like VI — what could be nicer?

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