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11.7 Using minicom and seyon

Some ISPs provide a choice of a PPP account or a shell account. The two most popular Linux programs for accessing a shell account are minicom, a graphical program that runs in a virtual console, and seyon, which runs under X. Although seyon has the more modern user interface, most Linux users prefer minicom, which supports more options than does seyon.

11.7.1 Using seyon

Once you've configured your modem, you're ready to run seyon. To do so, start X and issue the command:


Figure 11.19 shows the main seyon window. The top row contains several labels that indicate the status of your modem:


Indicates that your computer is ready to send and receive data


Indicates that the modem is ready to send and receive data


Indicates that your computer has requested to send data


Indicates that the modem is ready to receive data


Indicates that the modem has detected a ring signal on the telephone line

Figure 11.19: The main seyon window

Figure 11.19

The second row contains several programmable buttons, which have no associated default action. The remaining buttons, in the third, fourth, and fifth rows, let you operate seyon. For example, to make a connection, you click on the Dial button, which pops up seyon's Dialing Directory dialog box, shown in Figure 11.20.

Figure 11.20: The seyon Dialing Directory

Figure 11.20

However, the Dialing Directory dialog box will not appear until you create a file named phonelist in the .seyon subdirectory of your home directory. To do so, issue the following commands:

mkdir .seyon
> .seyon/phonelist

The third command uses a clever trick to create an empty file: it redirects the output of a null command to the file. Now, when you click on Dial, the Dialing Directory dialog box appears, although no entries will be shown. To create an entry, click on Edit and an edit window appears. Type the name of the entry and the phone number, separated by a space. If you like, you can specify other options, such as the desired connection speed, the number of bits per character, the data parity, and the number of stop bits associated with a character. However, usually such options are not required. Clicking on Help on seyon's main menu will pop up a window that describes seyon and its operation, including the contents of the phonelist file.

To initiate a connection, simply highlight the entry in the Dialing Directory dialog box and click on Go. When the connection has been established, the Dialing Directory dialog box will disappear. You can click Hangup to abruptly terminate a connection or Exit to exit seyon.

11.7.2 Using minicom

Despite a user interface less modern than that of seyon, minicom is the more popular Linux communications program. Before launching minicom, you must configure it. To do so, login in as root and issue the command:

minicom -s 

Figure 11.21 shows the Configuration dialog box that minicom presents. Like the Linux install program, minicom does not support use of the mouse. Instead, you use tab and cursor keys to navigate the screen. For example, you can use the up and down arrow keys to highlight various items on the configuration menu. To select an item, highlight it and press Enter.

Figure 11.21: The minicom configuration dialog box

Figure 11.21

Generally, the default configuration options are acceptable. You can simply highlight Save Setup As Dfl, press Enter, then highlight Exit From Minicom, and press Enter. However, the next several subsections briefly describe the available options just in case you may need to change them. Configuring filenames and paths

The minicom dialog box for configuring filenames and paths is shown in Figure 11.22. Using it, you can configure the default directories used by minicom for downloads, uploads, and scripts. You can also configure the name of the program used to process minicom scripts and the path for kermit (a program used to perform file transfers) though it's unlikely you'll want to do so.

Figure 11.22: Configuring filenames and paths

Figure 11.22

To change an option, type the letter that appears to the left of the option, type the desired value of the option, and press Enter. No changes are stored until you select a Save item from the main menu. Configuring file transfer protocols

The minicom dialog box for configuring file transfer protocols is shown in Figure 11.23. For each supported protocol, you can specify the path and command line arguments used to perform uploads and downloads. You can also specify how ASCII uploads are performed and set several transfer options.

Figure 11.23: Configuring file transfer protocols

Figure 11.23

The columns have the following meanings:

  • Name specifies whether the program requires a filename as an argument

  • U/D specifies whether a given row specifies an upload protocol (U) or download protocol (D)

  • FullScr specifies whether the program runs in its own window

  • IO-Red. specifies whether the program obtains its input from the standard input stream and directs its output to the standard output stream

  • Multi specifies whether multiple files can be transferred by a single command

As mentioned, you probably won't need to change any file transfer options. However, you can change an option by typing the letter that appears to its left, typing the desired value of the option, and pressing Enter. No changes are stored until you select a Save item from the main menu. Configuring the serial port

The minicom dialog box for configuring the serial port is shown in Figure 11.24. If you have a high-speed modem, you may obtain faster data transfers by increasing the data rate from the default 38400 bps to 57600 bps or 115200 bps. You can change this and other options in the same way you change filename and path options and file transfer protocol options.

Figure 11.24: Configuring the serial port

Figure 11.24 Configuring modem and dialing options

The minicom dialog box for configuring modem and dialing options is shown in Figure 11.25. If your modem uses standard (Hayes-compatible) commands, you'll probably find the default options satisfactory. However, the default options will probably not take advantage of special capabilities afforded by your modem. You can consult your modem documentation and revise the command strings to incorporate the codes that activate your modem's special features.

Figure 11.25: Configuring modem and dialing options

Figure 11.25 Configuring screen and keyboard options

The minicom dialog box for configuring screen and keyboard options is shown in Figure 11.26. Many users prefer screen colors other than those provided by default. You can separately specify the foreground and background colors of the menu, terminal window, and status line.

Figure 11.26: Configuring screen and keyboard options

Figure 11.26 Saving your changes

After you've made changes to minicom's options, use the Save Setup As Dfl item on the main menu to save your new configuration as the default configuration. To do so, highlight the Save Setup As Dfl item, press Enter, then highlight Exit From Minicom, and press Enter. Running minicom

Once you've configured minicom, you're ready to launch it. To do so, issue the command:

minicom -c on 

The arguments specify that minicom should present a color display; without them, its output is monochrome. Figure 11.27 shows minicom 's terminal window and status line.

Figure 11.27: The minicom main window

Figure 11.27

To operate minicom, you use single letter commands that you call up by typing Ctrl-A and then the command. For example, typing Ctrl-A followed by Z produces the command summary shown in Figure 11.28.

Figure 11.28: The minicom Command Summary

Figure 11.28

To access minicom's Dialing Directory dialog box, type Ctrl-A followed by D. Figure 11.29 shows this dialog box. The menu at the bottom of the dialog box lets you dial the selected entry, find an entry that contains a specified text string, add a new entry, edit an existing entry, or remove an entry. You can also manually dial a number that's not in the directory.

Figure 11.29: The minicom Dialing Directory

Figure 11.29

Once you've mastered minicom's basic functions, you might enjoy learning how to write scripts. Using scripts, you can (for example) automate logging into your shell account, eliminating the need for you to recall your userid and password. Consult the files in /usr/doc/minicom/doc and /usr/doc/minicom/demos to learn how minicom's scripting language works and how to write your own scripts.

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