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How can I set up a log-in focused on a USB port so I can hook up a DB9-to-USB cable I already own up to log in using putty or minicom?

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You will need to do 2 things to make this work:

  • Make the USB->serial cable always use the same device name when you connect it.
    This article on noctis.de and this article on redhat magazine describe how you can do this.
  • Have the system run getty on that serial device.
    Add a line like this to your /etc/inittab:

    T1:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -L **{Device name from step one}** 115200 vt100
    

I have not done this with my RPi (or any Linux system) so I don't know how feasible this is.

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