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The Case of the Missing Tip

For the past 10 years or so of my career, I’ve mostly been employed as a sysadmin. During this time, I spend a great deal of time working with Solaris 10. Solaris 10 has a command called tip. Tip can be used for basic serial communications. You basically just pass it a baud rate, and a serial device, and it connects the STDIN and STDOUT.

Working with Arduino, sometimes you want to connect to the serial port and communicate with it. There is a whole Serial library for reading from and writing to Arduino via the usb cable. The Arduino IDE also comes with a serial monitor for use. However, using NetBeans, I find it kind of silly opening Arduino IDE just to use the serial monitor. Unfortunately, tip seems to be a Solaris-only utility. At a loss, I turned to google.

Google Proves Unhelpful

Shocking, I know. The number one solution to this is “Well, just write something in C!” I know what you’re thinking, and yes it did occur to me that this would be right up my alley. However, I know there is a utility that exists that does exactly what I want. In the interest of not re-inventing the wheel, I search on. The number two solution to the problem is a program called Minicom. Minicom is a fairly heavy menu-driven program that does serial comms. From what I can tell, it seems to be more like Microsoft’s Hyper Terminal than tip. Since I’m just looking for a simple command line utility, I move on.

Finally, after much searching, I come across my solution. There is a program called cu that seems to function exactly like tip. It even share the same disconnect code: ~. to hang up a connection. Even better: it’s in the repositories!

On an Ubuntu system, all you need to do is:

sudo apt-get install cu

…and you’re good to go. To connect is simple, just enter:

cu -l /dev/ttyWHATEVER -s BAUD_RATE

…and you’ll connect to your Arduino. To hang up, just enter ~. and it will disconnect (Ctrl+C and Ctrl+D have no effect).

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