Minicom is an easy to use, text based, terminal program. If you're familiar with Telix, a very old DOS program, you will feel quite at home with minicom. There are probably dozens of other terminal programs out there, but minicom is my favourite.

During the installation process I have described minicom has already been completely set up. So you don't have to worry about any of that any more. This page merely describes the most basic use of minicom. Surely you can find much more information about using minicom if you do some searches on the internet.

Commanding Minicom

Normally everything you type will go directly to the serial port. One CTRL character will be captured by minicom however. It is used to give commands to minicom:


Ctrl-A is the command key for minicom. Ctrl-A must be followed by a letter key, which will tell minicom what command to execute. Pressing the Z key after Ctrl-A will show you the help screen, summarizing the commands you can give:

|                     Minicom Command Summary                       |
|                                                                   |
|          Commands can be called by CTRL-A <key>                   |
|                                                                   |
|               Main Functions                  Other Functions     |
|                                                                   |
| Dialing directory..D  run script (Go)....G | Clear Screen.......C |
| Send files.........S  Receive files......R | cOnfigure Minicom..O |
| comm Parameters....P  Add linefeed.......A | Suspend minicom....J |
| Capture on/off.....L  Hangup.............H | eXit and reset.....X |
| send break.........F  initialize Modem...M | Quit with no reset.Q |
| Terminal settings..T  run Kermit.........K | Cursor key mode....I |
| lineWrap on/off....W  local Echo on/off..E | Help screen........Z |
| Paste file.........Y  Timestamp toggle...N | scroll Back........B |
|                                                                   |
|      Select function or press Enter for none.                     |
|                                                                   |
|             Written by Miquel van Smoorenburg 1991-1995           |
|             Some additions by Jukka Lahtinen 1997-2000            |
|             i18n by Arnaldo Carvalho de Melo 1998                 |

The most often used commands are:

  • Ctrl-A Q : Quit minicom
  • Ctrl-A L : Capture output stream to file
  • Ctrl-A S : Send a file to the serial port
  • Ctrl-A Z : Show help screen

Sending SB-Bus Addresses

Entering SB-Bus commands depends on your operating system. SB-Bus commands are ASCII characters in the range from 128 to 255 ($80 to $FF).


If you connect to the Pi-Bus Driver from Windows, probably by using Putty as ssh client, you can use the numeric key pad to enter the address codes. Hold down the ALT key while typing the 4 digit address on the numeric key pad, using a leading 0 to make it 4 digits long.
For instance if you want to send address 140 to the SB-Bus press and hold the ALT key and then type 0140 on the numeric key pad.


Most Linux programs allow you to type any unicode character by pressing Ctrl-Shift-U, followed by the hexadecimal value of the code you want to enter. Therefore you'll have to convert the address to hexadecimal first.
Address 140 from the previous example can be entered from Linux by the following key strokes: Ctrl-Shift-U 4C .

Clash With Screen

I tend to use the screen command quite often. It allows you to start multiple terminal sessions and it will survive accidental network disconnections.

Unfortunately screen also uses Ctrl-A as its command key, so it will clash with the command key of minicom. Screen solves this by the Ctrl-A A key sequence. So in order to send Ctrl-A to minicom while you're in a screen session you simply type Ctrl-A A, followed by the normal command letter for minicom. Quitting miniciom from within a screen session for instance is done by entering Ctrl-A A Q.