VT100 emulation

Andrew Nesbit ullbeking at andrewnesbit.org
Thu Sep 6 12:10:45 CDT 2018

Hello all,

The current discussion about why VT100’s are so popular got me to rethinking a related topic.  I’ve been thinking about this in the back of my mind for quite some time.

First, what is the most faithful emulation software that runs on *nix systems?  Or is it the case that if you are running, say, GNU/Linux in console mode, or xterm on X11, that you can get a fine emulator simply by having an accurate terminfo entry?

Second, does there exist anything like a “VT100 operating system”, that emulates the VT100 directly on the bare metal of the machine?  In this case you’d use the external serial port to connect to the target machine.

One example use case I have in mind here is connecting a serial cable to a server’s BMC serial port for maintenance purposes, if it supports the VT100 protocol, in crash cart scenarios.  Is it possible to do something like this by using the server’s PS/2 keyboard port and VGA monitor port?  So, essentially a KVM without the “M”?  Is there some obvious constraint that I’ve missed?

Kind regards,


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