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what I need is something to display data from a 232 port on another device VT100, and the users only need the data display, not to change or enter data, so I want to remove the keyboard/mouse once configured and have the box come up and relog into the terminal mode.
In X itself I have gnome which seems pretty good, but I am back at the "how do I automate the entire process" question regardless.
Yikes! Well, I suppose its doable...but will require a little more expertise than I can give just off the cuff like this...but I can give you an overview maybe...
You have Mandrake 9.1 so once everything you need (ie: TE) is installed, you can first set it up to boot in run level 5 (this will start X automatically on boot) and then you can set up mdkkdm or gdm or whichever display manager you choose (I'd recommend KDM myself...all of which are in Mandrake 9.1) you can set it up to autologin a specific user...then in THAT user you can have it set to start up your TE automatically.