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Network over RS-232

If you really wanted to suffer it might be entertaining to use a Linux machine with some arbitrary number of USB serial dongles hanging off it as the "server" for a pile of SLIP/PPP host connections and then run whatever kind of packet driver-compatible network protocol over the top of that. USB serial dongles and a hub are cheap, most OSes have some kind of SLIP/PPP driver available, you can have it all this way. FTP, telnet, even NFS, the world is your oyster. Your slow, slow, so painfully slow-ouch-it-hurts-don't-touch-it oyster.
uucp, man, uucp.
We have a serial multidrop network at work, curiously titled SLONET

Very apt.

Mind you, its been working for 35 years so can't complain.
Why not try a ESP8266 and use wifi over serial. That should allow you to at least use ftp over serial, would that be good enough? I believe SLIP/PPP works as well.

People are doing this, and I've tested it with mTCP. At 9600 it is a little on the slow side, but for machines that can support 115200 bps it is usable.
But during that googling I ran into a card with multiple COM ports meant to be used in a Xenix server. That triggered an idea: I have an ISA card at home with eight (?) ports.
I found it: Digi Board from Digi International. And indeed eight COM ports And as far as I can see brand new: the connectors still in foam sleeves, no traces on the ISA connector and the envelopes with software still unopened. When I got it yeaaaaaars ago I had no idea what to do with it so I just stored it.
I am, you never know what good it can bring. TIA!
I believe the disk image was posted with a bunch of disks I made available last year or so. I don't know who made the collection public, but someone did. I can find the disk again, but I really don't want to repeat this for every disk I posted.