Thanks everyone, for all the great information... Man, I love this place!
@mkasick: Crap!! Well, that torpedoes this one.
I've already used the various "workarounds" you cited (use connect automation with ConnectBot, for example). My reason for this was to attack connecting via telnet via PuTTY from my PC after starting telnetd on the device. It's simply a matter of convenience -- saving the step of typing "bash -l" after I connect.
I'm not going to go to all the trouble to rebuild a custom initramfs for just this.
However, you've given me an idea I'll try and report back (and should work): Modify/add an init.d user script to remount / as writable, copy the .bashrc from sdcard to /, then remount / as read-only. That should take care of persistence across boots.
Once again, mkasick, you are a most helpful fellow around here. I must say -- and it may make you blush -- I am a big fan and admirer of yours, with the things you've found and fixed for the community. You are unique among the devs in my view, given the nature of what you have looked into and fixed. I'm a pretty experienced, knowlegable software guy myself, and fancy learning enough about Android to make contributions in the not-too-distant future like you have.
As I mentioned in another thread, I'm looking at a major driver re-design for the keyboard based on your analysis and patch for the dropped keypress problem... I plan to have some discussions with you (if your interested) sometime in the next few weeks about what I'm planning, just to get your feedback, if nothing else. Basically, the idea is to add some full state-handling to the driver and interrupt handler to substitute for the lack of hardware latch support.
Keep up the good work, friend. You are a uniquely valuable member of this community, in my judgement
-- And that's not to shortchange any of the other devs here, it's just that the nature of your work resonates with me especially, given my own background, career, interests, and past work in software.