Configuring a SUSE Linux 10 modem

Modems can cause problems with a SUSE Linux 10 installation. This best practice will help you avoid problems during installation.

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Modems are notorious for being something of a problem area for Linux enterprise systems because many of the internal PCI modems that are on sale are not true modems, but are what is known as winmodems or soft modems. The idea behind winmodems is that some of the functionality of the modem can be offloaded from hardware into software— the software in question being the Windows operating system. As these devices are designed to work only...

with Windows and in theory require a Microsoft operating system to work, it is not surprising that there are difficulties getting them to work on SUSE Linux 10. So there are three possibilities:

  • You have an old-fashioned external serial modem. These will always work under Linux.
  • You have a winmodem. This may or may not work with Linux.
  • You have an internal true hardware modem. In almost all cases this will work with Linux.

    Winmodem support has improved considerably, and some previously unsupported modems now work with Linux enterprise systems. SUSE Linux 10 supports at least the SmartLink and Lucent ltmodem types. During the installation, if YaST detects that you have a supported winmodem, it will install the necessary package to provide driver support.

    Assuming that your modem is supported, YaST asks you for the necessary information to set up the modem and your dial-up connection. In the first screen of the setup you are asked for a dial prefix if necessary (a prefix you might need to get an outside line, for example) and to choose between tone dialing and pulse dialing (tone dialing will be the correct choice unless your telephone exchange is very antiquated). The other two choices here (Speaker on and Detect Dial tone) you will almost certainly want to leave as they are (selected by default).

    The next screen asks you for your country and offers a small selection of preconfigured providers (ISPs). This means that the access number is already known to the system for these providers. One or two have gone further and enable you to use a preconfigured username and password to sign up with them, or even to get full anonymous access with payment being collected through your phone charges.

    If you already have an account with an ISP that is not listed, you need to press the New button and add the details of the provider's name, the access phone number, and your username and password.

    When this is done, press Finish and the modem configuration should be complete. You will then be able to connect using the kinternet program, which you can access through the KDE menu (Internet➪Dialup). You can set kinternet to run whenever you log in to KDE; if you do this, you can log in by clicking its tiny icon, which will be resident in the system tray area of the KDE panel (by default in the bottom-right corner of the screen).

    More information about using winmodems under Linux enterprise systems can be obtained from w w w .linmodems.org. You may be able to obtain a driver for your modem from this site, even if it is not supported by SUSE Linux 10. You can also download a tool called scanModem, which detects the exact type of modem that you have. When you know this, you can search the site for information about whether it is possible to get it working.


    Running your SUSE Linux 10 installation

     Home: Introduction
     Step 1: Configuring your root password
     Step 2: Configuring your network access
     Step 3: Setting up your host and DNS addresses
     Step 4: Configuring the default gateway
     Step 5: Testing your connection and online updates
     Step 6: Configuring your modem
     Step 7: ISDN and ADSL connections
     Step 8: Adding a new user
     Step 9: SuSEconfig
     Step 10: Reviewing the release notes
     Step 11: Configuring your hardware
     Step 12: Graphics and sound card configuration

    The above tip is excerpted from from Chapter 1, "Installing SUSE 10" our original excerpt of The SUSE Linux 10 Bible by Justin Davies, courtesy of Wiley Publishing. This chapter explains how to successfully install SUSE 10 on your box. Find it helpful? Buy it on Amazon.

  • This was first published in September 2006

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