The Linux Letter for July
I spend a lot of time talking and writing
about how wonderful Linux is for network connectivity. I've
praised the fact that since networking has been an integral part
of all UNIX operating systems, Linux has an advantage over other
operating systems that have seen networking as an extra feature
added over time.
But I also have to admit that I'm a little
spoiled when it comes to networking. I do my work at nospin.org
using a local area network, which is connected to a high speed
DSL network. That means that I haven't had to use a modem to
connect to the Internet for well over a year. So, that tends to
make me unaware of the problems that occur when connecting a
Linux computer to the Internet using a modem.
Fortunately, plenty of people have alerted
me to my insensitivity. The most common questions that I receive
are about problems connecting to the Internet with a modem. So
let's take a look at how a Linux and a modem work to get you on
Without delving into the arcane of the
Internet, you should know that there are several ways to
establish an internet connection. You've probably heard of
TCP/IP, the underlying set of protocols that makes the Internet
what it is. TCP/IP was designed to work with network devices,
such as network interface cards. But since we can't all connect
our computers to a local area network to get Internet access, we
have to find other ways of getting around the virtual world.
Since modems are a very common and relatively inexpensive way to
move personal-sized chunks of data around the world, it seems
only logical to use them to connect computers to the Internet.
Up until a few years ago, the only protocol
choice for modems was the serial line interface protocol, or
SLIP. It was designed to work with serial devices like modems,
but wasn't the most efficient protocol to use because it was
designed with relatively high speeds in mind. Fortunately,
something better came along.
Point to Point Protocol, PPP, was created
specifically with modems in mind. It was optimized to support
the kind of data that a relatively slow Internet connection
transmits. And since a huge fraction of Internet connections are
made by modems, PPP has become virtually the only way to make an
Internet connection with a modem.
All of this is a roundabout way to discuss
the way that Linux supports modem connections. As you might
expect, Linux supports PPP and supports any modem that does not
require some soft of software support to function. In other
words, if it's not a Winmodem, then Linux will probably support
So how do you make it all work? If you're
using a standard Linux installation, you've already got the
support built in. You must be sure that Linux knows which port
your modem is configured to. If you don't know, a quick study of
the Linux Modem HOWTO will speed you on your way.
Once you've configured your modem, you'll
need to configure PPP. You'll need to get some information from
your Internet service provider before you can proceed:
- Dialup telephone number
- Name server
- Static IP address if one is assigned to
- Once you've collected this information,
you can get to work
It seems safe to assume that if you are
reading this, you have access to the Internet. Since that is
probably the case, the best place for guidance on connecting
your computer to the Internet is the PPP-HOWTO. Once you have
configured your system, you can probably expect that things will
not quite work correctly on the first try. Fear not! Simply turn
to the PPP FAQ for more guidance. It contains a very detailed
And if you continue to experience troubles,
some of the most helpful people in the Linux community use the
Internet. See the newsgroups in the comp.os.linux hierarchy. A
search of deja.com is usually very helpful.
Linux PPP FAQ: http://metalab.unc.edu/LDP/FAQ/PPP-FAQ.html
Finally, let me take the opportunity to
point out The NOSPIN Group's distribution of RedHat Linux 6.0.
This distribution is different from those available in the
stores and through mail order. Because we mirror RedHat's Linux
directories daily, we always have the very latest files
available directly from RedHat. So, instead of purchasing a
stale, months old copy of the operating system, you can receive
the very latest edition of RedHat Linux from us. And as a little
extra, we'll even throw in a copy of WordPerfect for Linux 8.0
and the latest available Linux kernel.
Take a look at: