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Fedora 3 Modem Installation

One of the first things people want to do after they get Linux installed is to get on the Internet. Getting on the Internet requires a working modem. Getting a modem operating under Linux can be a bit complicated. The proplem arises from the fact that almost all modems manufactured today are "winmodems", designed to work only with the Windows operating system.

A winmodem is a software modem. Even though you can pay a lot for a winmodem, they are cheap to manufacture because they use very little electronics. The functions that should be performed in hardware are emulated by software. This places an extra processing burden on your computer's CPU.

To operate, a winmodem requires a piece of software called a "driver". Since over 90 percent of desktop computers run the Windows operating system, modem manufacturers don't feel it's worthwhile to develop a Linux driver for their modems. The Linux community has developed Linux modem drivers for many winmodems, but there are some modem manufactures that won't release the details about their modems so drivers can be developed.

Winmodems will not work with Linux unless you can locate a special "Linmodem" driver. The best source of information about Linux modem drivers is Linux Winmodem Support

A hardware modem contains its own on-board controller and DSP circuits. This takes a major processing load off your computer's CPU. Most hardware modems will work with Linux but can be difficult to find and are more expensive than winmodems. But it may be worthwhile to acquire a hardware modem because even with Windows a hardware modem will make your dial-up connection work faster.

A third type of modem is an external modem. An external modem connects to your computer's USB or serial port. External modems have their own controller and DSP circuits. An external modem is the best choice if you have several computers because the modem can be moved to a different computer without opening the computer's case.

Note: The serial port is a legacy port. USB was designed in part to replace the serial port, but even the newest computers still have a serial port because it's cheap to provide and, by lengthening the features list, it makes a computer easier to sell, so I don't expect the serial port to disappear any time soon.

Use the proper serial cable to install an external modem to your PC. Use a straight-through serial cable with DB9 connectors with the proper gender. Older computers used a DB25 connector. You can get any configuration of DB9/DB25 and gender converter. Connect the modem's line port to the phone line. Connect the power supply to the power connector of the modem.

In order to configure your modem, you'll need to be familiar with use of the Terminal window. To open a Terminal window, in Linux main menu select System Tools | Terminal. When you open a Terminal window it runs the default "Shell". A "shell" is a "command interpreter". You type in commands, press Enter, and Linux carries out the command. The default Fedora shell is "Bash".

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