So you might be noticing a theme emerge between this and my last post. Yes, after watching terrible movies and reading some books, some of which are sub optimal, and then generally immersing myself in the internet, I decided I needed to be more connected. So I have several projects on the go to fix that. The earlier post of getting GPRS internet on my laptop from my cell via bluetooth was one such project. But it’s also financially impractical. However, my Telus ADSL package comes with 40 hours a month of dialup included. So I thought it was time to turn my attention to that. I’d ignored the old technology of modems forever, not thinking that they can still come in handy in pinch until the city is covered in municipal WiFi. Phone lines are often more prevalent then unsecured wifi in the city, especially in buildings or houses.

So, first, I hopped over to the Telus website and found that the Vancouver dial in number is 604-280-9000. Next, I had to determine the modem that my Toshiba Satellite m40x has. As it turns out there are tools for that: scanModem, a little shell script that does the trick. Downloaded it, unzipped it and ran it. It told me I had an Intel/Alsa modem. So I loaded up the snd-intel8x0m kernel module. Then I installed the sl-modem-daemon package that uses the module and provides the rest of the softmodem. It neede to be setup:

# dpkg-reconfigure sl-modem-daemon -plow

And it just asked the county I was in, and the set things up. The modem was then controllable from ‘/etc/init.d/sl-modem-daemon’ and could be started and stoped accordingly. The device that was created was ‘/dev/ttySL0’ but ‘/dev/modem’ was also turned into a symlink that pointed to it so either was usable. With the modem setup and on, I then needed a dialer to connect me to my ISP.

First, a simple but verbose and command line dialer: wvdial. To set it up I ran

# wvdialconf /etc/wvdial.conf

It worked and the config file was created. But it needed editing. So I loaded it up in a text editor and uncommented the phone number (one number, no dashes or spaces), username, and password fields and filled them out accordingly. Lastly, for this modem, I needed to add the Carrier Check = no line at the end of the file for it to connect properly. Then everything was in order and connecting was as simple as

# wvdial

Success. I had dailup internet. Ctrl-C in the terminal to disconnect.

The softmodem is flaky though and its often a good idea to restart it between dials

# invoke-rc.d sl-modem-daemon restart

Still, command line isn’t as sexy as GUI, or at least not as convenient. So I then installed ‘gnome-ppp’ and found it in the ‘Applications->Internet’ menu. I put in the pertinent information again (phone number, username, password) and then tweaked a few options in it’s setup window like device in the ‘Modem’ section, and turning on ‘Dock in notification area’, and turning off ‘Check carrier line’ in the ‘Options’ section. Then I hit the connect button and it connected and minimized to the notification area. Beautiful slow internet was mine!