Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This One Ain't About Food, Folks

Aside from our regular programming, this blog entry will be about uber-geeky-technology. Specifically, how I managed to get my Linux-based laptop to hook up successfully to my new dial-up service.

There won't be a single mention of food. Ah, crap! Ok, no more mention of it from this point forward.

I am primarily writing this and posting it here because I know that Google will crawl it and this information might help someone else trying to solve the same problem that I did earlier today. So, if you're here for ... um, what you normally come here for, move along and another entry should post soon. We clear? I don't want any comments about eyes glazing over or vision blurring.

So here is the issue. Due to current financial issues, I have decided to downgrade from cable modem service to basic 56k dial-up. Yeah, it won't save me a ton per month, but every little bit helps and if you are judicious with where you surf, it isn't that bad. I contacted AT & T last week and ordered the very basic home service package for the wiring that is already in my house. Based on the transaction we made, the line was supposed to go active at some point today. When I checked this morning, I discovered that I was live. After ordering my basic phone service last week, I searched around and found a dial-up Internet Service provider, Copper.NET, who provides basic service for about $9.95 a month. Perfect!

Here's the other issue: my laptop currently (and for that matter will always be) running a version of Linux called Slackware. I searched carefully through Copper.NET's terms of service and while they do acknowledge that their service doesn't discriminate (meaning it has been known to work with Linux), the customer support they provide only gives help for individuals running one of the two more predominant operating systems, namely Windows and Mac.

So, armed with an active phone line and a newly acquired account to Copper.NET, I plugged in the modem on my laptop and started configuring away. Since Copper.NET won't give you help with your Linux-based computer, I will. I figured the easiest way to set up my connection would be through a nice little GUI-based application called KPPP (it's the version for the KDE environment, even though I'm running WindowMaker). Starting up KPPP, I provided the following pieces of information:

Login ID: myusername@copper.net
Password: mypassword
Modem: /dev/modem (which is actually a link to /dev/ttySHSF0)
Authentication: PAP (not CHAP and not PAP/CHAP)

I also entered the applicable local dial-in number for Akron. In order to get the modem built into my laptop working properly, I ended up buying the modem driver from Linuxant. They have a free driver that limits you to a 14400 connection, but for $20, you get to use all 57600 baud. Definitely a worthwhile investment. The biggest problem I had was knowing whether to use PAP or CHAP (and don't select the one marked as both, JUST PAP) and that my username also had to have the "copper.net" at the end of it.

Once I got all that straightened out, I dialed, I negotiated, I connected. How sweet it is! Chalk up another success story for open source. And, yes, gentle reader, if you've actually made it this far, I do understand that buying and using a proprietary driver from Linuxant does taint my kernel. However, I'm also a pragmatist and realist and sometimes getting the job done in absence of any other choices is the only move to make.

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