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The Linux Modem Problem?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the no-carrier? dept.

Linux Business 106

muonman asks: "There is a business in town which refurbishes old computers and distributes them to kids, roughly at cost. Part of this cost is a $5 license for Windows 98 (they do use OpenOffice, tho). I have outlined to them the benefits of migrating to Linux, but the showstopper is modems, which most of their customers require. They buy in bulk at $4 each, with unpredictable chipsets. I can find reliable(?) drivers for Smartlinks, but cant buy them for less than $6 each, and I hate to recommend the switch in suppliers without more info. I haven't had luck getting license info from linuxant for using Conexants. It seems there has been no activity on the linmodem front for some time. Any wisdom from the Slashdot crowd?"

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One word... (1)

paulius_g (808556) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206168)

LinModem?

gut-less modems (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206408)

The last time I checked, most "software" (that is, lacking 95% of guts) modems relied on proprietary drivers. And to make it worse, the quality of those is abysmal -- I've been through modems from three different companies, and they all cause a lot of kernel oopses/panics/what not.

Thus, I was really, really happy doing this [angband.pl] (slow link).

Re:gut-less modems (1)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 9 years ago | (#12209604)

I have a Lucent/Agere AMR based modem in my laptop, and I use Alsa + the SmartLink daemon to run it. Never had an oops or kernel panic (mostly because all the crashable code is in usermode in this configuration). As a side bonus, I no longer need to taint my kernel to run the modem. Sadly, I still end up tainting it by installing nvidia.ko.

There is one downside to this approach. The modem device is no longer a device node, but rather a pipe. Some apps don't like this, and say that there's no modems installed in the sytem. I do wish that more Linux winmodem drivers would use this approach, though. It's much easier to restart a user-mode program than to reboot after the kernel crashed because of the bad driver.

One Acronym (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208650)

RFTS:
"It seems there has been no activity on the linmodem front for some time."

Not much help, but... (4, Informative)

DavidNWelton (142216) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206170)

... be sure to let the rest of the world know about the modems that don't work at the Linux Incompatibility List:

http://www.leenooks.com/ [leenooks.com]

Re:Not much help, but... (2, Informative)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208860)

This list is more helpful IMO:

http://start.at/modem [start.at]

Contact the modem manufactures for donations (4, Insightful)

joelparker (586428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206195)

Have you asked the modem manufacturers to give it to you for free?

This is often possible for software when there's good public relations and/or a tax-writeoff.

relicensing Windows 98 (4, Interesting)

vinsci (537958) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206215)

Part of this cost is a $5 license for Windows 98
In Finland, there's no need to buy a new license. After a court decision a year or two back, it was determined that the license is transferred to the new user, presumably if the seller and buyer so agrees. If you get a donated machine in Finland, make sure to agree that license is transferred as well. Don't bother with the hologram license thingie, it carries no legal strentgh in Finland, as is the case with mouseclick licenses, AFAIK.

Re:relicensing Windows 98 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210991)

Same too in New Zealand, checked this with MS legal. As long as the machine has the COA and hasn't changed too much (new parts swapage) then the license is valid and can be transferred to a new owner.

Re:relicensing Windows 98 (1)

aspx (808539) | more than 9 years ago | (#12223184)

What if the computer does not have Windows 98 installed? I can see the need for a consistent OS that supports lots of random hardware, so Windows 98 for $5 is probably the most cost effective solution.

Not much help but (3, Insightful)

Red Moose (31712) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206218)

....wouldn't it be a symptom of the increasing use of broadband (worldwide). I'm sure the guys who originally were making linux drivers for the shitty winmodems that used to ship with Dell and Gateways from around 1998-2001 when linux started to get in the news have long since migrated to some broadband type of connection.

This isn't a flaw in the open source development method - plenty of companies don't bother supporting old devices either (or old software for that matter).

5$ for windows -- since when? (4, Interesting)

xoboots (683791) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206241)

How can a license for Windows 98 be $5?

You can't get it for that price even at ebay. Something is not quite right about this one...

Re:5$ for windows -- since when? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206602)

a direct blanket deal with microsoft maybe?

Re:5$ for windows -- since when? (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207333)

"How can a license for Windows 98 be $5?"

Send me $5 and I'll happily give you my copy. Heck, I'll pay YOU $5 to take it. Hurry up!!

Re:5$ for windows -- since when? (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208775)

I'll take your offer:
Win 98 + 5 dollars. Do you also offer free ship? Or do I need to send a SASE?

Grump.

Re:5$ for windows -- since when? (3, Informative)

elijahb80 (238904) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211548)

The company is probably a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher. I used to work for a place that did this, and windows 2000 licenses were also $5. Look here for some more information: https://www.techsoup.org/mar/default_second.asp

Re:5$ for windows -- since when? (1)

yamcha666 (519244) | more than 9 years ago | (#12217087)

My high school a few years ago had boxes of Windows 98 licenses and CD's. I"m sure they'd love to get rid of 'em for $5 a pop after upgrading to Windows XP

And there is also programs like Microsoft Academic Alliance where non-profits and academia can get brand new copies of MS software for $10-15.

I picked up a copy of WinXP Pro for $10, and Visual Studio for $11. So I'm sure there's programs out there for refurbishurs to buy cheap licenses.

ermm. (1)

smash (1351) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206251)

I can find reliable(?) drivers for Smartlinks, but cant buy them for less than $6
Problem solved.

Pay the extra $2 and sleep easier?

For $2, it really isn't worth screwing around, IMHO. If your supplier can't supply hardware that works, tough luck for them...

smash.

Re:ermm. (1)

Nate53085 (782588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206334)

But its not just $2, its -$3 (5-2) and a vendor change and an operating system change. Its not that the hardware doesn't work, its that it doesn't work in linux, thus making the operating system switch more difficult.

Re:ermm. (1)

muonman (162064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12216578)

I'd be more than happy with that solution. The trouble is, I have no way of knowing whether the $6 modem will actually work, and the proprietor has to buy them in quantity to get the price, so I'm afraid they will get stuck with $5 + $2 expense per box, instead of $2 - $5, if you follow.

The bottom line is being able to be SURE that the modems you buy will actually work! Hence the query.

Where is the problem? (3, Insightful)

NotoriousQ (457789) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206312)

Total Cost Delta:
+$2 modem
-$5 windows
-----------------
$3 profit

Why not just buy more expensive modems and save money at the same time.

Re:Where is the problem? (1)

The_reformant (777653) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206388)

Well presumably a large portion of their customers actually want the win98 licence. And to be honest its $5 who cares if your paying $5 for somtheing you dont need.

Re:Where is the problem? (1)

stoborrobots (577882) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208221)

And to be honest its $5 who cares if your paying $5 for somtheing you dont need.

Presumably the same people who care about paying $2 more for a different supplier of something they DO need?

Re:Where is the problem? (1)

muonman (162064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12216920)

If anyone can point to a source of modems that can reasonably be expected to work with Linux, I imagine we could pay up to $5 + $4 or even more and still be happy.

I didn't mention that the $5 license has very strict limitations, as well (k-12 only...), so we have a
need even if the modems cost more, but the difficulty is finding a reliable source of them whatever they are.

Test them. (3, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206322)

I'm sure you have some numbers of the percent of these cheap modems fail. If the failure rate even in windows is high enough, the conversion to a better modem might be worth it financially as well. Run the numbers, you may be surprised.

Intel 536EP/537EP & Ambient MD3200/MD563X/MD56 (2, Insightful)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206339)

Check out modem chipsets from Intel (or Ambient). Many of them have Linux drivers available from Intel for them (and they are less trouble than licensing from Conexant). No idea what kind of pricing you might be able to get on them. There are a lot of OEMs that put them on their cards.

Re:Intel 536EP/537EP & Ambient MD3200/MD563X/M (2, Informative)

ggambett (611421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208913)

I'm the de facto maintainer of the CLMD5620DT driver after the guy who wrote the driver disappeared (I just added an AT command parser, it used custom commands before).

My advice : try to find actual, hardware modems somewhere. A real 33600 is better than a 56K winmodem.

In the particular case of the CLMD5620DT, it used to work sometimes with 2.2 kernels (the version I released, with AT commands, is 0.3.0-gg), I made a quick port to 2.4 (you may find it as version 0.4.0) and I have no idea if it works with 2.6 kernels. I don't even have the modem anymore :(

Re:Intel 536EP/537EP & Ambient MD3200/MD563X/M (1)

andreyw (798182) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211605)

Maybe you should find someone as knowledgable as you are, maybe a friend with a CLMD5620DT-based modem, and transfer your maintaining duties to him?>

Re:Intel 536EP/537EP & Ambient MD3200/MD563X/M (1)

ggambett (611421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211910)

We'd need someone MUCH MORE knowledgeable than I am... I'm just the guy who added AT commands, I don't really know how the rest of the driver works! So if any Slashdot reader wants to take over the maintainership of the driver, feel free to contact me!

Re:Intel 536EP/537EP & Ambient MD3200/MD563X/M (1)

mcalwell (669361) | more than 9 years ago | (#12209375)

Agreed. Simple job of compiling and installing modem with 'make' and 'make install'. I bought a modem with this chipset for £5.00 including p&p off eBay. Also the gkdial package "apt-get gkdial" is a very nice easy to use dialer for newbies. Michael

Re:Intel 536EP/537EP & Ambient MD3200/MD563X/M (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12214917)

Maybe Intel would give them to you.
It is worth asking.
The big problem is how to get hooked up to the Internet. A lot of the big ISPs seem to be going to strange custom dialers and such.

Uh... (2, Interesting)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206351)

You really can't argue this one? The argument you need is called math.

$5 OS + $4 modem = $9

$0 OS + $6 modem = $6

If they are concerned about unit prices - this is easy. IF they have other concerns about switching over the Linux due to support or application compatibility issues, then the cost of the modem is irrelevant anyways.

Re:Uh... (2, Insightful)

lounger540 (730992) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206812)

That's fuzzy math.
He has to buy the modem either way so it's more like...

$0 OS + $4 modem + $6 driver (for $0 os) = $10

but seriously, if you're donating them to kids how many wanna really be stuck w/ linux? No snood, aim, kazaa and whatever else they want from download.com or where ever e-kids hang out these days. I know theirs free alternates but do they? Will these kids wanna spend 4 years learning how to use it all properly and not get r00ted in the mean time?

Re:Uh... (2, Insightful)

xoboots (683791) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206980)

"but seriously, if you're donating them to kids how many wanna really be stuck w/ linux? No snood, aim, kazaa and whatever else they want from download.com or where ever e-kids hang out these days. I know theirs free alternates but do they? Will these kids wanna spend 4 years learning how to use it all properly and not get r00ted in the mean time?"

but seriously, that's a joke, right? 4 years of learning for kids is no problem. Why give a kid a computer if not to help them better themselves? But most of all, even if it took them 4 years (which is hardly necessary--a kid could run something like Ubuntu or similar pretty much from bootup) isn't that better than the 4 minutes it will take before they are backdoored on windows 98 (not even supported by MS anymore, if I recall)? Nevermind what will happen to them when they install the likes of the festering vile that is kazaa.

Somehow I don't think that a kid who is getting a computer donated to them is spoiled enough to think that they are getting "stuck" with second rate hash simply because the os bootup doesn't say apple or microsoft. When they get to do more than they ever dreamed, they won't care about such trivialities (and yes, linux has all the toys that kids love like file sharing and media players and messengers).

Re:Uh... (2, Funny)

Curtman (556920) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207943)

Will these kids wanna spend 4 years learning how to use it all properly and not get r00ted in the mean time?

Sure they're just kids. Set them loose on Windows 98, and it won't take 4 years to get r00ted. 4 minutes maybe.

Re:Uh... (2, Funny)

freakmn (712872) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208949)

I dunno, do the script kiddies of this day and age remember Windows 98? I doubt many of them could manage their way around the DOS prompt...

Re:Uh... (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 9 years ago | (#12214205)

>No AIM

There's Gaim [sourceforge.net] . That will let them use AIM, but it will also mean that if their friends use MSN or ICQ instead, they can talk to all of them from within the same program.

>No Kazaa.

Heard of mldonkey [nongnu.org] ? eDonkey, Kazaa, Gnutella, BitTorrent, Napster, and Direct Connect, all in the one app. Got more clients than you can shake a stick at, too.

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12206857)

Even more persuasive:

Call in the dogs [nopiracy.com] on 'em.

$5 for Windows can't be legal. Call in the evil BSA and they'll convince them with a 2x4 that they have to actually buy the software they sell.

Then, you should be able to easily sell them on a less expensive OS. Or the math thing should work too.

Re:Uh... (0, Troll)

jazman (9111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210043)

You missed a bit:

$0 OS + $6 modem + 200 hours at $40/h trying to figure out why the fuck Linux won't recognise a totally 100% standard modem, or won't use a higher display resolution than 10x10, or whatever other stupid basic thing it won't recognise = $8006.

OK, I'm exaggerating. Let's take a concrete example. New PC (Dell Optiplex GX270). Works perfectly with Windows at full resolution (1280x1024 on a nice shiny LCD monitor). Install Linux (SuSE 9.0 so this isn't exactly ancient software) - only does 640x480. Took me EIGHT HOURS to figure out that Linux needed telling to use more video memory, whereas Windows worked that one out for itself probably in a couple of microseconds.

And that's not an eight hours that can be counted a one-off expense by dividing it by the number of computers sold. This dude is reconditioning old PCs - there is no way he has the luxury of being able to solve the problems on one platform then ship just that platform. That's going to be eight hours PER COMPUTER until Linux gets its fucking act together and "just works" without being told how to work.

Windows is considerably cheaper in this case. The sentiment expressed round here at times that "Linux is free if your time is worth absolutely nothing" is one I'm increasingly agreeing with.

Re:Uh... (1)

pnutjam (523990) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211930)

You must have used linux like once... It's like anything else, once they get good at it it won't take any time at all to trouble-shoot. Have you ever tried tracking down old windows 98 drivers? Old hardware is flaky and hard to support no matter what software you use.

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212119)

It took you 8 hours to fix a 5 minute problem, then you base your cost analysis on this inflated figure.


You're a business major, aren't you?

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12212383)

$0 OS + $6 modem + 200 hours at $40/h trying to figure out why the fuck Linux won't recognise [...]

OK, I'm exaggerating. Let's take a concrete example. New PC (Dell Optiplex GX270). Works perfectly with Windows at full resolution (1280x1024 on a nice shiny LCD monitor). Install Linux (SuSE 9.0 so this isn't exactly ancient software) - only does 640x480. Took me EIGHT HOURS to figure out that Linux needed telling to use more video memory, whereas Windows worked that one out for itself probably in a couple of microseconds.

If it took you eight hours to do this, you're probably not worth $40/hr doing Linux stuff. Eight minutes, more like, for that rate.

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12216028)

Heh. You made an anti-Linux comment so got modded troll. Even though its true. Documentation on Linux sucks, of course, because noone spends any time keeping it up to date. There are lots of problems with sound chips and modems. Solving problems is easy on google if someone has had the exact same problem, otherwise wade through 20 overlapping config files. 8 hours is quick for some problems.

I've run RH6, 7, 9, FC1 and FC2 and its been pretty consistent through all of them that you get mysterious problems that are only easy in hindsight. Windows has the same kinds of problems, it just has fewer knobs to turn to fix'em so they're easier to track down.

Re:Uh... (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 9 years ago | (#12221049)

I have always had better luck getting minimal functional video in Linux then Windows (16 bit 800x600 or better) when installing on random box with random on baord video.

Look at what Knoppix does on practically all hardware compared to Windows. I hate getting graphics up to snuff on Windows, nvidia's website won't even work at the deafault resolution for a fresh install (have to tab to the "Go" button to download drivers).

Also an aside, I just installed SUSE 9.2 and get better refresh rates then Windows allows without doing anything. Getting 3D to work was a pain, but 2D just worked, and better then Windows even with a driver.

I think the real problem in this situation is the hardware, I love using Linux, and am happy running Black Box on an old 486 with 16 MD RAM, but I wouldn't wish that on a new user. unless these machines are at a minumum 400 Mhz with 64MB RAM so that they have a shot at running KDE I don't think Linux is the ideal choice to be forcing on people.

Re:Uh... (1)

kackler (790433) | more than 9 years ago | (#12214052)

nuff said.

A proposal (2, Insightful)

Nate53085 (782588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206366)

What you should do is write up a proposal that outlines how the switch from Windows to Linux will be relatively painless and will save $3 per machine. This will spark interest if your working with any kind of volume. The $2 dollar increase in modem will likly make no difference if you can show that a lowered pricetag.

Re:A proposal (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12216069)

Better yet, set up dual boot on some machines and show them. I still have Win 98 on this PC right now, although I haven't booted into it in months. But if I needed to use a WinModem I could. I only keep it around for the 2 apps on it that will never be ported to Linux.

Try Free Geek (4, Informative)

conform (55925) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206476)

contact the people at Free Geek [freegeek.org] -- all the machines they give away come with modems, and all the modems they get are scavenged from donated machines, so this is probably an issue that they have dealt with. they're also just a great organization. they can probably help with some of the other issues as well; they've been giving away refurbished linux machines to computer illiterate people for years now (a machine comes with a class on how to use a computer, and i think 18 months of tech support), so they've tackled a lot of these problems.

Re:Try Free Geek (3, Informative)

Ki Master George (768244) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206696)

Free Geek is awesome.

They don't get new modems. Actually, most machines they take in are recycled (aka destroyed) rather than refurbished. They just take the good modems they get. This is always an option, but then you have to be prepared to throw away some machines.

linmodems.org (4, Informative)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206754)

Probably a silly question, but you have checked http://www.linmodems.org/ [linmodems.org] haven't you?

The main site is full of information to help identify and get working "windows" modems under Linux. The list still seems to be active. Before ADSL arrived in my corner of the world I was dependant on them to get connected via inbuilt modems. I can't fault the helpfulness of the people on the list.

It doesn't matter if the modem cards you're getting are unpredictable provided that you know that it's one of a small subset and you know how to get each one (or most of them) to work. When I was last looking at this (over a year ago - but I guess that the kit you're seeing isn't new) the most manufacturer that modems identified themselves as was Agere/Lucent, for which there are various drivers around.

Some modems will probably just never get Linux drivers - the 3com 3c556 and relatives are examples of that. See:
http://zurich.ai.mit.edu/pipermail/omnibook/2002-A pril/001275.html [mit.edu]

Re:linmodems.org (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208348)

From TFP: "It seems there has been no activity on the linmodem front for some time."

Re:linmodems.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210424)

The post that you replied to said "The list still seems to be active". The most recent Linuxant drivers came out in December. Is that recent enough?

Do the math (0, Redundant)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 9 years ago | (#12206938)

Migration to Linux:

Costs differences:
+$2 per modem
-$5 per Windows licence
===== +
-$3

So Linux computers would be $3 cheaper, even with slightly more expensive modems.

My Experience (2, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207111)

with a winmodem is related to my laptop. It has a lucent chipset. I'm not sure if this is helpful but I have no problem getting up to date binary packages of drivers for this modem. (Right now I run FC3 and the modem works- installed with an rpm package- I consider that pretty current).

Drivers are available at http://www.physcip.uni-stuttgart.de/heby/ltmodem/ [uni-stuttgart.de]

Maybe these are just older modems and you can't buy them anymore-- but if this type of modem is still available maybe you can get them for cheaper.

Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (-1, Troll)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207137)

This is an excellent example of why Linux is not being adopted by the masses. Hard- and software compatibility is a major issue with Linux.

Noteworthy, too: As of this posting, this article has been up for two hours--and only 23 comments. Funny, how silent the Linux kiddies become when substantive discussion is afoot.

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (2, Interesting)

odano (735445) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207235)

Well the main reason there are major hardware and software compatability issues is because linux isn't popular enough to justify companies spending money writing linux drivers.

Its a circular problem.

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (3, Interesting)

erikharrison (633719) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207237)

This is an excellent example of why Linux is not being adopted by the masses.

Linux has the best hardware support for mass market machines of any non windows OS. And frankly, it has better out of the box support than windows.

The problem is not any more solvable than it already is, in other words, it isn't a technical problem. It's an economic one - MS can get away with developing almost no drivers because market pressure ensures that the drivers get written by hardware vendors.

Funny, how silent the Linux kiddies become when substantive discussion is afoot.

Silence is common amongst all fanboys when real problems are cited. But this is a troll. The problem is not substantially solvable.

The real question I have is, what are the advantages, in this case, of moving to Linux. Linux has become as strong as it has by being dedicated to practical solutions, not ideological ones. The best one I can see is that the licences for Windows are signifigantly higher than the $5 they are charging their customers. In that case a slight increase cost of hardware is acceptable.

Lucent modems are reasonably cheap, and the chipset has drivers (shipped with Linspire, back when it was Lindows). Also, Lucent is one of the better performing Winmodems (although my experience here is with the windows driver, so your milage may vary). If slight increases in hardware cost are acceptable, the Lucent driver is stable under Linux, and ships in serveral major distributions.

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (1)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207384)

Lucent is now known as agere, but it is a good recommendation. While driver for many major distros are available, they can also be compiled for a particular kernel.

http://www.heby.de/ltmodem

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (-1, Flamebait)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207647)

When Linux can support ALL of my apps and hardware, I will accept it as a real OS.

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (2, Funny)

Curtman (556920) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207989)

When Linux can support ALL of my apps and hardware, I will accept it as a real OS.

When you get real apps and hardware, we'll accept you as a real person.

I'm Sticking with Windows ME -driver support! (0, Troll)

kupci (642531) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208050)

When Linux can support ALL of my apps and hardware, I will accept it as a real OS.

Cool, I'm sure you are perfectly happy with your Windows ME.

FYI, Linux is more of a server OS, not your desktop variety like Windows, and many companies are replacing their high-end Unix boxes with Linux. The fact that folks like the original poster are considering it for client use, and that various governments are switching to Linux as apps such as Open Office etc have is impressive.

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (1)

zaxios (776027) | more than 9 years ago | (#12209238)

Windows doesn't support my G5 and it doesn't run any of my BeOS apps. I guess it's not a real OS. :(

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (1)

runderwo (609077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12220289)

Linux *can* support all of your apps and hardware. It's incompetent support or apathy from your vendors that you should be placing the blame upon, not any technical deficiency of Linux (unless you can actually point one out).

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (2, Interesting)

madstork2000 (143169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208928)

I wish I had mod points since you'd definately be getting a -1 TROLL from me.

Basically your strategy is to call names, and repeat an old Linux bash. Your statement has virtually nothing to do with the post.

Last I checked Linux is being adopted by the masses. Many many more people are converting to Linux than are converting from Linux. Entire countries are basing their IT infrastructure on Linux. So I will argue that Linux IS being adopted ona large scale. Of course it could be a larger scale, but Rome empire was not built over night; nor did it fall in one night.

I'll also say hardware compatibility is a major problem for Windows, especially given the multiple version of it. The people getting the refurbed computers will likely have a difficult time adding any NEW current hardware upgrades to their system. Since Windows 98 is no longer supported by MS, driver suppoort is waning.

Even when it was the only game in town HW sipport (especially modems) was flakey at best. I would have to reboot after every time I used my scanner. Sometimes my sound card would lock up after conflicting with my scanner. Also, I worked ISP technical support and EDI technical support during Windows 95/98 heyday. I can confidently say that most modems did not work well out of the box with any old flavor of windows.

Besides endless conflicts with IRQs and port assignments, especially with the "plug and pray" of Windows 95/98, most modems needed arcane initializations strings that properly matched up to the particular brand of modems used in the ISP bank. It was a mess. and very very annoying from a support perspective, probably cut years off my life.

Hard/Software compatibility is mostly a non-issue in Linux anymore, aside from bleeding edge components. In this case I would be willing to bet that the modem support will be better for a modern Linux distro, than for a 7+ year old OS. I would venture to say a modern Linux distro will support more common hardware better than windows98, especially since USB support was in its infancy with 98.

You have clearly not spent any time with Linux, nor have you probably spent a lot of time trying to support any significant number of remote machines, dialup or otherwise. I have, and I will say that I would have left the tech industry a long time ago if I had to continue using MS operating systems and products.

Perhaps, your brain is big enough to remember all the exceptions, nuances, quirks within the convuluted and confusing dialaog box hell that makes up the Windows world. With each iteraction of MS product line getting more confusing and more complex. My brain isn't, so once I figure out a problem once, it becimes a simple shell script (kind of like your batch files) so that everythign can be repeated again and again.

Ok I'm getting a little off target here myself. My point is Linux is not a gimmick, and your comment is mean spirited FUD at best.

-MS2k

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (1)

hdparm (575302) | more than 9 years ago | (#12209773)

I like /.ers with relevant signatures. Too bad you are beyond the first part of it.

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (1)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 9 years ago | (#12209838)

Fascinating: Express a perceptions of the real world and get modded "Troll." Express an observation derived from real-world experience and get labeled "ignorant."

Strange, indeed. Approximately a quarter of a million people think my opinions have merit. Perhaps they are ignorant, too.

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (1)

jurrehart (522828) | more than 9 years ago | (#12213479)

The problrm id not Linux here but Hw producers not willing to create linnux drivers or release good documentation to let the community to develop a driver for the hardware.

Re:Why Linux is a gimmick, not a solution (1)

rapidweather (567364) | more than 9 years ago | (#12219549)

Well, I put a page [geocities.com] up a while back that has some information on connecting a Redhat 6.1 box to the internet, using a modem. Maybe something in there will be of use to someone.

Also, I have gotten into livecd distro's lately, and have had to remaster to get WvDial in, so I could connect with some of my modems. I do use a cable modem also, but that takes all of the fun out of it. Nothing to configure.

Where do you get Win98 for $5 in quantity? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207355)

Last I checked Win95 was running $10-$15 on e-bay. I didn't check Win98 but I'd expect it to be more.

I'm asking because I'm doing something similar.

If it's kids, stick with Windows (2, Insightful)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207374)

I work at a place where people develop on Unix. Not exactly n00bs. Yet, we almost all use either OSX or Windows at home. Why? While Linux is better at some things (like being a server), trying to install desktop software only to go through dependency and obscure problem hell is something we don't like to spend our free time doing. Don't get me wrong, I love Linux and Unix. It's just not designed as a desktop OS, even redhat admits as much.

If the kid gets a computer with Linux, he'll prolly get someone to put Windows on it (which Daddy/Mommy knows how to use) or just buy another computer. It's much better for Free Software and for kids to put polished OSS on a Windows box (like Open Office, Firefox, and Gimp).

I really hope Linux will get there someday. It's just that today isn't that day, and by pushing a unready product to an audience, you give it a bad reputation.

Re:If it's kids, stick with Windows (1)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207448)

If you give them a preconfigured linux box it will work fine. Besides, dependancy hell is a thing of the past.

Besides the guy they get to commit copyright violations with Windows probably won't be able to remove Linux. :)

Re:If it's kids, stick with Windows (1)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207539)

Man, I'm glad you told me that. I spent the better part of yesterday trying to figure out why a library required on GTK+ wouldn't compile on my redhat box. I now know I was dreaming!

Seriously though, I'll wade through that shit. You think an 8 year old would? Or even know where to look?

Computer's aren't monoliths; people want to install things and want them to work. They don't want something to not work after compiling from source (good luck on getting them to do that) and then doing research to discover the library they're missing, only to figure out it requires a newer version of another library, and then discover that the installer bombs while trying to rename a file (permission denied) despite running as root.

Compiling is different. (1)

Aldric (642394) | more than 9 years ago | (#12211210)

The grandparent was talking about package managers I think - the average person would probably never see the command line let alone compile software. What they would see would be YaST or Synaptic which handles things for the user.

Re:If it's kids, stick with Windows (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12216273)

Man, I'm glad you told me that. I spent the better part of yesterday trying to figure out why a library required on GTK+ wouldn't compile on my redhat box. I now know I was dreaming!

You were trying to solve the wrong problem. You need to upgrade to either a modern distribution or a good distribution. Then your solution becomes 'apt-get install whatevercrappyGTKapp-you-were-trying-to-run,' and the dependency stuff is figured out for you.

Seriously though, I'll wade through that shit. You think an 8 year old would? Or even know where to look?

An eight year old (provided he had been taught to read at an early age) would have figured out that there was an easy way instead of wasting the better part of a day trying to do something the hard way.

Of course the eight year old would have been really screwed if it was a windows machine. They wouldn't have cash to purchase the software with in the first place.

Re:If it's kids, stick with Windows (1)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12216757)

I'm using the current release of Redhat enterprise. I've managed to find dependency hell using every "modern distibution" from Mandrake and Redhat (Fedora and Enterprise) to Gentoo and Debian. While some installs work just fine, the nasty ones are nearly impossible to fix.

The windows installers by far and large "just work". It's not to say that I haven't ever had any problems, it's merely that the problems never result in program A requiring library Z version 1.1 and program B requiring library Z version 1.0. The problems are also generally solvable in less time and occur less frequently.

For the record, I spend about the same ammount of time in both OSes.

Re:If it's kids, stick with Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12217429)

"it's merely that the problems never result in program A requiring library Z version 1.1 and program B requiring library Z version 1.0."

If you think that's true, you must not install much software on your Windows box. I've run into that problem several times on Windows boxes. The most memorable was moving a box from Win98 to Win2K, getting it properly configured, getting the software installed, rebooting after the last piece finished (Adaptec EZ-CD Creator Pro 4.0), and having the system hard crash and blue-screen during the boot process. A complete reinstall, later, I put EZ-CD Creator on *first*, and it blue-screened again on reboot. Turns out I had to get a patch from Microsoft *and* a patch from Adaptec (both had to be installed prior to the software, obviously) to be able to use my computer after installing CD burning software I had bought about 6 months earlier (which was AFTER Windows 2000 had been released).

Re:If it's kids, stick with Windows (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12218619)

There's no reason you can't install both versions of a library on Linux.

If you're using Debian, and you use packages from the Debian repository, you never have the problem you describe.

Re:If it's kids, stick with Windows (2, Insightful)

RedHatRebel0 (800752) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208268)

The sooner you introduce them to Linux the better. I've been using Linux since 1997, when I was only 10 years old. It wasn't a problem for me, & the tools of today (e.g. Synaptic) are amazing. Dependencies are not a problem. If you take a kid & give them Linux, it'll be just as easy to learn as Windows, & that's a fact. Of course, why should we even try? Linux isn't ready for the desktop! Next year will be its year. Oh wait, was that the next or the one after that? (sarcasm) Blast. Just give it a chance. Anything is better than Windows 98...

Re:If it's kids, stick with Windows (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12215352)

Well since I just did both a WindowsXP install and a Linux install. I can honestly say the Linux one went easier. I am having all sorts of driver issues on the Windows box. The Ubuntu Linux desktop literally just worked. The only problems I have had on the Linux box was setting up some new apt-get repositories. I then did an upgrade to the new release and then installed KDE. It is fast and easy to use on a PIII box. The windows box still does not have sound! And no I am not using any funky strange hardware on the Windows box. Just a Chaintech Motherboard and an ATI7200.

Now comes the real issue. Are these kids putting these box on the internet? If so it is criminal to put Windows98 on them. I mean it will be owned and turned into a zombie in a matter of minutes! Plus you open up the kids to some of the worst malware attacks like the calling a 900 number through the modem trick.
Unless you can Windows NT, 2000, or XP cheap then Linux or BSD may be your only real choice!

Re:If it's kids, stick with Windows (1)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12216697)

You're totally addressing the wrong part of the problem.

The guy's going to give the machines to the kids preconfigured. It doesn't matter how easy it is to install. What matters, is ease to maintain. I don't know what kind of 98 box you're using, but my old 98 boxes still work fine on the 'net and aren't owned.

Many people still pay professionals to install MS Office on their machines. I can't wait for someone to explain rpm -Uvh to them.

Re:If it's kids, stick with Windows (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12217134)

"I don't know what kind of 98 box you're using, but my old 98 boxes still work fine on the 'net and aren't owned."
I don't use 98 boxes at all. But since Microsoft claims that it is impossible to make Widows 98 secure I really would love to know how you have your 98 boxes setup. Unless of course they are behind a NAT firewall which these kids computers probably will not be.
As far as ease of loading new software. Frankly some Linux systems are easier than Windows. I just upgraded my Ubuntu box to the new distro. apt-get distro-uprade.
Installing new software is easy just go synaptic and pick what you want. Not only that but they have right there a list of FREE software that they can have installed on there system. I would say it would be easier than going to the store buying a program then installing it on the computer only to find out that it will not work with Windows98 or that you need 256megs of ram or your video card will not run it. Not to mention if you give them Windows how much of the software installed will be ware?

Hey I am even a member of MSDN. I am amazed at how far Ubuntu has pushed Linux into the just works category. The one thing I would change is turn off the dang spacial browsing under Gnome as the default.
The other thing is if these kids do get broadband it would be very easy to set up the boxes to run apt-get update every night at two or three in the am and keep them updated.
Yea they will not get to install DOOM3 on them but frankly older computers like this will not run the latest and greatest games. Plus playing games is probably low on the list of things the people giving away these boxes want them used for anyway.

Dial-up with Linux: Plug-n-Pray (3, Insightful)

imperious_rex (845595) | more than 9 years ago | (#12207545)

Even when using PCI hardware based internal modems (such as US Robotics/3-Com modems) it's a crapshoot. Just because a modem is listed as being Linux compatible is no guarantee. Getting online depends a lot on what distro you're using.

For example, on my Linux distro test box I have a 3CP5610 internal PCI modem. It works fine with Xandros, Lycoris, and Mandrake. Knoppix can detect the modem, and dials up to my ISP but cannot truly connect (although my KPPP settings are identical to the settings in Mandrake). Mepis cannot detect the modem, even though I tell it to use ttys4.

With the rise in broadband access, modem support is becoming less of an issue. But for those needing dial-up access, what distro you use can make or break your ability to get online.

Re:Microsoft Plug-n-Pray (1)

kupci (642531) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208150)

Even when using PCI hardware based internal modems (such as US Robotics/3-Com modems) it's a crapshoot.

Yeah, but that was a nightmare with Windows too. In fact, I had an easier time getting modems to work under Linux than Windows (once I got rid of the WinModem joke).

Just because a modem is listed as being Linux compatible is no guarantee. Getting online depends a lot on what distro you're using.

For example, on my Linux distro test box I have a 3CP5610 internal PCI modem. It works fine with Xandros, Lycoris, and Mandrake. Knoppix can detect the modem, and dials up to my ISP but cannot truly connect (although my KPPP settings are identical to the settings in Mandrake). Mepis cannot detect the modem, even though I tell it to use ttys4.

Kudos, you got 3.5/5 working. Not bad.

But it sounds like more configuration issues though, i.e. in 4/5 of the OSs you use, you can at least access the modem. Seems that either the attributes or scripts are incorrect for the Mepis. Would you expect 5 different Windows versions all to work exactly as well with the same modem? Unlikely.

With the rise in broadband access, modem support is becoming less of an issue. But for those needing dial-up access, what distro you use can make or break your ability to get online.

Good point though.

Interestingly, another reason why Linux is ideal is it's support for older architectures. A friend gave me his ancient HP LaserJet III, I had no problems getting this running under Linux (Mandrake), even the bottom tray worked. Under Windows, this took several hours of searching for the drivers on the .net, then installing & uninstalling (usual windows disaster), & finally got it somewhat working (no bottom tray though). Probably it is not entirely MSFTs fault for not supporting the old driver (and I have the OS CDs), but the fact that HP wants to sell you a new printer.

Re:Microsoft Plug-n-Pray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12209100)

What are you, retarded or something?

www.hp.com
type in laserjet III
about 4 clicks later and I'm downloading drivers for a HP Laserjet III Printer

Holy cow (0, Troll)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 9 years ago | (#12208039)

Are you seriously saying that in this day and age, you are actively and aggressively distributing Windows 98 to the general population and *deliberately* connecting these PC's to the internet?

I know it's important to be constructive on Slashdot so I will endeavour to be so. But I must say. What you are doing is sheer stupidity. Windows 98 is buggy. It's insecure. It's also unsupported. Microsoft don't like it, Microsoft don't patch it. It has known security holes that will never be patched because MS doesn't support the OS anymore.

When you couple this with an internet connection (even dial up), you are actively contributing to the overwhelming crisis of spam, malware, trojan and DDOS attacks. Perhaps you should save a little time and deliver the boxes directly to the virus writers to use as zombies?

Let me save you and the world a tremendous burden. If you have to go cheap, go free, use Linux. Don't make the problems of the world even worse than they are. At least Linux, even on old hardware, would be up to date, secure, and significantly more stable than Win9x.

Re:Holy cow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12211473)

Your showing the world your ignorance.

Win98 out of the box has no open ports. When installing the network drivers you do not bind netbios to tcp/ip.

Win98 has explorer but it's not integrated into the system. Its easy to remove and replace.

Just because you were too mentally challeged to understand Win98 internals, don't mock those who do.

Re:Holy cow (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12227907)

Win98 has explorer but it's not integrated into the system. Its easy to remove and replace.

And that version of Explorer isn't a wide-open expressway to install Trojans? That's the install vector for spamware these days, not network-based intrusions.

The grandparent poster is right - distributing Windows 98 is irresponsible today. Another poster wrote that 2000 is available under the same program for the same fee. If linux is unworkable, 2000 is far preferable as patches are still issued.

And they get Predictable results with Win98? (1, Offtopic)

gvc (167165) | more than 9 years ago | (#12209218)

This question is unanswerable and based on the tacit assumption that Windows 98 will "just work" on these legacy machines.

Do these bulk modems come with Windows drivers? For $4? Do they work? What about all the other components of these refurbished computers?

Why don't you have your configuration person do a bake-off. Try MEPIS or some other user-friendly distro and see how many of these refurbished machines work (including modem) immediately, and how many require screwing around and/or installation of 3rd-party stuff. Ask the same question of Windows 98 on the same machine. While you're at it, measure installation/configuration time.

I'm not at all convinced of the premise - that Windows works on a larger proportion of these machines.

Re:And they get Predictable results with Win98? (1)

muonman (162064) | more than 9 years ago | (#12216751)

Yes, the $4 includes windows driver, and they
seem to work.

I actually have experimented with several distros, including Mepis, but the problem is a little more general than that. Some distros may include proprietary drivers but that wont solve our problem.

The wisest move (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12209301)

Install Windows. Leave that steaming pile of shit code LinSux for the zealot losers with no life or clue.

Two options that worked for me (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 9 years ago | (#12209317)

When I was still in dial-up land (actually, that was no more than 2 weeks ago), I had 2 Linux boxen - one Mandrake and one Gentoo. In terms of internal modems, I've had pretty good luck with the HSP cheapo internal modems. The Intel HAM modems also have Linux drivers (albeit limited to certain kernel revisions). Both of these modems can be had for just a few dollars online.

Or the surefire way is to get an external modem. Connecting to the serial port will surely work with anything - and without drivers of any kind. I have been using my external and it's never let me know. I was able to get one for a little over $10 online.

i had the same problem, then i... (0)

mstandfest (654608) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210500)

i had the same problem, then i payed the extra $8/month and got dsl.

This is a hot topic for me right now. (1)

Cheynesaw (166985) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210833)

I am new to Linux and just tried to fix a friend's rotten Win98 install. I read that winmodems were a problem and my friend had one, so I bought an external serial port modem.

I tried:

1. VectorLinux - no joy connecting to the internet.
2. I upgraded the RAM, and tried Knoppix - still nothing.
3. I tried Windows 2000. No joy, but at least it reported the serial modem as being faulty.
4. I tried Knoppix, with the Linunxant drivers for the winmodem. STILL no joy.
5. I tried Windows XP. Everything worked perfectly first time.

It's a real pity as old computers needing a replacement for Windows 98 are a real opportunity for Linux.

Re:This is a hot topic for me right now. (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12216255)

You will no doubt get flamed for disparaging Linux, but you are correct. An external modem is better to use, because the interface is the standard AT command set. The problem is that you have to configure two different things: the serial port and the PPP client. The right order is to get the serial port working first and verify that you can talk to the modem. Second get PPP set up. Knowing that's what you have to do is the problem. Linux documentation can be a bit sketchy.

Re:This is a hot topic for me right now. (1)

debiguana (826124) | more than 9 years ago | (#12222790)

This was a problem with the serial modem, not linux.

Bear in mind that the Smartlink driver... (1)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12212307)

...works with more than just Smartlink modems. I use it with the Agere softmodem built into my Toshiba laptop. I do, however, have to use AT commands to limit it to a 33.6 connection, as a V.90 connection actually ends up slower with all the retransmits.

The real solution is, of course, to use external RS232 modems.

Ignored Kook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12213244)

OK, let me be the first person to point out that this guy has nothing to do with the business in question. Indeed, he is just some random kook trying to provide unsolicited advice to people with whom he otherwise has no realtionship. Even if someone were to suggest a brilliant argument on his behalf it will be ignored by the people in question, of course, since they have no problems and are likely disinterested in dealing with a bunch of unforseen technical issues simply because the local village idiot objects to the Windows licensing.

Winmodems (2, Insightful)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 9 years ago | (#12213980)

I've got a Netcomm 56k internal based on the Lucent Mars chipset. Contrary to the amount of flak I've heard levelled at the hardware, the drivers from here [www.heby.de] work solidly in my experience, with both 2.4 and 2.6 series kernels.

However, not all winmodems are created equal. I'm not entirely sure about this, but I believe it depends on whether or not the winmodem in question actually DOES have a controller chip and just needs proprietary drivers, as opposed to a true controllerless modem. From what I've read, the Lucent AMR modems are genuinely controllerless and thus not supported under Linux.

In a nutshell, because the term "winmodem" is a catchment word and actually describes quite a large number of different devices, you need to make sure you have reasonably intimate knowledge of which specific breed of winmodem you've got. Some will work, some won't...but again, in my experience anyway with my own chipset, both the 2.4 and 2.6 Lucent modules work well.

Of course, a standard hardware modem is always more desirable if you can get one...particularly seeing as the Lucent modules taint the kernel, which may be a problem for some people. (it doesn't particularly bother me) The advantages of winmodems however are price, greater level of availability these days from what I've seen, and marginally better throughput than their standard cousins in some instances. I'm hoping to eventually save up for a standard/external one of these days, and as I said they are more desirable if you can find/afford it...but I'm at least surviving on my Lucent right now.

Wine and Winmodems (1)

jlbprof (760036) | more than 9 years ago | (#12214434)

Can you run the Win32 Winmodem driver with Wine on Linux?

Linuxant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12223071)

Just to say: They SUCK....
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