Originally Published: Wednesday, 1 September 1999 Author: Maurice Entwistle
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Winmodems Part 3 - This Would Never Happen Under GNU/Linux

I've had to train the other PC users in my house to type "dos" at the "Lilo" prompt if they want Windows 98 instead of GNU/Linux. It took a few reminders after the KDE logon screen came up and the new user didn't know what to do. But now they're all trained. I've still got a winmodem on this machine, so I can't really convert everyone here just yet. But, I've been working on that....

   Page 1 of 1  

Winmodems - Friend or Foe? Part 2
Winmodems Part 4 - Linmodems: A Bad Idea

I've had to train the other PC users in my house to type "dos" at the "Lilo" prompt if they want Windows 98 instead of GNU/Linux. It took a few reminders after the KDE logon screen came up and the new user didn't know what to do. But now they're all trained. I've still got a winmodem on this machine, so I can't really convert everyone here just yet. But, I've been working on that.

I dropped into a computer shop to pick up a "real" modem. It was a gaming shop too. I learned that over the phone when I asked for their hours. All seemed normal until they said, "Friday and Saturday we're open till 3 AM."

"3 AM! Why are you open till then?"

"Well, you know we're in Westport. We stay open till the bars close."

"Can you sell computers that early in the morning?"

"No, but we sell Internet time."

"Oh?."

"People get drunk and want to email their friends or just surf some new site they've just heard about. And they can game here too!" So I learned that computer stores are now becoming Internet and gaming stores. This is definitely proof that GNU/Linux needs to do more games. And since the Internet is being run on Apache more and more, games and Linux should go together.

Who says computer guys have no social skills? In the store, when the owner heard my predicament, he said, "Why don't we go look up modem drivers on the Internet and see if we can find a Linux driver for it." And he did just that! He spent 20 minutes looking on various sites for GNU/Linux drivers for my modem. I was grateful, thinking he might know something I didn't. But he had no luck. Then he told me he was out of the modem he carried that would let me surf with GNU/Linux. He asked me to check with him again tomorrow as a shipment was due.

I did some more research when I got home. There are some individuals who are working on a generic "linmodem," but these efforts are still in the early stages. So, "linmodems" will happen, it's just a matter of time. From what I see, I would caution badmouthing "softmodems." They're here to stay. GNU/Linux will embrace them as "linmodem" versions become available. It appears that softmodems will become the norm, both for MS and GNU/Linux. Right now you can go to Lucent Technologies "Firmware" site and download upgrades to the software on their modems. Is this any different from downloading software upgrades of any other kind? And which OS has the most fluid network of upgrades and patches? GNU/Linux, of course. So once linmodems are available, the old style, "real modems" will be the PC equivalent to the horse and buggy.

My nine-year-old still uses MS Windows. He's into games. So he's been bugging me for a better program to unzip files. Trying these out has been an education in why GNU/Linux appeals to me. One of the unzip apps I tried would always put their icon in front of a downloaded file, even though the file was downloaded with an entirely different program. And it seemed to have disabled any other unzip program from being used. So, when the limited trial time was over, I couldn't even unzip a file. I had to uninstall the program.

I downloaded and tried another unzip program. This one made me agree to allow them to download advertisements to the bottom of the screen for the free version. If I wanted the "no ad" program, I would have to buy it. I have another program like that on my PC, so I didn't think that was so bad. I downloaded it. But, my Internet download lights kept blinking like crazy and my hard drive was clicking away long after the program was finished downloading. I checked my hard drive and sure enough, ad after ad was being added and a 1 meg program was becoming a 2 meg program. This wouldn't happen with GNU/Linux. Let's never let that happen.

Maurice L. Entwistle, maurice@linux.com





   Page 1 of 1