Aaron's PCI Modem comments

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Revision as of 20:17, 23 January 2005 by (talk)
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Summary: After my LPI exam, I wandered into Build and found a box o' mixed PCI modems. Sorted them into yes/no/maybe piles and then looked up the maybes at http://start.at/modem and finally put 'em all back where I found 'em. I've got my numbers, I don't care what ya do with 'em.

The gory details:

My sorting procedure was:

  • Conexant, NEC or Rockwell chips: No-pile (~30 modems)
  • PCTel chip: Yes-pile (14 modems)
  • Lucent 1646T00 chip: Yes-pile (17 modems)
  • Everything else: Maybe-pile (17 modems)

The maybe-pile had several types of chips. Further sorting netted:

2 USRobotics Model 0778 hardware modems
1 Actiontec Lucent-based hardware modem
3 Lucent HV90P-T-based winmodem (uses LTModem drivers)
1 Agere 1648C-based winmodem (uses LTModem drivers)
1 Ambient MD5628-based winmodem (old drivers available)
1 ESS-based winmodem (might work on Linux)
5 weird old Intel Lucent/AT&T-based 28.8k winmodems
2 3Com AD1806-based winmodems
1 Intel HomePNA 1Mbps network adapter

OK, so what do we do with these buggers?

The hardware modems are nice, I hear you just use setserial to configure them. But there's precious few coming in. Some day, when there's free internet everywhere (for instance, HUD is sponsoring free wired and wireless 'net in public housing projects) we'll be able to use external and PCI hardware modems to take care of the rare few who still need dialup. But 3 per ~70 won't be enough for now.

Well, supporting the Lucent chips is easy. There's recent packages for Debian Sarge at http://www.heby.de/ltmodem and you can just add

deb http://www.physcip.uni-stuttgart.de/heby/ltmodem/dists/debian/ ./

to your /etc/apt/sources.list to get 'em. I used the LTModem drivers a few years ago and they worked OK.

PCTel modems are plentiful and really easy to sort out. They always have just one chip, and it says "PCTel" in big letters. And there are drivers at http://linmodems.technion.ac.il/pctel-linux/welcome.html But I don't know how well the driver works on current Linux kernels, and we'd have to package them ourselves. Actually, we'd want to get someone outside of the US to package them, since there may be copyright issues.

The Ambient and ESS modems have the same driver issues as the PCTel, and there were only one of each, which makes 'em not worth the effort.

The rest were not usable on Linux.

So what I've done for now is put the LTModems, HW modems and PCTel modems in a shallow box on top of the box of unusable modems in the Build area. I'm not claiming 'dibs' on them, so whoever put them in Build is welcome to do whatever they were gonna do. I just wanted to survey the population.

If we decided to start using internal PCI modems, I'd propose a sorting procedure of picking through PCI modems and looking for Lucent 1646T00 or HV90P chips and some specific 3Com/USRobotics model numbers and sending the rest to the store or to recycling. Yes, we'd miss some usable stuff, but I think we'd get enough. Sorting thoroughly would take a *lot* more time with very little gain.