Dialup configuration

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Keep in mind that our testing username is freegeek@whiz.to (must include both the username and domainname)

N.B. When testing/setting up Whiz.to accounts always use the Gresham Number: 503-465-4055. The Portland numbers listed do not work reliably (at all). This page is relevant to both the Ubuntu boxen and the Freekbox3

Getting gnome-ppp to run properly

First make sure that gnome-ppp is installed by typing in 'gnome-ppp' into the terminal. If not installed, type 'sudo apt-get install gnome-ppp'. Once installed certain permissions need to be set to enable it to connect properly. Open the System menu, select Administration, then Users and Groups. Select Advanced Settings and enter the account password when requested. In the Advanced Settings window select the User Privileges tab and enable "Connect to Internet using a modem" and "Use modems".

Ubuntu Help

Installing a dial up modem

If using a Free Geek test number/password for testing do not forget to erase them from Gnome PPP before giving the computer back to the customer

  1. Find a modem that works in linux (get one from tardis if you cant find one in tech support). And plug it in.
  2. Using a wired ethernet connection install gnome-ppp
apt-get install gnome-ppp
  1. run gnome-ppp (applications>internet>gnome-ppp) and click on setup then detect, to tell it to look for the modem. If gnome-ppp does not detect the modem it will give an error, in which case you should try a different modem.
  2. Get the user's ISP information (user/password/local phone number), and enter it into gnome-ppp. If the user does not yet have an ISP, we can sign them up for whiz to coho in tech support (to do, make a page on this).
  3. Make sure that "save password" is checked or things will not work.
  4. do a test run and make sure the modem is able to connect properly, user and password is correct, ect.
  5. Open firefox, in the URL enter "about:config"
  6. search the about config page for "networkmanager" (the full line is "toolkit.networkmanager.disable) set this to true. This will prevent firefox from always opening in offline mode.
  7. Create a shortcut to gnome-ppp on the desktop or panel (or both) and show the user where it is and how to connect.
  8. DONE!


Network Manager

This should work fine in Ubuntu 8.04, but not in newer versions.

First, you need to determine the device your modem is called by the OS. Open a terminal and run "wvdialconf". That program will probe for modems and report its findings. If a modem is found it will be in the form of "/dev/<device>", e.g. /dev/ttyS1 or /dev/ttyACM0.

  1. Open the network manager
  2. Click "Unlock" and put in your password
  3. select the point to point connection and edit
  4. put a check in "enable this connection"
  5. on the modem tab, make sure the device is set to what you found with wvdialconf
  6. on the options tab, make sure you are using the ISP's nameservers, and to set the connection as the default route
  7. on the general tab, fill in the information the isp gave you (username, password, phone number)


This program is always present on a Debian or Ubuntu box as part of the default install.

  • reliable
  • easy to configure for someone familiar with command line
  • can be used by normal user
  • requires root to create new connection and to debug
  • not obvious to someone used to a gui interface


  • open a terminal, become root, type pppconfig
  • Use the defaults for most things
  • The modem may be autodetected if it is a ISA modem but if it is not, or the modem is a PCI modem, manually enter /dev/modem


  • to start a connection, type "pon" (if you created a connection with a name other than "provider", you must use "pon <name>")
  • to close a connection, type "poff"
  • to debug (as root) type "plog". this shows the tail of the ppp log.
  • to tell if you are connected type "netstat -nr" and look for the ppp0 interface.


Part of the KDE desktop system, kppp is present on all freekboxen 2 and 3 but is not present on Ubuntu boxen.

  • Graphical windows-like
  • Easy to configure, defaults mostly good
  • Easy to get ATI command responses
  • Very flaky, fails to work at reasonable speed on good modems
  • buggy
  • Often need to edit pap-secrets anyway

See also


If "permission error" is written to modem log when attempting to connect

open - system --> administration --> users and groups
open - advanced settings
open - user privileges tab
check - connect to internet using a modem


if that doesn't work try

sudo chown root:dip /usr/sbin/pppd
sudo chmod 4754 /usr/sbin/pppd
sudo chmod 777 /etc/ppp/pap-secrets
sudo chmod 777 /etc/ppp/peers

and reboot.

If command string is not accepted by modem and modem is a 3com modem

Should see error 'invalid dial command' in terminal after starting gnome-ppp from there. If you are receiving this error, go into 'Options' on the Gnome PPP GUI and choose 'low' or 'none' for the Volume option.

password problems

With some ISP's using the default configurations of kppp and gnome-ppp does not work. In those cases, you can generally get the account going by editing the pap-secrets file.

by hand

You need to open a terminal and su to root. Then type the following line:

nano /etc/ppp/pap-secrets 

(or use your favorite text editor)

Add your username and password on the last line of the file in the following format:

"username" * "password"

The "*" is necessary, as are the double quotes.

Save by typing ctrl+o, then enter, then exit with ctrl+x.

If you have a persistent error code 19 though the customers authentication information seems correct, try

chmod a+rw /etc/ppp/pap-secrets

Worked on a customer with att.net Luiz 20:06, 17 August 2010 (UTC)


pppconfig adds the username and password to pap-secrets. This is an easy way to fix password problems and gives you another dialer.