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Re: [vox-tech] Debian configuration: X and modem and zip
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Re: [vox-tech] Debian configuration: X and modem and zip

Quoting Ashleigh Smythe (absmythe@ucdavis.edu):

> Hello!  I just got a new Dell (Dimension 2400, Pentium 4, 2.66 GHz) 
> and managed to perform my first Linux install with Debian Woody (I 
> got it too late for your installfest :( ).  I think the OS installed 
> fine, but I'm having some problems configuring and I hoped some of 
> you gurus could offer some suggestions:

The default installer for Debian Woody's extremely conservative in its
choice of, well, pretty much all software.  By the way, if you took the
path of least resistanace with it, you would have gotten a trailing-edge
2.2.x kernel.  (Type "uname -r" to find out.)  You have to pick the
"bf24" boot flavour on the second screen to overcome that default and
get a somewhat reasonable 2.4.x installation kernel.  You might want to
fire up "aptitude" and pick a more reasonable kernel-image-2.4.* kernel
package, to install from your Woody CD(s).

The fact that you've received by default a very old kernel and an
old-ish XFree86 server set is part of your problem.

Relevant Google hits:
(latter is a thread, so see messages that follow)

Note that you have a Broadcom BMC4401 ethernet chipset, which will
require the bcm4400 or b44 driver -- which you're very definitely NOT
going to find provided by old kernel packages.

> 1.  I can get the Xserver to start but only with the resolution and 
> color depth very low.  My graphics card is an integrated Intel 3D AGP 
> card (Intel 828456) and it is not listed in the set-up choices so I 
> chose vga at the suggestion of the aboutdebian.org installation 
> tutorial I was following.  

That's one of the current problem-child video chipsets for Linux, the
Intel 845 series.

> I think I got the correct driver for my card from intel
> (intelgraphics_060704) but the README instructions are only for the
> .rpm version of the file - there is no indication of where I should
> put the file or what else I need to configure to get it to work.

Are you talking about the
http://support.intel.com/support/graphics/sb/CS-010512.htm page?

It's been such a long time since I had Debian-woody around (since I
consider its successor Debian-sarge much more suitable for desktop
boxes) that I can't remember for certain, but Woody might just default
to the really old XFree86 3.3.x series.  The Intel-produced drivers, for
starters, are for the current XFree86 4.x series.  You might want to
check that, by doing "dpkg -l" and looking at the versions reported for
installed XFree86 pacakges.

Anyhow, on a proper XFree86 4.x system, drivers for individual video
chipsets go into /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/ , e.g.,
/usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/s3virge_drv.o for the S3 Virge driver.

You will _also_ need kernel support (the agpgart driver, and optionally
the dri driver if you want 3D support) for this and other embedded Intel
video chipsets -- on any Linux distribution.  That's one reason you'll
want to replace your (probable) 2.x kernel, right there.

Here's a page from someone who was in a similar bind, with an Intel 830
embedded video chipset on Debian -- and he was put through hell even
though he was using Debian-Sarge!  The i810, i830, i845, etc. embedded
chipsets from Intel all basically pose the same problem.


As the author says, finding a way to get XFree86 4.2.1 or better is
actually your most painless solution.

> 2.  I can't get the modem to even attempt a dial.  It is a 56K PCI 
> Telephony modem (internal) but a friend called Dell and they insist 
> it is not a winmodem and that it should work.  

Your friend appears to be correct.  Here's a (rather generic,
non-Linux-related) page about the "US Robotics 56K (Python) Telephony
Fax/Modem-SCM001379-00", which would seem at least similar to your


However, PCI modems are a hassle even when they aren't winmodems. Here's
a guide in my knowledgebase to help get you through the rough spots:
"PCI Modems" on http://linuxmafia.com/kb/Hardware/

Notice the advice that involves the "setserial" command, to program
Linux's serial-port support to know how to talk to the funky PCI-device
serial port that's integral to your PCI modem.  That then allows Linux
apps to talk to the modem via one of the regular symbolic names for
serial ports, e.g., /dev/ttyS2 (for which you would want to also
establish a /dev/modem symbolic link).

The right place to put such a command on Debian is in a shell script in
/etc/init.d/ , and create a /etc/rcS.d/S90pcimodem symlink pointing to
the script.  (Don't forget to make the script executable.)

Warning:  If you install or remove PCI devices, you might find that your
setserial command has become dysfunctional, because the PCI controller
chip has reshuffled its assignments of I/O base addresses and IRQs.  So,
you'd then have to debug and fix your script, all over again.  Welcome
to the fun world of PCI modems.)

> I followed several tutorials that showed me how to configure ppp by
> editing /etc/ppp/peers/provider and /etc/chatscripts/provider but I'm
> not sure I know which ttyS my modem is on so I kept trying /dev/ttyS0
> and /dev/ttyS1 but still no dialing.

See, that's the optimist's approach to software configuration.  The
optimist's go-for-broke approach is great when it works, but you must be
prepared to toggle into pessimist mode, when it fails.  

That is, the building-up-from-nothing approach is as follows:

1.  Come up with a guess about hardware resource assignments.  Do a
"setserial" command accordingly, specifying what you think is a suitable
/dev/ttySnn port, where you figure nn isn't something else.  Write down
what you typed, for reference.

2.  Create a /dev/modem symlink, pointing to that port device.

3.  Fire up minicom (a simple terminal program).  Type "ATH1" to see if
the modem replies.  You might need to play with bit-per-second rates to 
find the correct value.  The moment the modem replies "OK" in the
terminal window, you've achieved success.  You can now proceed to PPP
setup (like, using Debian's really nice pppsetup utility), now that
you're finally talking to a modem.

> 3.  Finally, in trying to configure an old Iomega zip100 drive, the 
> debian.org howto says to append the following line to 
> /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit:
> # Enable the Zip drive
> /sbin/modprobe ppa  # imm for recent models
> Only I don't have that rc.d directory in my /etc.  Any suggestions?

First of all, make sure you're solving the right problem.  Is that Zip
drive interfaced to the computer via parallel port?

But the solution to your question is above:  You use a symlink in
/etc/rcS.d/ , for things to be done once at boot-up.

If I might make a modest suggestion:  You might be happier using the
(alas, still late beta) Sarge installer.  See:  "Installers" on
http://linuxmafia.com/kb/Debian/ .

Cheers,      "Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first
Rick Moen     woman she meets, and then teams up with three complete strangers
rick@linuxmafia.com       to kill again."  -- Rick Polito's That TV Guy column,
              describing the movie _The Wizard of Oz_
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