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2001 Dec 30 17:09

The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox-tech mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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Re: [vox-tech] Linux Modem Compatibility
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Re: [vox-tech] Linux Modem Compatibility

On Thu, 6 Sep 2001, Robert G. Scofield wrote:
> Here are the two choices one now has for a modem if one wants to buy a 
> Dell Computer (4100):

PowerEdge Server or ?? (I am guesing you were looking at Dimension series)

Many PCI modems are of the type known as "winmodems". Though external
modems include extra cables and cost and use up an external serial port,
they offer two large advantages over internal winmodems:

1) If your modem gets hung (happens less often now, but can still
happen) then you only need to shot down and restart your modem - not you
whole box. (Why run Linux for stability against reboots if your modem
requires a reboot for a reset?)

2) With an exteranl non-minmodem (and even non-lin modem) you are not
using so much in the way of CPU resources and kernel/OS emulation of

I only use external modems - even with laptops, I use combo PCMCIA cards
that do ethernet and modem on one card with one irq and standard serial io
ports. (PCMCIA external card added as opposed to a built-in winmodem.)

> 56k PCI Data Fax Modem for Windows

Since it is PCI, it is more likely that it would be a win modem, or at
least use nonstandard IO and/or IRQ to make using it require at minimum
the lspci and pnp service support tools or linmodem drivers, and at worst
not work at all.

> 56k Telephony Modem for Windows ME

It is possible that the telephony support for the modem is for windows but
the modem would otherwise be a standard modem. I have been experimenting
with the external voice, data, fax modems and the vgetty for automatic
voice/data/fax in linux (rockwell chipset) to my linux box to store "voice
mail" digitally encoded, accept fax messages as binary image files, and
still allow for dialin support via modem. :-)

Getting a good modem that is external and uses external serial ports is
still a good idea IMO - and for laptops PCMCIA cards when buit-in modems
are winmodems.

> What's all this "for Windows" stuff?  Are these winmodems?  Or, will 
> they work with Linux?

Dunno. You would need to check out the specs. get the mode numbers from
dell and ask Dell or the makers of the modems.

> I notice that Dell has removed it's web pages offering computers loaded 
> with Linux.

As I understand it, Dell no longer offers desktop machines for end users
with Linux pre-installed. However, if you are a bulk buer and buy say 100
workstations, they will put just about whatever you want on the machines
and even restore the drives with an image you send them. This is not
advertised, and you have to work your Dell rep to get them to do it I

As for the server market for my orders, I think they offers Linux on
servers. See:


Of course I get our servers for a uni, and get different prices and
options, so YMMV.

Actually, they first offered this stuff on servers 3-4 years ago - maybe
more. Before then, they allowed you to order your machine without an
OS. The extended it to desktop machines only briefly. (IBM may be offering
this for end users now, and this may have cut into what little share Dell
had invested in the home user market.)

I would bet the number of users asking for linux was too small and/or the
numbers of return for linux for windows instead was high, and/or the
issues with costs for tech suport were too high. (Yes, I know I am posting
this to a linux mailing list, and expect it wont be poopular.)

We did not help their stats cause we chose the options "No OS" since we
use Debian, not RedHat. In retrospect, we probably should have ordered
them all with RedHat so that it would count as a vote for Linux. (They
briefly had an option to allow the user to specify what other OS they were
going to use, and I think it included Debian, but they would not install
this, They probably just used it for stats purposes.)

Some concessions:

Troubleshooting windows can be and is often more expensive over the long
term and most things just cant be fixed by the end user who must instead
wait for a hotfix or service pack, or see no satisfaction.

Linux users tend to be brighter on average than the windows user.

Expecting an average windows user who is not as bright as the average
linux user to do as much on linux as they have on windows is unrealistic
over the dhort term with the present state of socialization.

Larger organzations can find lower TCO with Linux than windows (like us),
but not the home user when they are tech-know-nothings and their tech
support consists of family and friends who are also tech-know-nothings but
run windows - not linux. :-/ (LUGs do much to counter this but have not
included so many "family" groups or the older generations. How could this
be done? Dunno.

It is really that issue of market share, stickiness, and that nasty
coefficient of static friction in the home user market.

With CodeRed and CodeRed2 some security analysts have stated MS is
irresponsible to ship OS with IIS enabled by default, and any IT managers
who deploy MS OS with IIS are also irresponsible.


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