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alt-get update via ADSL from command line?

Gee, Linux has a way to make me feel real dumb ... 

I am stuck at the command line due to an X conflict.  I need to 
run apt-get update and apt-get upgrade for Debian Unstable to 
see if that resolves things on my OmniBook 4100. (Or should 
I grab a newer version of Linux instead?)

Can someone suggest what generic Linux utility included with 
2.4.14 and/or Debian Unstable will cause my laptop to 
recognize the Verizon-Westell ADSL modem? 

(I am running through a 3Com 589c pcmcia nic, if that is 

This all worked fine when I had access to X and could run 
Mozilla -- it managed the interface and then I worked from 
the command line.

Thanks!  doc 

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