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Re: Communicating with USB Modem

On Oct 9, 2010, at 6:49 PM, Camaleón wrote:

> On Sat, 09 Oct 2010 17:28:31 -0400, Hal Vaughan wrote:
>> On Oct 9, 2010, at 4:22 PM, Camaleón wrote:
>>> ...
>> I see that, the one thing that is discouraging me is that, while I know
>> they are talking about the chip, the pictures are of PCI modems, not the
>> USB ones, and I think mine is later.  (They show a USB modem on page 5,
>> but different form factor than mine.)  Still, mine may work.
> Yep, if you carefully read that doc, it seems the shape of the device may 
> vary:
> ***
> - Reference design will include board, connectors, USB cable,
> and plastics
> - Three different form factors
> ***

Yeah, I missed it.  When I start researching, I look at everything, then as I focus on some parts, I am not as good about making sure I read all of it.  Oops!

>>> ...
> Oops, sorry. I thought I already told you "sl-modem" drivers are 
> available under debian "non-free" repo (lenny, squeeze, sid):
> http://packages.debian.org/lenny/sl-modem-daemon
> :-)

I found that just after writing my last email on this thread, but just before I had to leave to take my Mother to "night out" meal - didn't have time to add in that I had found it.  Thanks.  The issue, though, is that needs another package, one that's not a dependency, it's "sl-modem-modules-2.6.26-2-686".  I'm looking, can even find it in a package pole, but can't find the package itself.

>> ...
>> But an idea hit me this summer.  I haven't been programming in about 3
>> years (I'm a screenwriter by passion, so I've been doing that).  This
>> idea that hit me would take several months of programming and it'd be a
>> game-changer for me in terms of income from the data mining.  But to do
>> it, I have to decentralize, which means instead of having one computer
>> here doing dial-up, I'd have to put a computer in each client's office
>> and have it do dial-up there.  I won't get into all the reasons and
>> thinking behind what I'm doing, but, in short, I want what's in their
>> offices to be as simple as possible and to be a black box.  I do not
>> want them hooking up a keyboard or monitor to it ever.  I don't even
>> want them to think of it as a computer, EVER!  So I'm looking not at low
>> end as in cheap, but as in saving money and still getting a good
>> embedded system.  Each system will need a modem and I'll keep backups
>> (of the computer and modem) on hand, ready to ship when needed.
> I see... It's quite difficult to keep the track of manufacturers making 
> cheap and linux friendly devices. One has to perform a big search in the 
> web (reading forums, mailing lists, asking users to get accurate 
> feedback...) to find out what USB modems (chipsets) play fine with linux 
> distributions.

Yes, it is.  I am seriously considering, when I get the right modem and know things are lined up and am starting production of the new system, to just order 20-30 of whatever I find.  I'll just eat the cost then and make it up as I deploy them.  I don't want to find the right modem, order 3-4, then find it not in production anymore.  Again, I'd go with RS-232, but the expense is greater and, honestly, when they're going in someone else's office, so I have to be sure I can ssh in (which is a project in itself, considering different offices and different sysadmins), I have to be aware I will NOT have hands-on access.  It sounds picky, but using an adaptor on a plug in such a case is just another thing that can go wrong and that I could spend hours trouble shooting to find some oaf jarred it and there's a loose connection.  The fewer the connections and the simpler the system, the more time I get to spend ballroom dancing instead of patching software.  (I'm a believer in setting up a system, then letting it do the work while I don't!)

>> I have used a USB-to-RS-232 converter with success for a FOSS project to
>> control an HD radio (http://halblog.com/hdradiocontroller.html), but an
>> RS-232 modem is more expensive and the converters are expensive, too,
>> putting the price per modem well over $50 each.
>> I've ordered a Rosewill that looks good.  It costs more than the one I
>> have now.  I'm going to try any drivers I can find for this one, but
>> considering the price of the other one, with shipping, is $30, if the
>> drivers don't work and the manufacturer doesn't help, I'm not going to
>> knock myself out over this one.  I can always use it on a Windows
>> machine and use that system for testing (to have my other ones dial in).
>> As it is, though, considering how cheap these are (this one and the
>> replacement people have tried on Ubuntu), I think spending more than a
>> few hours on this one might be a diminishing return.  Still, if all it
>> needs are drivers, then I'll be happy with it!
> O.k. I also think geting an USB modem to work should just be plug and 
> play and no needing to mess with drivers at all. But it could worst: 
> there are some embedded modems (those you can find in notebooks) that 
> lack of any driver and they render completely useless.

Yes, that's true.  And, unfortunately, I had information indicating that any USB modem would be similar to RS-232 in that it'd be plug-n-play.  That's not so.  And, while I'm looking at embedded computers (right now I'm waiting to see if the new Soekris Net-6501 will do well for me), at least the modems aren't embedded!  And if I do use Soekris, they have a serial port -- you HAVE to use as a terminal during setup, so once I get the original image created and working, I can copy it to an image file and easily install it on flash cards and just insert it, without using the serial port on each one.  And when they're deployed, I may be able to use it for an RS-232 modem, but I'm not committing to that yet.

> So, trying the driver (provided that there is one) is worth a try. If 
> they do not work, just put the Agere modem into another machine as you 
> said or give it to a friend who can make profit of it :-)

I'm still looking for the other package, but if it means doing anything with the kernel other than installing that one package, this is the end of the lien for that modem and it gets stuck on my iMac to be used by my WinXP virtual machine under Parallels.  I'm already getting close to the point that I'm concerned about all the steps it takes to use it.  Adding non-free to sources.list before installing packages isn't a problem, but if I have to do config steps, that could move it out of the low-maintenence category.

>> Thanks for the input and I'll look for the drivers and see if I can get
>> them working.  I'll let people know what I find out in the long run on
>> this.
> Whatever USB modem you finally can put into work, just tell us. That 
> information it can be very useful for other users looking for a similar 
> solution :-)

Definitely!  I'm still trying to remember what led me to this one, whether it was a Newegg review that's been deleted, something on a web page, or that I clicked "Add to Cart" on the wrong tabbed page.  I always try to document, on a reading list, the working solution, so others won't have to puzzle it out.

Thanks for all the help!


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