Mandriva Linux finds Speedtouch USB DSL

I’ve been planning to switch over from Windows XP Pro to Linux for a long time now, I’ve seen a better world, but my software requirements and PC hardware has held me back……now the last of the technical objections has been swept away.

Over the next week or so I’ll be sorting out my back up situation, clearing out old files etc…..then making the switch to Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring One. I’ll finally be 100% Linux……a day I’ve been looking forward to for so long.

I use Macromedia (now owned by Adobe) Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop for my web design, and those are not available for any distribution of Linux. I’ve since noticed that WINE has evolved quite considerably, and can run the Windows versions of both of these programs that I use. I’ve also tried GIMP (the Linux answer to Photoshop)…and it’s much, much better than I first thought it would be……after you acclimatize to it.

My dial up modem was (unknown to me at the time) a WINMODEM. This meant that it helped prop up the Microsoft monopoly, and didn’t give me the choice of Linux. I refused to buy a new “real” dial up modem. I decided to wait until I went back to broadband, and make sure to get a DSL modem which was Linux compatible…..thinking it’d solve the problem.

I checked the stats to make sure it claimed it was “Linux compatible” and decided DSL package which supplies on a Alkatel / Thompson 330 USB DSL modem free (many do apparently). It passed all the Linux check boxes, so I assumed it’d be fine. I got the modem and found it had Windows and Mac drivers, and the Linux instructions online….a tad annoying but I felt “that’s ok…..its a little configuration work, patience” only to find it was a lot more hassle than it appeared.

I’ve played with various distributions of Linux over the years, starting with my introduction via Mandrake 9.1 and ending with being very impressed with Ubuntu. I did decide that Ubuntu was the one for me, and that I wanted to get my Alkatel DSL modem working with it. I went to the forums, and was pointed by various people to 2 or 3 solutions for downloading firmware, updating it etc…..but none of those worked for me. Not one….despite the assurances of others who it did work for.

I did also notice an issue with the Ubuntu forums, which made me think. I reported a bug to them which I found allowed me to change the root password without giving the old password. The responses I got were from people speaking in code. I asked them to explain in plain English what information they were asking of me……and got more responses in code. I tried again….and got more code.

This led me to wonder if the experts at the Ubuntu forums forget they’re dealing with humans when they start dealing with bug complaints……or if they expect everyone to be an expert like them. My logic is that everyone has to start somewhere. You’re not born an IT professional…..and a community which does not welcome newbies is a community which is closed, and will grow very slowly……on the other hand, a community which welcomes newbies is one which will deserve loyalty and contribution in the future.

I may revise that initial opinion of the Linux forums when I switch to Mandriva…….for now, I’ll leave it as “as much as I like Ubuntu as a desktop OS, I was not overly impressed with the official Ubuntu forums“……..maybe I will be when I learn to speak a second (code) language.

Have you any idea how annoying it is to be dual booting, and have to come into your Microsoft OS to get online and find a new set of instructions, copy them to a text document (making sure you don’t need any other files)….copy them to a separate storage, reboot into your Linux OS, copy that text document across and try it……only to find some bizarre error the instructions mentioned nothing about? I do….I know that experience VERY well…..so very well. It’s fine if you have two PC’s where you have your help channel open at the same time, but for those like me with one PC, it’s difficult.

I had not given up on Linux, but was looking around for one listing my modem as supported hardware, and didn’t find any. I was looking around at the various live CD versions to download and try them…..if they recognize my modem, they win my vote. I’m not sure what made me think of going back to Mandriva, but I’m glad I did. I’ve tried various versions of it over the years, and apart from it feeling increasingly bloated with extra software; I liked it.

I did notice last year (I think) Mandriva started offering a “One” version…..which (if I understand correctly) is a stripped down version (it grew to 3 CD’s with the last Mandriva I used) with all the usual packages that most users use on it (Firefox, Evolution, GAIM, IRC, OpenOffice etc) and fitting on one CD or DVD and in dual live / install format…..following in the pattern most recently headlined by Ubuntu. I also notice they have a GNOME (the natural Mandriva preference has been KDE for years) version, which I never liked until Ubuntu.

So I downloaded the 695mb .ISO GNOME version and tried it in live mode. First off, the 3 way split of the start menu I fell for with Ubuntu is there in this Mandriva too…….wow. That may be a default GNOME way of doing things, I don’t know. Any Linux can be set up to show the menus like that under any desktop environment, it’s just with this I wouldn’t need to set it up manually like that. All the usual packages I recognize and have used before, so there was no need to spend time trying them in any meaningful way.

I tried to “set up a DSL connection” and almost had a heart attack when it scanned my PC and found my Speedtouch with no fuss. I thought I was seeing things. I selected it as my modem, and the next question was the PPoA option, which was already defaulted to what I needed…..after that the ISP username / password screen had me shakily entering my details thinking all the time “it can’t be this easy” over and over but keeping every free didget both real and imagined crossed that it was.

Next I was met with the “do you want to connect at start up?” and “do you want to connect now?” questions…..a quick “yes” and “yes“……….and it CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET!!!!!!!!!!!! I actually surfed my own sites from my own PC running Linux. I wanted to make sure there was no trickery involved, so I checked a few sites, including my blog.

All my Linux knowledge has been funneled down the Debian / Ubuntu side because that was the route I planned. My path has switched to the Mandriva / RedHat side. In most cases Linux is Linux, the differences are in the package selection and sometimes directory or file placement…..now I know my distribution, I can specialize. My next PC I will build myself, with Linux in mind from the ground up….who knows, I may install Ubuntu on it…..but for now, thanks to the Speedtouch detection of Mandriva…..my first 100% Linux will be Mandriva.

The only other issue I found was with my Epsom C48 printer, it didn’t find it…although that’s a minor and fixable issue with internet access from the PC itself, without the rebooting hassle. Ubuntu found the printer without any fuss, so I know it’s Linux compatible.

So for those who are in the same boat as me with the need to connect via an Alkatel / Thompson 330 DSL USB modem and can’t get it figured with other distributions….try Mandriva One 2007 Spring…..it finds it with NO FUSS, straight out of the box. I assume it makes no difference about either GNOME or KDE, although as previously mentioned I went for GNOME (it can be changed at any time after install anyway).

Running in “live mode” Mandriva does ask questions about the keyboard and language settings which I associate with “installing” and was cautious when clicking on “next”. This was unfounded…..it’s just the way it works. When you’ve tested in live mode, simply reboot as normal and remove the CD when the drawer opens……and you reboot back into the unaltered OS that you had before.

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2 Responses to “Mandriva Linux finds Speedtouch USB DSL”

  1. Dmitri Says:

    Congrats on moving to Linux. I am planning to move to Mac myself, since I do want to keep using MS Office and get those Adobe apps running at full speed too.

  2. Dirk Gently Says:

    Thanks, I’ve now moved. When I wrote this blog entry, I had the CD sitting waiting for the backups to be sorted…..I’ve since done the backups, and installed Mandriva twice lol.

    First was the Gnome version, which I had a few issues with, it was just too different to feel right as an only OS when you’re used to Microsoft. I wiped again, and reinstalled the KDE version, which is more familiar in Microsoft terms. I figured it was more important to make as easy a transition as possible, it’ll help me find my Linux feet quicker…..at which point I can start to broaden it out.

    Anyhoo, this is the first response I’ve entered in my blog in Linux. I was going to do a “well, I’ve finally moved” blog last night, but this time yesterday I was still running XP…….I kinda have a lot of configuration to figure out lol

    My Firefox still looks strange due to the theme and extensions I had, and have still to set up. It also has the “preferences” in a different place, which catches me every time I look for them. For the next couple of weeks I’m in a transition mindset…….but I finally stepped into the clear air, and have no regrets.

    I’ve had a few surprises though, I used GAIM for Windows and wasn’t impressed…..the Linux version is MUCH better, I can already feel myself sliding into that groove. As a multi network PM client it does a LOT more networks than I knew existed. The startup and shutdown is quicker too……and haven’t started refining it yet lol.

    I am surprised at how Mandriva have responded to Ubuntu. My initial impressions (having used it less than a day so far).

    First, they make a one CD live / install CD. Second, they offer a Gnome version (Mandrake / Mandriva have always been a native KDE). Third, the way the package manager in Ubuntu / Debian handles dependencies is now a feature of Mandriva, and forth, the “active one click update icon on the system tray” is a feature of Mandriva……..overall, it’s very easy to use, and targeted at newbies just like Ubuntu.

    I’d suggest that anyone curious about Linux, try Mandriva or Ubuntu…..either will leave a good impression with you, at no risk.


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