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Old 06-21-2003, 11:26 AM   #1
Zen Arcade
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Smile Modems: internal vs. external?

Hi Folks,

I have a Conexant SoftK56 internal modem that I can't get to work with Knoppix. I've browsed around sites like but frankly most of that info is beyond me at this point. So a few external modem questions:

1. Would an external serial modem be the way to go?

2. Could I just buy any external serial modem and be confident that it would work? Are there certain specs I need to watch for?

3. Where's a good place to get a cheap or used external modem? (I'm on a very limited budget right now)

Thanks in advance.

Old 06-21-2003, 11:58 AM   #2
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As long as it attaches to a serial port, it will work. I have used mine to go on-line with Knoppix running from the disk.

com1 = /dev/ttyS0
com2 = /dev/ttyS1
Old 06-21-2003, 02:49 PM   #3
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dont buy a new modem, i have that exact same modem, and got it working....

its basically a win-modem, meaning its not a full modem, half the modem in on the pci card, and the other half is on ur windows CD... DAMN M$, but luckily, there exists Linux drivers for it...


and take the case of ur computer, and look at the serial numbers on the main chip on the modem, look it up on the table on Identifying your modem,

it will either be a HFC or HSF (my is a HSF urs will probably be 1 too)

then download the driver.

Now, make sure u have installed all the tools u need to re-compile your kernel, and u have your kernel source installed.

and run the driver instalation file.
it will complain that u are missing a kernel module, but it can compile 1 for u, give it the path of your kernel source, and leave it to compile...

then follow the on screen instructions, it tells u to run HSFSetup or sumthing,

then when thats finished, BOOOOOOOOOOM

your modem works, im still using that modem right now, and its fine.

i know it sounds complicated, but i did it when i was a 3 day old linux n00b, so it cant be that bad.
Old 06-21-2003, 02:59 PM   #4
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Conexant/Rockwell modem HOWTO
Old 06-21-2003, 04:28 PM   #5
Registered: Apr 2003
Location: Arizona
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I am sure what qwijibow describes will work, I use an external serial modem instead. As far as I can tell all external serial modems are very easy to install. However, external USB modems are sometimes not as easy. At Fry's electronics they recently had several external serial modems on sale for $49. I have used external serial modem made by Hays and also one made by Zoom without any problem.

Just for comparison I have listed below what I had to do to install my external serail modem under Red Hat 8 on my old computer. The instructions would be slightly different for other distros such a Knoppix which you use. I am only posting this to show how easy it was for me to set-up my external serial modem.

1) Log in as root, open a terminal winow and a the command line type in this:


2) Click the "forward" button and allow it to probe for modems. When it says it did not find one I clicked "OK" and the "select modem' window then appeared.

3) My modem was connected to COM1 so from the "select modem" window I chose /dev/ttys0. If my modem had been attached to COM2 I would have used /dev/ttys1 instead.

4) Click on the "forward" button and enter the phone number, provider name, login name, password and the click forward.

5) A window appears saying that I have a Generic Modem, click "Apply"

6) At this point I was returned to a window which now (unlike before) lists my modem on the list of network devices. Click on where the device is listed and then click on the "Activate" button. A window appeared asking if I want to save the configuration changes and I said yes. Modem noises were then heard as I was being connected to my internet provider.

7) I opened my browser and typed in a known URL such as and found that I was on the internet.

I realize Knoppix may or may not use the neat command. My only point in posting this is to show how simple it is to use almost any external serial modem. I have never tried using an internal winmodem and not sure how setting it up would compare. Notice that in the above instructions, no driver had to be installed or used! You said you are on a very limited budget right now so perhaps your would prefer to use your existing internal winmodem instead.
Old 06-21-2003, 04:44 PM   #6
Registered: Apr 2003
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Here is another comment anyone else who is considering using an external serial modem. If you already have an internal modem installed that internal modem my be causing one of your two serial ports to be unuseable. Fortunately, the other serial port should still be useable. If the external serial modem does not seem to be working with one of your serial ports try hooking your serial cable to the other serial port instead. Then do the previous instructions again and select either /dev/ttys0 or /dev/ttys1 depending on which you have it hooked to. Windows could be allowed to continue using the internal PCI winmodem. Of course you may or may not want to purchase an external serial modem for about $49.
Old 06-21-2003, 04:52 PM   #7
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I picked my external serial modem up for $14.50
Old 06-21-2003, 06:45 PM   #8
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I find it quite amusing sometimes, when someone asks me 'Will it work with Windows' - It's a damn serial modem, it'll work with an Atari or Amiga, of course it'll work with Windows you numpty, but that's not the reason I'm buying it, now is it?

Sorry, a minor rant there. I am a firm believer in 'legacy' serial modems - at least they have to be hardware modems.


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