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Get Online

There are a number of means by which your computer may gain connection to the internet. While slow, the traditional analog dial-up service remains the only means of gaining internet connection in some places. Satellite dishes are common in rural areas, providing a decent download speed but relatively slow upload. Broadband DSL and cable services provide the most common and fastest, bi-directional internet service. Some newer housing developments have fibre optic at the curb, providing high speed, multi-media (phone, TV, internet) runs into your home. Typically, these connections terminate in your home, office, or a public internet access point with a physical box which offers an ethernet cable or wireless (802.11) transmission.

While the use of cell phones as a data MODEM has been around for while, it is only with the advent of higher speed GSM, GPRS, Edge, and now 3G high speed connections that it has become functional and more importantly, enjoyable. While we do not at the time of this writing have experience with the latest wireless internet connection protocol, be looking for WiMax enabled devices and computers, a wireless internet technology with superior bandwidth over cell phone range.

Let's look at how your computer must be configured to communicate through a MODEM, ethernet cable, wireless transceiver, or USB cable or Bluetooth connection.

Ethernet

Ethernet just works for the built-in ethernet chipset (make/model of the microchip which gives life to the on-board physical port) is a supported standard found on-board all modern motherboards as "fast ethernet" (100 Megabit) or more commonly "gig-e" (1000 Megabit or Gigabit). "10 Gigabit" is the new, fastest ethernet and may replace Gigabit as the default standard. Fortunately, computer manufacturers have complied with the ethernet standard without wrapping it into proprietary packages which are more challenging to support. As such, the Linux kernel readily recognizes and supports most on-board ethernet configurations.

Unless changed from default during installation, the on-board ethernet port was set to DHCP which means it will automatically detect a connection, request an IP address, and gain the required settings for communication through your internet access provider's router. If you desire to Deactivate or Activate the ethernet port use:

YDL Menu --> Applications --> System Tools --> Network

The function of PCI and PCMCIA ethernet cards are subject to whether or not the card vendor chose a readily supported Linux chipset or the Linux community adopted support for this device, rolling the required code into the kernel itself or making it available to the more savvy user as a kernel module. Best to review the online HOWTOs for your specific card.

Wireless

With YDL v.6.1, getting online is effortless with little to no pre-configuration steps when you use the Wicd Network Manager to automatically detect wireless networks.

  1. Launch the Wicd Network Manager:
    YDL Menu ==> Applications ==> Internet ==> Wicd Network Manager
  2. To set a preferred network, select the Automatically connect to this network checkbox.
  3. Simply click the Connect button and you are connected.

Note that Apple devices require the addition of firmware beforehand. See the HOWTOs for specific assistance with configuration.

As of YDL v5.0 and forward, Apple's AirPort Extreme is supported. In addition, some 3rd party external devices such as a USB wireless device or PCMCIA card are also supported. Supported Devices showcases those USB and PCMCIA cards currently supported and the HOWTOs offer device specific assistance with configuration, such as using your cell phone as a modem.

Keep in mind that not all new product vendors bring non-supported chips to market with intent to keep them proprietary. Sometimes, leaps in performance require leaps in chip technology resulting in a gap between when the product is brought to market and when it is supported by Linux. The proactive vendors assist in this process while others seem less concerned with Linux support, but do not move to block it.

Analog MODEMs

MODEMs, unfortunately, have often not worked for quite some time. This is due to a transition (early 2000s) from hardware MODEMs to software MODEMs which rely upon proprietary algorithms to simulate what used to be physical hardware, reducing the cost of manufacturing. However, software MODEMs are more challenging (sometimes impossible) to reverse engineer and support as they have very complex code that must be, in full, rewritten in Linux, most often without the benefit of support from the OEM.

Again, you may attempt to use the Network configuration utility, but only some of the original personal computers (G3 iMacs, for instance, which are no longer officially support with YDL v6.0 and forward) will function. The modems in most others will simply not activate or be recognized as available devices.

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