Get Tiscali broadband with Sagem Fast 800 modem working on Linux

Q My setup uses hard drive caddies that enable me to swap to and from Windows XP and Mandriva Linux. I am using Tiscali broadband successfully on Windows XP. My problem is that I cannot set up this connection on Linux and Tiscali doesn't appear to have the answers, though I have asked. Do you know how I set up a Linux connection using the Sagem Fast 800 modem? I have the Power On light lit and sometimes the Signal light, but the error message tells me that a modem is not connected. Sagem's website suggests that I plug in a USB hub that has its own power supply, but since the power supply light is on I do not believe that this is the problem. What I really want is an idiot's step-by-step guide to solve this problem. Can you help?

A The best solution is to replace the USB modem with an Ethernet-based ADSL modem/router, which can be bought for around £25. The USB modems supplied by ISPs are minimal devices, leaving much of the work to the host computer and only barely working on Windows. A hardware modem/router will give better performance on Windows and Linux, as well as being easier to set up. It also allows you to connect more than one computer to your ADSL connection, should you wish to do so. Sagem's point about using a powered hub is valid. The USB spec only requires the port to deliver 500mA (milliamps), and most USB ADSL modems are borderline in this respect. It might light the LEDs but not be enough to run the modem properly.

Even if the modem connects, insufficient power may cause it to hang or drop the connection later. I don't have one of these modems, but I borrowed one to try to solve this on my Mandriva-powered laptop. It worked, but I was shocked at how much slower than my normal Ethernet connection it was to connect and access web pages. Plug the modem in and wait a few seconds for the LEDs to steady. Start the Mandriva Control Center, go into Network & Internet > Set Up A New Network Interface and select ADSL Connection. There should be an entry for the Sagem USB modem in the list; select this. The drivers for the modem will be installed here, so have your installation discs handy. Choose your ISP from the list. For UK users there are only two choices, but the BT option will work with everything except AOL, since the ISPs all use BT lines. Go with the default on the next page then give your login and password (these are case-sensitive). Choose whether you want the connection started when you boot - you use startadsl otherwise - and allow it to test the connection. Check your login details if it doesn't connect.

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