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Internet/Networking

In today's connected world, getting online or on a network is a must, so I want to describe my experiences with Lindows and the Internet/network. As I previously discussed, the installation on my home PC required no configuration to get connected to the network or online. This is mainly due to the fact that I have a Netgear router/switch/DHCP server that handles all of the IP addressing automatically. This little device is also responsible for managing my DSL connection and my DNS server settings. Anyone can plug their computer into my network and be online in seconds—including my Lindows PC. Fortunately, this type of setup is becoming more and more popular, and has already become standard in most workplaces.

Ironically, my workplace doesn't have a DHCP server. In other words, all network/Internet settings must be entered manually. While this isn't a complicated procedure, it's one that many users don't want to do or even know how to do. For the complete novice, the settings are hard to find and can be difficult to understand.

Lindows does a good job of guiding users through the manual configuration of the network settings. This is done via a combination of easy-to-follow instructions and a well-laid-out menu. Once you have the required settings, you simply click the Lindows menu and choose Settings, Network, Network Configuration; then click the Interfaces tab (see Figure 2). The settings are straightforward and easy to understand. While it takes a bit of know-how, Lindows networking is no more difficult to configure than that of any other operating system.

Figure 2Figure 2 Changing network configuration settings.

While access to the Internet is great, many users want to be able to access files on a network computer. For the average Windows user, this only involves clicking Network Neighborhood and browsing to the target computer. Linux, on the other hand, requires the addition of a program known as Samba to access Windows shares, which often requires additional configuration that the average user won't understand.

Lindows has attempted to make this process as invisible as possible by including Samba as part of its installation and using a familiar icon labeled Network Browser on the desktop to locate other computers. This setup allowed me to get connected to all my file shares at my office in seconds. I only needed to enter my identification information and domain name in the Network File Sharing window, and I had access to all my shares on the domain servers.

The last part of this segment will briefly deal with dial-up users. While Lindows is geared mainly toward broadband users, many people rely on a dial-up account to get connected. To help these users, Lindows has included very clear instructions that step you through the process to get your modem talking to an ISP's modem. While I was expecting some issues with getting my modem to be recognized by Lindows, it was automatically detected and available.

There are a few things a Linux user will need to be cautious about before attempting to use the modem:

  • WinModems may not work in Lindows. These modems require files found in the Windows operating system to work. While it's possible to get them working under Lindows using extra drivers, it's not guaranteed.

  • The Lindows modem instructions may not be 100% accurate. For example, my modem was not on /dev/ttyS0, as the instructions indicated. The easiest way to determine whether you have the right device selected is to use the Query Modem button under the Modem tab in the kppp configuration window to test your current settings (see Figure 3).

Figure 3Figure 3 Querying the modem.

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