Getting Online






Getting Online

Getting online is vital in our modern Internet age, and SUSE Linux caters to all the standard ways of doing so. Linux was built from the ground up to be an online operating system and is based on Unix, which pioneered the concept of networking computers together to share data back in the 1970s. However, none of this is to say that getting online with SUSE Linux is difficult! In fact, it's very easy.

If you use a modem to dial up to the Internet over a phone line, you can use KInternet. It's possible to get online using DSL and cable modems, and if you connect to a local or wide area network, you'll find support for most Ethernet cards is built in. There's also good support for wireless LAN cards, so you can connect to Wi-Fi networks.

Note 

Linux actually runs around 60% of the computers that make the Internet work! Whenever you visit a web site, there's a strong chance that it'll be run using Linux. As your Linux skills increase, you'll eventually get to a stage where you, too, can run your own Internet servers. It sounds difficult, but can be quite easy.

SUSE Linux is very good at autodetecting hardware and configuring the best settings for you. Before attempting to configure your hardware settings to get online, you should check to make sure you aren't already up and running. Open the web browser and attempt to browse to your favorite web site. If that doesn't work, try another just to be absolutely sure. If you have no luck, then you'll need to do some manual configuration.

Using an Ethernet Card

There are a variety of situations where you might go online via an Ethernet card. If you have DSL or cable broadband at your home or workplace, for example, you might use a DSL modem with a router built in. Your Ethernet card will then connect to this, and all you need to worry about on your PC is getting your Ethernet card up and running under SUSE Linux, which is usually a simple task.

Note 

Using a DSL or cable modem router is the preferred way of going online via broadband. Many routers nowadays offer Wi-Fi network connections, too. However, some people use USB-based DSL modems, which connect to and are operated by your PC. We'll discuss these in the "Setting Up a DSL Modem" section later in this chapter.

If you're running SUSE Linux on a PC in an office environment, it's highly likely that you will connect to the local area network using an Ethernet card. This lets your computer communicate with other computers, as well as printers. In some offices in which an Internet connection is provided, you'll also be able to go online.

Configuring a Network Card

SUSE Linux recognizes and supports very nearly every type of network card. To configure yours, follow these steps:

  1. Select K menu ® Control Center, click the YaST2 Modules icon on the left, click Network Devices, and then click Network Card.

  2. You'll be told you cannot proceed any further without entering Administrator mode, so click the button at the bottom and type in your root password when prompted, as shown in Figure.

    Image from book
    Figure. To configure your system using YaST2, you'll need to click the Administrator Mode button and type in your root password.

  3. The program window will be split into two halves. At the top, you should see your network card. It might be identified by its make and model, or alternatively it might just be called eth0. The bottom half of the window should report that no card is currently set up. Click the Configure button.

  4. The path you take from here depends on the settings needed for your particular network. In the case of a DSL or cable broadband router, the default settings of DHCP should work fine, so simply click the Next button to move through the configuration screens without changing any settings. The majority of office networks will work in a similar way, so the same applies: further configuration shouldn't be necessary and the default choices should work fine.

  5. Click the Finish button when it appears.

You should find yourself online. If not, you may need to configure your static IP address, as described in the next section.

Configuring a Static IP Address

On some networks, you might have been assigned an IP address that you must enter manually, along with the gateway address and your DNS addresses. This is referred to as using a static IP address. You should speak to your system administrator or technical support person to find out these settings.

Note 

The settings you will get from your system administrator will usually be in the form of a series of four numbers separated by dots, something like 192.168.10.233. You should ask the administrator for your IP address, DNS server addresses (there are usually two or three of these), your subnet mask, and the router address (sometimes referred to as the gateway address).

Once you know your settings, after completing the first three steps outlined in the previous section, proceed as follows:

  1. Click the Static Address Setup button, and then type your IP address into the relevant field. Enter your subnet mask into the relevant field, too.

  2. Click the Host Name and Name Server button. Don't worry about entering a host name and domain name in the fields, unless you were specifically told to do so by your administrator. The defaults should be fine. (These will identify you to other machines on the Internet, so you could type something in that specifically identifies your PC, although this isn't mandatory.) Enter the two DNS numbers you were given into the Name Server 1 and Name Server 2 fields, respectively, as shown in Figure. Then click the Next button.

    Image from book
    Figure. Enter your DNS server addresses into the relevant fields. They should take the form of two IP addresses (numbers separated by dots).

  3. Click Routing. Enter the router address (this is sometimes referred to as the gateway address). Then click the Next button.

  4. Assuming that your network is otherwise standard, click Next again, and then click Finish.

You should now be online. However, if your system administrator mentioned that a proxy must also be configured, follow the instructions in the "Working with a Proxy Server" section later in this chapter.

Joining a Wireless Network

It's more common for notebooks and handheld computers to use wireless networking, but some desktop computers also do, even though these usually stay in one place. You can probably tell if your computer has wireless capabilities because there will be a small, black antenna somewhere (usually on the back of desktop PCs), a little like the aerials found on very old mobile phones.

Notebooks and PDAs typically use wireless network PCMCIA cards that will have a square antenna, as shown in Figure, although improving technology means that antennas are starting to disappear.

Image from book
Figure. Most wireless cards rely on an aerial of some kind.

Configuring a Wi-Fi Card

Configuring a wireless network card is pretty much identical to configuring a standard Ethernet card, and you can follow the instructions for configuring a network card in the previous section, Be aware that if your computer also has a standard Ethernet adapter in addition to Wi-Fi capabilities, you'll need to ensure you select the Wi-Fi card when initially choosing an adapter to configure.

You should set up the wireless network card to use either DHCP (the default SUSE Linux settings) or a static IP address (which means you need to enter the details manually). As explained in the previous section, you'll need to speak to your network administrator to find out which settings you should use.

Note 

In most instances, wireless network cards are configured with the Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP), so that they grab a network address automatically. The nature of a wireless network, where many people might join or leave the network at will, means that using static IP addresses is a bad idea.

Configuring a Network to Use Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP)

Some wireless networks use the Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP). This protects the data being transmitted on the network so it cannot be stolen by hackers with special equipment. It also means that no one can join the network unless they know the encryption key, which is basically an access code.

Your encryption key normally takes the form of a string of letters and numbers, which you should get from your system administrator. Alternatively, you administrator may give you a passphrase, which might be a sentence in English; you enter that as a kind of long password.

You might also ask the administrator to give you the name of the access point you should connect to, although SUSE Linux is capable of detecting any nearby access points and connecting automatically.

To configure WEP, follow the procedure to configure the Wi-Fi card. However, before clicking the final Finish button, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Advanced button, click Hardware Settings, and then click the Wireless Settings button.

  2. In most cases, the only field you'll need to fill in here is the Encryption Key, which is the access code you got from your administrator, as shown in Figure. The other fields on the same screen can be left blank.

    Image from book
    Figure. Ask your system administrator for an encryption key if your Wi-Fi network uses WEP protection.

  3. If your system administrator gave you the name of a specific access point (or hub) that you should connect to, click the Expert Settings button, and then type it into the Access Point field. Don't worry about filling in the other fields. The default settings should work fine.

  4. Click Next, and then click Finish. You should find your network card is configured.

    Tip 

    On my test notebook, I found that the wireless connection wouldn't work after initial configuration unless the computer was rebooted. On a different occasion, I found that simply ejecting and then reinserting the wireless PCMCIA card was enough to make it work after it stalled.

Setting Up Dial-Up Internet Access Using a Modem

You might have heard rumors that Linux cannot work with certain types of PCI cards and PCMCIA-based modems, so called Winmodems. This is partially true. Currently, some Winmodems simply won't work under SUSE Linux, or they will work only with significant extra configuration. However, the majority of other types of non-Winmodem internal modems should work fine, and all external modems will function without any problems.

Configuring Your Dial-Up Modem

To configure your modem, follow these steps:

  1. Select K menu ® Control Center, click the YaST2 Modules icon on the left, click Network Devices, and then click Modem.

  2. Enter your root password when prompted.

  3. Select your modem from the list, and then click the Configure button.

    Note 

    If you have an external modem that connects via a serial cable to your PC, your might find it isn't automatically detected. In this case, click the Configure button, and then, in the Modem Device drop-down list, select /dev/ttyS0. If you find your modem isn't working after following the configuration steps outlined here, return to this stage and choose /dev/ttyS1 from the list.

  4. Once you click Configure, there isn't actually much information to be entered on the following screens; in most cases, you can simply click Next. However, in the Dial Prefix field, you can enter any number combination your phone company might use to temporarily turn off features like call waiting, which can throw you offline while you're connected to the Internet. You should also remove the tick from the Detect Dial Tone box if your line uses a pulsed dialing tone to inform you of answering machine messages or call diversion.

  5. After this, you'll be asked to set the country in which you're based. This will bring up a list of Internet service providers (ISPs) on the right side of the screen. The list is very comprehensive, especially for the USA, as you can see in Figure.

    Image from book
    Figure. SUSE Linux contains details of many ISPs around the world.

  6. Once you select an ISP, the phone number details will be filled in automatically on the following configuration screens. Many ISPs change their dial-up numbers on a regular basis. Alternatively, you might be using an unmetered ISP deal that means you need to dial a special, toll-free phone number. Because of these factors, I advise you not to use the suggested ISP settings offered by SUSE, but to click the Custom Providers button instead. This will let you enter a phone number of your choice.

  7. Click Next, and you'll be prompted to enter your dial-up details. These are what usually appear in the dial-up networking dialog box under Windows. You'll need to type in the access phone number, your username, and your password. The last two are the username and password given to you by your ISP when you signed up, not your SUSE Linux username and password. Additionally you should enter the name of the ISP into the Provider Name field (this is merely so you can identify it later; it isn't used by SUSE Linux for any particular purpose).

    Tip 

    If you don't know what the dial-up number is, or have forgotten your username and password, you can call your ISP's tech support line to find out. Be careful not to mention that you're setting up a SUSE Linux system, however. If you do, you'll probably receive a stony response, because most ISPs support only Windows and Mac operating systems! Just pretend that you're setting up a Windows system and say that you want the details for future reference.

  8. The next screen can be largely ignored, although you might choose to put a tick in the Active Firewall box if you want to be totally secure (setting up the firewall is covered in Chapter 9).

  9. Click Finish to save all your settings. You'll be asked if you want to configure your e-mail. I'll explain how to do this in the "Setting Up E-Mail and Instant Messaging" section later in this chapter, so click No for now.

Going Online with KInternet

After finishing configuration, you might notice a new icon in the bottom-right area of your system tray. It looks like a telephone plug. This is the KInternet applet that lets you go online. From now on, it will always appear in the system tray, even after you reboot.

To go online, all you need to do is click the KInternet icon. Alternatively, you can right-click it and select Dial-in, as shown in Figure. This will start the dial-up process automatically (the icon will change accordingly to show it's busy, and you should hear your modem dialing, as with Windows). To go offline, right-click the icon and select Hang Up.

Image from book
Figure. To go online, simply click the KInternet icon or right-click it and select Dial-in.
Tip 

If you like to monitor the speed at which you're connected, right-click the KInternet icon and select View Data Rate. This will show a graph of incoming and outgoing connection speeds.

Setting Up a DSL Modem

DSL is one of the most popular ways of getting broadband Internet in a home or small office environment. It usually works over phone lines and gets the most out of standard phone wires. The broadband signal is sent at a very high frequency compared to standard voice calls and is therefore largely inaudible to the human ear.

You need a special modem to use DSL broadband. These special modems usually connect via USB to your PC, and then plug directly into the phone socket.

Tip 

If you access broadband using a DSL modem that connects to your PC via USB, I strongly advise you to consider upgrading to a dedicated DSL router. This will take care of the DSL connection for you, and all you need to do is connect to it via an Ethernet network. In fact, an increasing number of DSL routers offer Wi-Fi connections, making cables unnecessary. Another advantage of a DSL router is that the connection can be effortlessly shared among two or more PCs, and the router also lets these PCs create a small network among themselves, allowing file and printer sharing.

SUSE Linux is just starting to support DSL modems. As this book was being written, a quick browse of the supported hardware list (http://hardwaredb.suse.de/?LANG=en_UK) showed that only one modem is guaranteed to work by default: Telekom AG's Teledat 300 LAN.

Support for other DSL modems is on the brink of becoming mainstream, but it is still undergoing testing. By the time you read this, however, the project will almost certainly be much more advanced. You can find more information and download the driver files by visiting the following site: http://eciadsl.flashtux.org/index.php?lang=en.

Tip 

Support for virtually all DSL modems will undoubtedly be added to SUSE Linux in the future by SUSE itself. To take advantage of this, ensure that you regularly perform online updates. You'll find instructions on how to do this in Chapter 9.

Downloading a DSL Modem Driver

It's possible to get other DSL modems to work by following a few steps. In most cases, you need to download a driver file and install it on your PC. Note that to get the driver for your DSL modem, you'll need to go online, so you might need to use a standard dial-up modem to get this file.

Possibly the most popular type of DSL modem is the Alcatel SpeedTouch. Here are the steps for installing the driver for a SpeedTouch modem:

  1. Open the Konqueror web browser by selecting K menu ® Internet ® Web Browser ® Konqueror. Then type the following into the address bar:

    http://download.ethomson.com/download/speedmgmt.tar.gz
    
  2. Once this file has downloaded, you'll see a list of files. Right-click the top entry, mgmt, and select Extract. Next to the Extract To box will be an icon. Clicking this will let you browse your hard disk. The default choice will be /home/yourusername/Documents. This is a good place to save the file, so click OK. Then click OK in the Extract dialog box.

  3. Insert your SUSE Linux installation DVD in your DVD drive.

  4. Open a command-line console by selecting K menu ® System ® Terminal ® Konsole. (Konsole, which is discussed in Chapter 14, lets you run a command-line shell on the desktop; in other words, it opens a shell window, where you can issue commands directly to SUSE Linux.)

  5. Click to put the cursor in the Konsole window and type the following series of commands in turn, making sure to use uppercase and lowercase letters exactly as shown. These instructions will install a few system tools that help install and configure software. Note that these commands will cause output to appear within the Konsole window, which you can ignore. Figure shows the process.

    Image from book
    Figure. Getting SpeedTouch DSL modems to work under SUSE Linux requires some additional configuration.

    su 
    [enter your root password]
    mount /media/dvd
    rpm -U /media/dvd/i586/make-3* /media/dvd/i586/gcc-3*  /media/dvd/glibcdevel*
    cd Documents/mgmt/
    make
    make install
    exit
    exit
    

Configuring Your DSL Modem

After you've installed the driver, you must use YaST2 to configure the modem, as follows:

  1. Select K menu ® Control Center, click the YaST2 Modules icon on the left, click Network Devices, and then click DSL.

  2. You might be asked if T-Online is your ISP. If it isn't, click No.

  3. Follow the wizard, entering your username, password (if you were given one), and VPI/ VCI numbers. All this information should be provided in documentation given to you by your ISP. If not, phone its technical support line. Once again, the username and password are those supplied by your ISP, not your SUSE Linux username and password.

  4. Select PPP over ATM in the relevant box.

  5. Finish the wizard, and your modem should be set up.

Working with a Proxy Server

Some networks in offices require that you use a proxy server. A proxy is a server computer that does two things. First, it provides additional security by providing a single portal to all web pages and certain other types of Internet data. Second, it helps speed up Internet access by storing frequently accessed pages. This means that if ten people request the same web page, there's no need to get the same ten pieces of data from the Internet. The proxy computer can send them its own copies. For various reasons, proxies are becoming less popular nowadays, but larger organizations might still use them.

You'll need to speak to your system administrator to see if your office uses a proxy. If it does, your administrator will most likely give you an address, which may take the form of a web address or an IP address. Once you have this information, follow these steps to configure the proxy:

  1. Select K menu ® Control Center, click the YaST2 Modules icon on the left, click Network Services, and then click Proxy.

  2. Click the Administrator Mode button and enter your root password.

  3. Make sure there's a tick in the Enable Proxy box. Then type the address your system administrator gave you into the HTTP Proxy field. Unless you were specifically given an FTP proxy address, that field can be left in its default state, as can the other fields.

  4. Click Next, and the settings will be saved. Note that some programs use their own proxy server settings. However, most of the SUSE Linux built-in applications should work fine.

    Tip 

    Some ISPs run proxy servers, too. However, unlike proxies in offices, it's up to you whether you choose to use them or not. You might find using a proxy speeds up your connection, especially when you access popular sites, so it's worth trying out. To find out if your ISP offers a proxy, visit its technical support web pages or phone its technical support line.



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