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PCI modems and Linux

This document is created by Andrew Comech. The latest version lives at
Comments and corrections are appreciated.

Disclaimer: No responsibility for any loss and/or damages incurred as a result of using this document (or otherwise not using it) is assumed whatsoever.

Most available PCI modems do not work under Linux, since most PCI modems are lacking standard modem parts and can not work under Linux (at least not until the specifications are revealed and the drivers have been written). Moreover, there is no speed advantage whatsoever of PCI modems vs. ISA modems, so who cares. If you are looking for a Linux-compatible modem, see Winmodems are not modems for the list of what is known to be modems or instead nonmodems and for the current events, and Where to buy Linux-compatible modems for the list of dealers.

Below is a list of a few controller-based PCI modems (not all of them are specified as Linux-compatible), with the links to installation instructions for Linux users.
The original HOW-TO written by Richard Nelson can be found below.

Not all of these modems are explicitly mentioned to be Linux compatible. There may be more PCI modems listed at Winmodems are not modems. Note: Actiontec's 56K PCI Pro (formerly "DeskLink Pro"), model PCI56019 is a nonmodem (winmodem), in spite of tempting "56K PCI Pro is compatible with the latest in PC operating systems" in its description. So are most other PCI modems.

Below is the email which I received from Richard Nelson from Actiontec Electronics, which contains a HOW-TO on configuring PCI modems under Linux.

From Mon Apr 26 16:24:43 1999


1) I have talked with RedHat on numerous occasions, and have sent 
them the FAQ documents Friday.  We will also be sending them a test 
unit soon as well.

2) The reason it isn't mentioned with OS/2 is because I had just 
finished testing it under OS/2 and hadn't tested it under Linux yet.

3) Attached is the FAQ document I wrote up, it has been sent to 
RedHat and a few other's as well.  Feel free to post it, Thomas Dodd 
also helped greatly, along with Michael ( forgot the last name, 
sorry ) and a few others.  ( Tom, if you're reading this, call me at 
work, I forgot your number!:)

4) Believe me, I COMPLETELY understand the need for not giving 
newbies in particular the wrong advice, or the wrong idea.  The last 
thing we want is for everyone to go out and buy a bunch of PCI WIN 
MODEMS ( such as the desklink Pro PCI ) and expect them to work under 


Richard Nelson

***INSTALLATION OF V90 PCI LUCENT VENUS BASED MODEM*** I. After physically installing the modem, log into your "Root" account. II. To determine resource settings. Type the following command: cat /proc/pci An example of the outcome will look like this; 5. Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0x00000000. Bus 0, device 17, function 0: Communication controller: Unknown vendor Unknown device (rev 0). Vendor id=11c1. Device id=480. Medium devsel. Fast back-to-back capable. IRQ 11. Master Capable. No bursts. Min Gnt=252.Max Lat=14 Non-prefetchable 32 bit memory at 0xe4000000. I/O at 0x6400. I/O at 0x6800. I/O at 0x6c00. III. Take note of the IRQ, and FIRST I/O address, then type in this command; cd /dev; test -c ttyS3 || ./MAKEDEV ttyS3; chmod 666 /dev/ttyS3 setserial /dev/ttyS3 uart 16550A port 0x6400 irq 11 ln -sf /dev/ttyS3 /dev/modem You can probably use any other ttySX as well. NOTE: THE IRQ AND PORT MAY VARY, IT IS DEPENDANT UPON THE RESULTS FROM STEP II IV. To set Linux to configure the modem upon boot-up. There are several options. One method is going to the /etc/rc.d/ directory, and using an editing program such as "jed" edit the rc.local file, and insert setserial /dev/ttyS3 uart 16550A port 0x6400 irq 11 as the last line. _________________________________________________________ *TEST CONDITIONS: OS: RedHat Linux 5.2 Boxed CD with Linux kernel 2.0.36 BIOS: AWARD MOTHERBOARD: Shuttle Hot 557 w/i437 VX chipset and latest BIOS update. CPU: Intel Pentium 166MMX cpu MEMORY: 32 MB EDO RAM VIDEO: PCI S3 Virge DX with 2mb memory STORAGE: 820 Quantum EIDE Hard Drive, ATAPI CD-ROM, 3.5'' floppy SOUND: Creative Labs Sound Blaster AWE 32 PNP * As each user with Linux is more than likely to have a unique setup, the details listed above should comply with other versions of Linux as well, ie Slackware, Redhat, etc. But are NOT 100% guaranteed to have an identical setup method as far as exact commends, etc. are concerned. Richard Nelson Actiontec Electronics, INC
---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 11:07:21 -0400 From: Thor Johnson To: Subject: Multitech MT5634ZPX-PCI -- Good Just wanted to let you know that its no longer uncharted territory ;) We got one & it works. You have to follow the instructions on to initialize the uart. A bit pricey, but we needed a 56K internal PCI modem. Thor Johnson [email address snipped] ---

Andrew Comech
Mathematics Department
SUNY at Stony Brook
Stony Brook, NY 11794