Dial-up Networking in Debian Squeeze

Okay, so I'm sure most of you Debian Squeeze users out there are not on dial-up, but I'm one of them, and I had some trouble setting up dial-up so I decided to write this guide. A few things have changed in Squeeze and so the other guides on the internet, though mostly helpful, were not completely helpful. So here this one is.

The nice thing about this version of Debian, is that it includes everything you need to get started, without having to apt-get anything! (Yes, I am aware of Synaptic and Aptitude as well. We won't be needing those either.) The not-so-nice thing, is that this is one of those few rough edges that actually has no gui to set it up. Fortunately, the text files that you have to change are pretty easy to figure out. So, our first step is to open up a terminal window. It's probably hiding under Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal.

Once you've got your Terminal window up, you will need to type in the command

sudo su

and put in your password. Depending on the way your system is set up, this may be your login password, or your root password. Then, never ever do this again, because it's bad but very handy practice. (You can do it again later if you really know what you're doing.)

Now that we've got a root shell, we need to find where our modem is. If you know the device file corresponding to your modem, you may skip down to here . If not, the instructions here will hopefully help you out. Our first guess will be /dev/modem . To test this guess, we will type in

echo "ATDT2345678901" > /dev/modem

and press enter. Then, check to see if it dialed out. (You can replace the 2345678901 part with any phone number, such as your cell phone.) If it did, then you should type

echo "ATH" > /dev/modem

to hang up. If it didn't dial, then try

echo "ATDT2345678901" > /dev/ttyS0

If not that, it should at least under /dev/ttyS1 or 2 or 3 or etc. If you can't find it, then unfortunately I'm going to have to tell you to google for "Winmodems under Debian Squeeze," as I don't know much about those. If you do find it, then note that your modem is located at /dev/whatever_you_put_here_that_worked and we can continue on setting up our connection.

Setting it up

Now that we've got the location of our modem, we can set up our connection. Our first file that we're going to edit is called /etc/ppp/peers/provider and we can edit it by typing in the following

nano /etc/ppp/peers/provider

and pressing enter. With this file editor, we cannot use the mouse. Instead, we will use the arrow keys to position our cursor for typing. There should be a line in the file that looks like


If the modem device that we found in the previous step is not /dev/modem , then you need to change this line to what the device was.

Above that line is one that should begin with the word, "connect." In that line may be a series of *'s. Replace that series with the phone number of your ISP. Then press Ctrl+o and enter to save the file, and Ctrl+x to exit.

Our next file that we need to edit is /etc/chatscripts/pap , and it can be edited by typing

nano /etc/chatscripts/pap

and pressing enter. At the end of the file, we need to add two lines. They should look something like this.

ogin Your Username Here
word \q Your Password Here

replacing the bold parts with your username and password, respectively. Note that if you're using MSN dial-up, your username will have MSN/ at the beginning of it. Now press Ctrl+o and enter to save, and Ctrl+x to exit. You've now configured all of the files that you need to! Pat yourself on the back. Now type


and press enter, and


and enter again to close the terminal window. Now reboot the computer and log back in.

To actually connect to our connection, we will open up a Terminal window and type in

sudo pon

and press enter. You may need to type in your computer password. Then, wait a moment and type

sudo route add default ppp0

and press enter. Now, you've got dial-up internet access. Congratulate yourself by buying a turtle! Once you're done with the internet, to disconnect, type

sudo poff

into the Terminal window and press enter to disconnect. Then, sit back and wish broadband internet was free. Oh, if only it were.

Update: I've finally got broadband! (Shut up, bragger.)

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