Learning Debian GNU/LinuxBy Bill McCarty
1st Edition September 1999
1-56592-705-2, Order Number: 7052
360 pages, $34.95 , Includes CD-ROM
This chapter explains how to use Linux to connect to remote servers. First, it explains how to use wvdial, a program that makes it easy to connect to the Internet via a PPP connection provided by an ISP. Then, the chapter explains basic TCP/IP network concepts that you must know in order to administer a Linux system connected to the Internet or a local area network. So that you can use your knowledge of TCP/IP effectively, the chapter explains how to use pppconfig to configure and administer a system that connects to a local area network and to a remote server via PPP. Next, the chapter describes several popular network client applications available under Linux, including a web browser and an FTP client. The chapter then describes the use of minicom and seyon, which provide dial-out capabilities like those of Window's hyperterminal. Finally, the chapter shows how to make a PPP connection manually, by using minicom.
Most Internet service providers (ISPs) offer two primary types of service: shell accounts and PPP (point-to-point protocol) accounts. Shell accounts were more popular before the advent of the Web. A shell account lets you use your computer much as if it were a virtual console associated with a remote computer. You can type commands, which are interpreted by the remote computer, and view the resulting output on your computer. Although a few web browsers, such as Lynx, can operate via a shell account, they don't generally support the highly graphical, multimedia pages which web surfers have come to expect.
In contrast, a PPP account connects your computer directly to the Internet. While your computer is connected to the Internet, you can use it to surf the Web with your favorite browser. If your ISP allows, you can even run a web server, providing pages that can be viewed by others around the world.
You can compare the two types of Internet accounts - shell and PPP - with two kinds of postal service. Imagine that no mail carrier actually comes to your home to pick and deliver mail. Instead, every time you want to conduct postal business, you go to the post office. This resembles a shell account: The computer that connects you to the Internet is remote, and every time you want to do something on the Internet you must open a terminal, or telnet, session to that computer. PPP, on the other hand, is like home delivery: The Internet comes right to your doorstep, and your computer is literally placed on the Internet by the machine at your ISP that you connect to.
Under Microsoft Windows, you use hyperterminal to access a shell account and Dial-Up Networking to access a PPP account. Under Linux, you can choose from among several programs that let you access a shell account. The most commonly used programs are minicom and seyon. To access a PPP account under Linux, you use the PPP daemon, pppd. The next section describes how to use wvdial to make the process of establishing a PPP connection simple.
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