Getting a software modem to work under Ubuntu Linux on an Acer Aspire 3500

May 17th, 2006
I have an Acer Aspire 3500 running Ubuntu Linux, and I occasionally need to use the modem. Unfortunately, the Acer uses a winmodem (softmodem), which is not well supported by linux (because it isn't a true modem).
  1. To locate the appropriate software, I needed to know what chipset my modem used. I used's scanModem utility.
    1. Download scanModem.gz to a working directory.
    2. Extract the gzipped file.
    3. On the command line, change the permissions to allow execution of the script: chmod +x scanModem
    4. I don't know what this does, but you have to do it: sudo modprobe snd-intel8x0m
    5. Run the script: ./scanModem
    6. Don't worry about all the output, just go to the newly created Modem folder. Open ModemData.txt, and scan through for information like "Your modem supports the _____ codec" or "Use a _____ driver". In my case, some text halfway through the ModemData.txt file instructed me to get the hsfmodem driver from There was also an additional file called Conexant.txt detailing HSF modems. If you can't figure it out, subscribe to the linmodems discussion list and send them ModemData.txt and a very nice request for help.
  2. If, like myself, you have a Conexant chipset modem, the following instructions may be of some use.

    Conexant is a manufacturer of softmodems. Linuxant has a contract allowing them access to Conexant's source code and technical information, so they can write software to support the modems under Linux.

    If you have a working ethernet or wireless connection on the machine that needs the modem drivers, use Conexant's online installer. Otherwise, you'll need to download and install the drivers manually.

    • If you are using the online installation:
      1. If you agree to the terms of the license, download the HSF softmodem driver.
      2. Run the file and follow the instructions.
    • If you are installing manually:
      1. Don't bother with the version-specific downloads -- get the generic package with source from the Linuxant HSF downloads page. I use Debian, so I picked the DPKG version.
      2. Download and extract the zip file.
      3. Go to the command line and navigate to the extracted folder.
      4. Before you can install the package, you need to have installed linux-headers-386: sudo apt-get install linux-headers-386
      5. Install the package: sudo dpkg -i hsfmodem_7.47.00.01full_i386.deb
      6. You will be prompted for some configuration information. I just hit enter at each prompt to accpet the default, except for the email address prompt, where I entered my actual email address. They won't spam you.

Installing JamSeeder on Linux

May 1st, 2006
Problem offers a program called JamSeeder that allows users with good bandwidth to seed album torrents. Unfortunately, the info page is hidden and there is little to no documentation, though the statistics page is referenced prominently on the main page. There is also no documentation on installation or usage.
  1. Download the tool from the project page on SourceForge.
  2. Install the RPM. On Debian-type systems (like Ubuntu), use sudo alien --to-deb --install jamseeder-0.9.1-2mdv.noarch.rpm
  3. Run the program using python /usr/share/jamseeder/
  4. Every time you change the settings, you will need to close and re-open the program.
Since JamSeeder uses the official BitTorrent client, which does not support encryption, users behind traffic-shapers or external firewalls will not be able to seed torrents well or at all.

Firefox/Mozilla-firefox package conflict in Ubuntu

September 24th, 2005

This post contained incorrect information and has been modified.

Ubuntu (Hoary Hedgehog) wanted to upgrade Firefox from version 1.0.6 to version 1.0.7, but the upgrade barfed with errors like this: dpkg: error processing /var/cache/apt/archives/mozilla-firefox_1.0.6-0ubuntu0.1_i386.deb (--unpack): trying to overwrite `/var/lib/mozilla-firefox/extensions.d/00classic', which is also in package firefox dpkg-deb: subprocess paste killed by signal (Broken pipe) After that, firefox would no longer start. Apparantly, I somehow had both the "firefox" package and the "mozilla-firefox" package installed. Additionally, they seemed to have cross-dependencies, and simply uninstalling firefox would also affect the packages "yelp", "ubuntu-desktop", and "language-support-en".
  1. Remove all firefox packages. In System:Administration:Synaptic Package Manager, do a search for "firefox" and mark all packages there for removal. Click the "Apply" button, and make note of any other packages that will also be removed. On my system, they were "yelp", "ubuntu-desktop", and "language-support-en".
  2. Reinstall Firefox. In the package manager, mark "firefox" for installation, along with "firefox-dom-inspector" (optional, but I recommend it) and "firefox-gnome-support". If you use a non-US locale, reinstall that as well (it will be something like mozilla-firefox-locale-xx). Apply changes. You should now have the latest version of Firefox, and it should be functional.
  3. Reinstall the affected dependent packages. Search for and install those dependent packages you wrote down two steps ago. Your system should now be essentially unchanged, other than the Firefox upgrade. In the future, only the "firefox" will need upgrading -- this is a one-time bug.
When the Firefox project split off of Mozilla, there was some trickiness in the package naming. The result is a legacy package (mozilla-firefox) that interferes with upgrades -- they share files. Once you kill both and reinstall one, there's no conflict. Incidentally, as long as your settings are stored in the default location, they should carry over to the new install. Make sure to use "Mark for removal", not "Mark for complete removal"; the latter destroys your settings.
Original solution in an Ubuntu support thread.

Totem on Ubuntu – not starting up

August 28th, 2005
Totem on Ubuntu won't start up properly. Error message:
Totem could not startup
Resource busy or not available.
  • Run gstreamer-properties
  • Go to tab "Video"
  • Under "Default Sink", select "SDL" or "XWindows (no xv)"
I actually don't know why this works.
Original solution: Español