Thursday, March 31, 2011

Using pppconfig with Mobile Broadband

The most stable way to connect to mobile broadband internet connections, is to use pppconfig. This is a brief tutorial on how to do that.

1) Open up a terminal
2) run sudo pppconfig
3) create a connection, and name it something distinctive

4) dns
If you know of good dns address, you can choose static and place them.
Otherwise, choose dynamic

5) Authentication Method
Choose "CHAP" unless you know which you should use.

6) Username and password
Enter the username and password provided with the modem

7) Modem Speed
Leave the modem speed the default that they give you

8) Pulse or Tone
Leave the Pulse or Tone setting, the one that they give you

9) Phone Number
For the phone number enter one of the two numbers below:
*99# if the modem is GSM
#777 if the modem is CDMA

10) Modem Port
For the Modem Port, you'll have to type it in manually:

11) Scroll to "Advanced options" and press "enter"

12) Scroll to "Persist" and press enter
13) Choose "Yes" to enable

14) Once you're finished, scroll to "previous", press enter. Scroll to "Finished" and press enter.
Scroll to "quit" and press enter.

Adding more options to your connection to stablize it:
1) remember the name of your connection that you chose in step three of pppconfig.
2) Alt+f2 for the run prompt, and type:
gksudo gedit /etc/ppp/peers/
3) Add the following text at the end of the file:
lcp-echo-failure 100
lcp-echo-interval 36000
(Don't put the "=" in the file, just what's in between)

4) Save the file and close

Running your connection
1) make sure that your modem is connected *after* the computer is turned on.
2) remember the name of your connection that you chose in step three of pppconfig
3) run "sudo pon " or if you left it default (providers) just run "sudo pon"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Installing Software and providing support

One of the big issues that we have as a group of two, running technical support for schools across Kenya is managing to find a way that we can help everyone while not actually being there.

Ok, so we haven't really had this problem too much yet, but I can only imagine how bad it will get.

To fix this problem we've decided that one of the best options is to teach the school how to install; that way if there's a major problem they can just wipe the computers and start over.
This means two things:
1) we have to make our content easily accessible
2) we have to use a distro that is very easy to install and set up.

We've decided that Linux Mint is the best option. Both Linux Mint 9 and 10 look very similar to Windows, and have a simple interface.

So then we just need to teach them how to install basic software after they do the installation from disk, which didn't turn out to be that bad.

Most of our communication is done on-line so that makes it easier also.

This means that the major issues that we might have are with the software that's supposed to save them bandwidth (apt-cacher-ng, and squid) as those are the two complex networking softwares that would be hardest to fix. So far we haven't heard of many examples where schools have had problems with them.

On the other hand of it, another technical guy from the area and I are working together to figure out how we can prepare for the year I won't be here. This involves teaching him quite a bit of linux, since his background is in Windows.
I've found a few resources, nothing amazing, but stuff that might be helpful if someone else was trying to pick it up. For the most part a combination of the Ubuntu manual and the Linux Mint manual have helped, though I'm still hoping to find a good, online, resource for learning Bash and general command prompt commands.