Using the Alcatel SpeedTouch USB ADSL modem with Red Hat 7.2/7.3/8.0 Linux

J.D. Frankland , 8 April 2002
Updated 17 September 2002 concerning RedHat 7.3, kernel updates, and plugin
Updated 24 March 2003 with some clarifications on sarlib compilation, and news concerning RedHat 8.0

Updated 7 June 2003: repaired broken link to Papillaut driver (driver no longer available on

0. RedHat 8.0

1. Introduction

2. Starting conditions

3. Sources of information

4. What to do ?

5. Getting connected

6. Additional remarks

0. RedHat 8.0

If you use RedHat 8.0 then you had better read this before going any further. I have found that a version of the Benoit Papillaut driver works fine with this release, and what's more is extremely easy to install. It also appears that the method proposed here for RedHat 7.2/7.3 does not work with RedHat 8.0, I think this is due to the version of the gcc compiler which is installed as standard with RH8 (gcc-3.2 instead of gcc-2.96). The problem seems to come at the compilation of "sarlib", when error mesages appear such as
/usr/src/linux/include/linux/malloc.h:4:2:  #error linux/malloc.h is deprecated, use linux/slab.h instead.
make: *** [sarlib.o] Error 1
This is typical of ANSI-standard compatibility problems seen when passing from gcc-2.96 to gcc-3.2. (Thanks to Bill Fisher and Gilles Yue for reporting this - and for their patience!).

I installed the package you'll find here which is a version of the Papillaut driver. I did this by following their instructions and it was a lot easier and faster than all that you will find on this page. You may still find some of the information on configuring the connection given here to be useful. I don't know if this solution also works for RH7.2/7.3 (judging by the HTML address of the RPM webpage, it should work from 7.2 onwards...), I don't remember if I tried it before or if I tried a driver from the SourceForge homepage of Benoit's driver (the packages on SourceForge aren't the same). You need to download the Alcatel microcode and copy it to

An additional advantage of using this driver is that you can set the thing up so that your connection is established automatically at boot-time (translation: this is the only one I have actually managed to figure this out for ;-). You need to modify slightly the /usr/sbin/stusb script so that it becomes a "SysVInit" script. You can download the modified script here. Then, in order for it to work, put this script in the directory

Then, as root, type the following command:
chkconfig stusb on
If you type
chkconfig --list stusb
you should see
 stusb           0:off   1:off   2:on    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off
The connection will be established the next time you reboot.

The only problem I have remarked with this method is that from time to time, without explanation, the connection is broken (ISP ?). In this case, despite all the precautions taken in the SysV script, doing a

/etc/rc.d/init.d/stusb restart
probably will not bring the connection back up. You need to look at the result of
ps aux
and (as root) kill any instances of modem_run or pppd/pppoa which are running. Then disconnect and reconnect the modem and
/etc/rc.d/init.d/stusb start

1. Introduction

I have just succeeded in using my ADSL internet connection with Red Hat 7.2. As it took me about a month (not continuously ;-) ) to do it, and as I didn't find any accounts of other people having managed it for this particuar distribution, I thought I'd better try to write a kind of "how to" (although I am far from being qualified to do so).

The reason I'm doing this is because neither the Benoît Papillaut driver/method, nor the Johan Verrept driver/method worked in my case. Well, not by following their "howto" to the letter, at any rate. The working solution uses the Verrept driver, and mixes in some Papillaut with a bit of Faust (?) for the pppoatm part (see below).

So I'll try to write down exactly what I did, hoping that I don't miss anything out, and knowing that what I really should do is
(a) write the "howto",
(b) wipe everything off my computer,
(c) put everything back in its right place using the "howto", thus checking that I know what I'm talking about...
But of course, I'm not going to take that risk! So, let's be clear right from the start: I do not promise that this will work for you, but maybe you will get some useful new information from me that you didn't find elsewhere, and which may help you on your way. OK ?

2. Starting conditions other words: what computer, what stuff installed on it already, and why couldn't I just use the existing how-to's for SpeedTouch ?

i. Hardware

I set this up on a Compaq Presario 2710 laptop. This is (was) basically a Windows XP box with a 1.13GHz Pentium III, 250Mb of RAM, 32Mb Radeon Mobility graphics card, 10/100 Ethernet card, DVD/CD-RW combo, etc. My first act on opening the box was to ditch XP, split the hard disk into two 10Gb chunks, and put W2000 professional in the first one.

ii. Linux installation

As already mentioned, I used Red Hat 7.2 to install Linux on my laptop. This distribution provides the 2.4.7-10 kernel. The installer did a great job of identifying and taking control of everything almost without any assistance - graphics card, sound card, ethernet card, etc. etc. Much better than Mandrake 8.1, which I tried after some of my early failures with SpeedTouch. I have a HP Pavilion 6715 PC at home, 600MHz Celeron, 32Mb NVidia GeForce MX graphics card, Agfa Snapscan Touch USB scanner, Lexmark Z22 printer, plus of course the SpeedTouch USB. Mandrake 8.1 installation on this machine was a doddle - not only does the distribution include support for SpeedTouch that you simply (and minimally) configure during setup, but it even detected and installed a (working) driver for what must be one of the most notorious Winprinters ever made!

However, on the Presario, Mandrake fared far less well - after installation about the only part of the system configured correctly was the keyboard! Everything else was "unknown device". So I had to come back to Red Hat 7.2 and find out how to use my Speed Touch the hard way.

A word of warning about RH7.2:

in order to be able to do everything that's coming next, make sure that you/RH install(s) the following essential tools: make, automake, kgcc, egcs (plus the backwards compatible versions), libgcc, rpm, gcc, binutils, libcdevel, cpp, etc. etc. This stuff is mostly in the Development package class, some are in the System, I don't know about the rest. Some (all) of this you would think would be in any standard basic linux installation, but beware! If you do a "recommended" install of RH7.2 without checking the individual packages yourself, you may find yourself surprisingly under-equipped when it comes to compiling and installing the packages...

3. Sources of information other words, whose words of wisdom enabled me to sort this out ? Three main sources, three "how-to"'s in fact:
i. the howto for Benoît Papillaut's driver
ii. the howto for Johan Verrept's driver
iii. BeWAN ADSL PCI ST howto by Faust
Believe me, I know absolutely nothing about anything that follows apart from what I read in these people's web pages. Let them receive all due credit and thanks here. In the following I'll refer to them as BP, JV and F, respectively.

They are presented in chronological order. My first try was with the BP "model" and seemed to block at the USB level (although my 2.4.7-10 kernel fully supported USB devices). My second try was with the JV ten-step kernel recompilation approach, and broke down because although I followed the instructions to the letter, a very important file (/usr/lib/pppd/plugins/ that should have been there wasn't, and that was the end of that. Finally I found F's howto for a different ADSL modem, found the solution to the problem, and finally got it together with the JV driver.

4. What to do ?

i. Update the kernel to 2.4.9-31 for PPPoATM support

Note (September 17th 2002): The RH7.2 distribution came with the 2.4.7-10 kernel which had no support for PPPoATM. The first RH kernel with support was one of the 2.4.9-* kernels. However, in the case of RH7.3 the kernel is 2.4.18-3, which already includes PPPoATM support, so you can skip this part. If in doubt, check that the file /lib/modules/2.4.x-x/kernel/net/atm/pppoatm.o is present on your machine, then PPPoATM support is included.

Now I do not mean JV's death-defying ten-step kernel reconfig and recompilation!!! No, I am a complete novice, I do not want to do anything more complicated than download a few RPM's and install them with Red Hat's Package Manager. However, in order to get this thing off the ground, you need a kernel which supports PPP over ATM. For Red Hat 7.2, and in RPM form, this currently means the 2.4.9-31 kernel.

Download both the kernel itself, kernel-2.4.9-31.i686.rpm (if i686 is not your architecture, choose the right one from the list here ) and the source files kernel-source-2.4.9-31.i386.rpm  which you'll need later on for compiling something else (I could only find an i386 version at, I don't think it matters - well it works, anyway!). In the same place as the new kernel, you'll find an up to date version of glibc too, which I probably installed with Package Manager before going on.

In order to be able to install the new kernel, you need to have a version of modutils which is at least as recent as 2.4.13. If in doubt, get modutils-2.4.13-0.7.1.i386.rpm and install it before going on. (There may be other unsatisfied dependencies when you try to install the kernel: if so, just get the necessary packages from and install them before re-installing the kernel).

Now, following F's instructions, update to the new kernel by doing this:

/bin/rpm -Fvh kernel-2.4.9-31.xxxx.rpm

where "xxxx" is your architecture, and you "cd" to the directory where you downloaded the kernel RPM beforehand. You can install the kernel source files with Package Manager.
Next do the following:

/sbin/mkinitrd -f /boot/initrd-2.4.9-31.img 2.4.9-31

If you use a the GRUB bootloader you can safely (?) reboot now ( /sbin/reboot). If it's LILO, then you have to do some more fiddling about, see F for details.

After the reboot, you still have to do the following (as 'root'):

/sbin/depmod -ae -F /boot/

If all went well, then the following file must exist:


If so, then carry on. If not, then I don't know why. Start again ?

ii. Install PPP daemon version 2.4.0-2

It is strange but true that, when it comes to pppd, having the latest version on the market is no good at all. You need an old version, 2.4.0-2 to be precise, in order to be able to use your SpeedTouch modem.

Why? To run the modem you need to use the "PPP over ATM" protocol, which means that you need to use a plug-in for this purpose with pppd. Now, the tricky bit is that although the versions of pppd which shipped with RH7.2/3 (2.4.1-2 and 2.4.1-3, respectively) can accept plug-ins, the actual plug-in itself (a file called is not provided with these versions.

The only way (as far as I know) to have both pppd and plug-in is to install the patched version 2.4.0-2 available from You can check to see if, by some stroke of luck, you already have the plug-in, by verifying whether or not the file


exists on your system. If not, then you need to download the pppd RPM here: ppp-2.4.0-2.i386.rpm

Now, check the version of pppd you have by typing:

rpm -q ppp

If the version number is superior to 2.4.0-2 (i.e. 2.4.1-2 for a standard RH7.2 system) then you will have to uninstall the existing version of pppd before attempting to install version 2.4.0-2. Do this by typing (you probably need to be "root"):

/bin/rpm -ev --nodeps ppp

Now you can install version 2.4.0-2 with the command

/bin/rpm -Uvh ppp-2.4.0-2.i386.rpm

The plugin /usr/lib/pppd/plugins/ should be there now!

The next step is to configure PPPD by adapting three files: /etc/ppp/options, /etc/ppp/chap-secrets , and /etc/ppp/pap-secrets. The ones I use are a mix of BP and JV.

Here's /etc/ppp/options:

asyncmap 0
lcp-echo-interval 2
lcp-echo-failure 7
name xxx@clubadsl1
user xxx@clubadsl1

plugin /usr/lib/pppd/plugins/

On the lines beginning 'name' and 'user' you have to put the username you use to log in to your ISP provider. As an anecdote, for Club Internet the username is 'xxx', and when you try to configure your Windows connection with their installation kit, it also uses 'xxx' and it's only when you manage to get through to their hotline to find out why you can't connect that they tell you to put 'xxx@clubadsl1'. Apart from that little quibble, I have no complaints to make about my ISP!!!
Note also that I live in France and so 8.35 is the "VP.VC" for me. For a list of numbers for different countries, see JV's FAQ

Here's /etc/ppp/chap-secrets:

# Secrets for authentication using CHAP
# client        server  secret                  IP addresses
xxx@clubadsl1   *       rqp398u2                *

Here's /etc/ppp/pap-secrets:

# Secrets for authentication using PAP
# client        server  secret                  IP addresses
xxx@clubadsl1   *       rqp398u2                *

Obviously, here you have to put your username and password given by your ISP, instead of "xxx@clubadsl1" and "rqp398u2" (which I made up!).

Another thing that you can do which may be helpful later on is to edit or create the files /etc/resolv.conf and /etc/ppp/resolv.conf and put in them your ISP's DNS servers (if you know them). The two files are identical and contain simply two lines like this:


where the first should be your primary DNS server, the second your secondary server.

iii. Install the SpeedTouch Kernel Module

This is where we come back to the JV howto (at step 5). Download the two following files into the same directory:


Untar and build the SARLib:
tar zxvf sarlib-0.2.4.tgz
If this creates a directory called 'sarlib-0.2.4' instead of 'sarlib' then you should rename it 'sarlib' before trying to build the SpeedTouch module.

Now before trying to compile sarlib, you need to have the sources of your currently working kernel installed on your machine.
This means installing a package such as kernel-2.4.x-xxxx.src.rpm (which can be found e.g. at Make sure that the kernel source is exactly the same version as the kernel you have running on your box!

The kernel sources should be in a directory called /usr/src/linux-2.4.x-x.x.x

In order for the compilation of sarlib to work you need to do the following:
Make the symbolic link /usr/src/linux by typing:
ln -s /usr/src/linux-2.4.x-x.x.x /usr/src/linux
(replacing the "x"'s with the real figures of course ;-)

Now if you look at the contents of the directory /usr/src/linux/configs you should get a listing something like this:

 44K kernel-2.4.x-athlon.config        44K kernel-2.4.x-i686.config
 44K kernel-2.4.x-athlon-smp.config    44K kernel-2.4.x-i686-debug.config
 56K kernel-2.4.x-i386-BOOT.config     44K kernel-2.4.x-i686-smp.config
 44K kernel-2.4.x-i386.config          40K kernel-2.4.x-i686-uml.config
 44K kernel-2.4.x-i586.config          44K kernel-2.4.x-x86_64.config
 44K kernel-2.4.x-i586-smp.config      44K kernel-2.4.x-x86_64-smp.config
 44K kernel-2.4.x-i686-bigmem.config

One of these "config" files should correspond to the architecture of your machine i.e. its processor.
In my case it's an "i686" (you can check both the machine type and the exact version of your
kernel by launching the KDE Control Center - assuming you have KDE installed - on the welcome
page you should see the kernel version number next to "Release:" and the architecture next to

Once you know which "config" to use, make the following symbolic link:
ln -s /usr/src/linux/configs/kernel-2.4.18-xxxx.config /usr/src/linux/.config

OK, let's compile the sarlib:
cd sarlib
Now we'll make the SpeedTouch module itself:
tar zxvf speedtouch-1.5.tar.gz
cd SpeedTouch

Edit the file speedtouch.c and remove the following line:

#define DEBUG_PACKET 1

before carrying on with:
make install

Ignore errors such as
depmod: ***Unresolved symbols in /lib/modules/2.4.9-31/kernel/drivers/usb/speedtch.o
 (which you may not see here but some time later...)

iv. Install the binary management application

Get the code speedmgmt.tar.gz from Alcatel themselves. Then uncompress and install it:

tar zxvf speedmgmt.tar.gz
cd mgmt
make install

This is where you'll run into problems if you don't have kgcc and egcs-2.91.66.

5. Getting connected

Right, now you should be ready to go. JV's hotplugging business hasn't worked for me yet (I don't know if I'll bother to work out why), so I wrote myself a little shell script (based on BP, JV and F) which sets up my connection. This is the script:


# configuration and startup-script for the Alcatel SpeedTouch USB modem
        echo "SpeedTouch Inserting module."
        /sbin/modprobe -k speedtch

        echo "SpeedTouch Attempting to start management deamon"
        /usr/sbin/speedmgmt &

        echo "Starting pppoatm"
        /sbin/modprobe pppoatm

        echo "Waiting..."
        sleep 15

        echo "Connecting..."
        /usr/sbin/pppd user xxx@clubadsl1
        /sbin/ifconfig ppp0

I run this from a command line prompt as 'root'. When I do this I see the following output:

SpeedTouch Inserting module.
Warning: loading /lib/modules/2.4.9-31/kernel/drivers/usb/speedtch.o will taint the kernel: no license
SpeedTouch Attempting to start management deamon
Starting pppoatm
Plugin /usr/lib/pppd/plugins/ loaded.
PPPoATM plugin_init
PPPoATM setdevname_pppoatm
PPPoATM setdevname_pppoatm - SUCCESS
ppp0      Link encap:Point-to-Point Protocol
          RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:3
          RX bytes:0 (0.0 b)  TX bytes:0 (0.0 b)

And if I look in /var/log/messages I see (not necessarily all in one continuous stream, but close to the end of the file) (this is for the case where I launch the connection just after booting):

Apr  9 18:55:30 ganp571 kernel: usb.c: registered new driver Alcatel SpeedTouch USB
Apr  9 18:55:31 ganp571 Speedmgmt[1286]: Alcatel SpeedTouch USB Management daemon started.
Apr  9 18:55:31 ganp571 Speedmgmt[1286]: (C) Alcatel 2001, Version 1.3.4
Apr  9 18:55:31 ganp571 kernel: usb_control/bulk_msg: timeout
Apr  9 18:55:31 ganp571 kernel: usbdevfs: USBDEVFS_BULK failed dev 2 ep 0x85 len 512 ret -110
Apr  9 18:55:31 ganp571 Speedmgmt[1286]: Preceding (timeout) error messages are normal.
Apr  9 18:55:31 ganp571 kernel: PPP generic driver version 2.4.1
Apr  9 18:55:35 ganp571 kernel: usb_control/bulk_msg: timeout
Apr  9 18:55:46 ganp571 pppd[1289]: Plugin /usr/lib/pppd/plugins/ loaded.
Apr  9 18:55:46 ganp571 pppd[1289]: PPPoATM plugin_init
Apr  9 18:55:46 ganp571 pppd[1289]: PPPoATM setdevname_pppoatm
Apr  9 18:55:46 ganp571 pppd[1289]: PPPoATM setdevname_pppoatm - SUCCESS
Apr  9 18:55:46 ganp571 pppd[1290]: pppd 2.4.0 started by root, uid 0
Apr  9 18:55:46 ganp571 pppd[1290]: Using interface ppp0
Apr  9 18:55:46 ganp571 pppd[1290]: Connect: ppp0 <-->
Apr  9 18:55:49 ganp571 Speedmgmt[1286]: Modem initialised at 608 kbit/s downstream and 160 kbit/s upstream
Apr  9 18:55:54 ganp571 kernel: PPP BSD Compression module registered
Apr  9 18:55:54 ganp571 kernel: PPP Deflate Compression module registered
Apr  9 18:55:54 ganp571 pppd[1290]: local  IP address
Apr  9 18:55:54 ganp571 pppd[1290]: remote IP address
Apr  9 18:55:54 ganp571 pppd[1290]: primary   DNS address
Apr  9 18:55:54 ganp571 pppd[1290]: secondary DNS address

To end the connection, or in any case before I shut down my computer (because otherwise the kernel 'panics' and 'shuts down interrupts' or something like that...anyway I ended up having to pull the plug rather violently ;-)
I 'kill' pppd (as F proposes):

ps -C pppd
kill jobid

where 'jobid' is the number of the process under which pppd is running, returned by 'ps'.

6. Additional remarks

Just to make things a little more complicated, at the lab I use my laptop on a LAN via the internal Ethernet card. This means that my machine has a fixed IP address at the lab, and a totally different 'dynamic' IP given by my ISP when I connect at home. This means that I already had an /etc/resolve.conf file with the DNS servers of my lab's LAN in it. Also, at start-up of the ADSL connection I got a message in the /var/log/messages file about "default IP address of ganp571 not changed", in other words there was some serious interference between my two configured network protocols. When I first connected, I found I couldn't actually open any web-pages or communicate with the outside world.

I have resolved this problem (for the moment) by going into interactive start-up mode when I boot, and stopping the 'isdn' and 'network' services from starting up. I also made a copy of the /etc/resolv.conf file, let's call it /etc/resolv.conf.lab, and made a new one called /etc/resolv.conf.adsl. Then I made a symbolic link /etc/resolv.conf which for the moment points to /etc/resolv.conf.adsl. I manually switch between the two resolv.conf files depending on if I'm at home or at work. This works, but if somebody knows of an easier (preferably with a nice graphical interface) way to manage different internet profiles on a RedHat box, I'm interested!