Configuring the Linux ACP Modem (Mwave)

For IBM Thinkpad 600, 600E, and 770's

January 07 2003 - The base system is a RedHat 8.0 install on an IBM Thinkpad 600, stock Workstation install, since the Personal Desktop installation will not include the compilation tools necessary to build the mwave drivers on your laptop (read: no gcc, no make, etc... so do yourself a favour and install the Workstation install - its only about 300MB larger).

Download the Mwave drivers from IBM at

  1. Untar the file in /root for instance by typing tar -zxvpf mwave-1.0.4.tar.gz
  2. cd mwavem-1.0.4 and now you're in the directory to start
  3. First ./configure to basically configure the makefile.
  4. Then make. If you're paranoid, run a make check, though its unnecessary. Now do a make install - this will entail a rather long wait of a couple of minutes. Then to clean up the mess, do a make clean.
  5. You've now installed everything that's necessary. mwavem will be in /usr/local/bin, and mwavem.conf will be in /usr/local/etc. Also, a device node would have been built in /dev/modems/mwave.

Now that you've successfully made the binaries and done the necessary, its time to actually use the modem!

  1. In the [WORLDTRADE] section of the mwavem.conf file, you've got to change the Country= parameter to equal the access code of the country you're in. If you're in Malaysia, its 60, or if you're in Australia its 61. So, if in Malaysia, set Country=60.
  2. In the src/mwavem directory, thre's an initialisation script called mwaved. Copy this to /etc/rc.d/init.d and this is what you'd use to get it started up at boot time, in whatever run levels you want it to be run in.
  3. As root, just type mwavem & and then type setserial /dev/ttyS1 autoconfig.
  4. Just in case things didn't work so well, insmod mwave or even modprobe mwave is here to help. Most likely, this is not needed.
  5. You now have a working modem, that Linux itself recognises!

To dial into the Internet, I personally use the wvdial utility, since its a console based application, without all the bells and whistles. There are others, like KPPP or even the Internet Configuration Wizard that you can access via the RedHat icon.

  1. Execute wvdialconf /etc/wvdial.conf
  2. Go into your favourite text editor, and change the Phone Number, username and password.
My wvdial.conf file:
[Dialer MyISP]
Username = myUserName
Password = mySecretPassword
Phone = 1511

So when I need to log into the Internet, I just execute wvdial MyISP and the modem starts dialling in. Only caveat really is that the Password is stored in plaintext in the wvdial.conf file, so anyone with root access can access it.

How's the performance of the modem? My really expensive US Robotics modem connects just about 9600bps higher than the modem built-into my IBM. Not a bad tradeoff, since I don't have to lug around a modem.

Update: 19/01/2003
Putting mwaved into /etc/rc.d/init.d/ and getting it to run as a system service just does what you need to get the modem working. If you don't start it automatically, just do something like ./mwaved start and it will also enable the modem upon a reboot.

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Colin Charles <>, © 1996-2004