X-ISP

The purpose of this article is to introduce the readers to X-ISP.
X-ISP Advantages

The X-ISP package implements a user-friendly interface to pppd/chat and provides maximum feedback from the dial-in and login phases on the browser screen. It saves a lot of time compared to configuring PPP manually. X-ISP has several advantages over manual configuration:

Figure 7. Connection in Process

  • X-ISP enhances the user's knowledge of what is happening while a call is in progress in a graphical way, rather than the usual scripts that write output to the terminal.

  • X-ISP provides a mechanism to save ISP logs and to keep track of how many calls you make, their duration and cost.

  • One major facility is that the user can maintain two databases: one for the ISPs and the other for the phone companies (PTTs). This feature allows the user to configure his machine for more than one ISP and for more than one account with every ISP.

  • The phone company database supports all (known) PTT attributes applicable while logging phone-call costs, and saves its information in a separate file in the subdirectory /.xisplogs in the user's home directory.

X-ISP Requirements and Installation

X-ISP was developed by Dimitrios P. Bouras and can be downloaded at no charge from http://users.hol.gr/~dbouras/.

In order to install the X-ISP package on your system, four requirements must be satisfied:

  • The ppp-2.2.x package must be installed on the system.

  • X11R6 (XFree86 version 3.1.2 or newer) must be installed.

  • The xforms libraries (version 0.88 or newer) are needed. You can download a copy from either http://bloch.phys.uwm.edu/xforms/ or http://bragg.phys.uwm.edu/xforms/.

  • A copy of the XPM library (version 3.4 or later) is also needed.

Once these requirements are fulfilled, installation is straightforward. I have installed X-ISP on several machines (Slackware 3.4, kernel 2.0.30) by running make and make install. I was surprised I did not have to re-edit any configuration file or fix file permissions or anything. It worked perfectly from the first trial. However, in case you run into trouble, an explanation on solving your installation problems is in the documentation.

Documentation

X-ISP comes with a large amount of technical documentation discussing implementation issues, security, architecture, and the interaction between the different components. It also has a good help facility that guides the user through setting up X-ISP step by step. Help is also available on-line from the main window.

Final Word

X-ISP is a very well-thought-out tool. It gives us what we need: a fast way to configure the machine, graphical interface, a graphical control over the chat scripts, and a way to tracks time and cost.

Ibrahim F. Haddad is a Ph.D student at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada. Ibrahim got his master's degree from the Lebanese American University (Byblos Campus, Lebanon) where he was first introduced to Linux in 1994. Among his interests are Internet/Intranet and Web development, e-commerce and distributed objects. Ibrahim can be reached via e-mail at ibrahim@ieee.org.

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