I don't think linux has the advantage when It
comes to complete novices
like me. I think Windows, with all its faults, still is easier to set up
and run out of the box than Linux. I think it has a way to go before it
is serious competition with windows for anyone other than advanced
computer users. The learning curve is very steep. Its such a shame
because Linux seems so attractive.
There's a large element of luck in it too, if you aren't already
familiar with linux. By that I mean that if you aren't planning on
buying hardware that is specifically compatible with linux, it's all
down to luck as to how well things will work or not :P
Your problem in particular is made harder for me (and most others with
plenty of experience) to diagnose because, for the most part, we stopped
using dialup a long time ago. Linux support for the so-called winmodems
is far better than it used to be (they never used to work, and now, in
general, they do).
I can probably dig up a *real* external serial modem for you to borrow
(or buy, if you like). No drivers needed. I see you're from New
Plymouth, so suggesting you come to the Saturday workshop probably
doesn't help a lot.
Just a question though - you're managing to download files (and send
email)somehow, what computer and connection are you using for that?