I've been using a Lucent winmodem under Linux without problems for the last 8months. While originally the drivers (which were actually kernel modules) were closed source and only worked properly with a specific version of the kernel, they have since improved greatly, supporting both 2.2 and 2.4 kernels.

As for the hardware being crap, I'm not sure what your problem is. My modem is an ultra-generic (No manufacturer's name on the box, but it does have a Lifetime Waranty) one that cost me less than $25 retail. I can only assume that it's very closesly based on the reference board, as /proc/pci reports: Communication controller: Lucent (ex-AT&T) Microelectronics L56xMF (rev 1)

The only bad thing I have to say 'bout the unit is that the (outdated) version of the drivers I'm using maps to /dev/ttyS14. Serial port FIFTEEN, WTF?

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