1. Introduction

DSL, or Digital Subscriber Loop, is a high-speed Internet access technology that uses a standard copper telephone line (a.k.a. "loop" in telco parlance). DSL provides a direct, dedicated connection to an ISP via the existing telco network. DSL is designed to run on up to 80% of the telephone lines available in the United States. By using line-adaptive modulation, DSL is capable of providing data speeds of 8 Mbps, or more.

DSL services are now being aggressively marketed for home and small business use. DSL is typically priced below ISDN, and well below T1 service, yet can provide potentially even greater speeds than T1 without the cost, complexity, and availability issues of T1. Since DSL is a dedicated, often "always on" service, it avoids the delays and use charges that are common with ISDN. Making this quite a nice technology for the bandwidth starved masses.

While all this sounds exciting, DSL does have some drawbacks. The quality of the DSL signal, and thus the connection, depends on distance (the length of the copper "loop") and various other factors. Also, there is no such thing as standard "DSL". There are various flavors of DSL, and many, many ways DSL providers are implementing their networks. In typical fashion, Linux users are often left to fend for themselves, since the DSL providers are often taking the easy way out, and catering only to "mainstream" Operating Systems.

The topics included in this HOWTO include qualification and pre-installation, installation, configuration, troubleshooting and securing a DSL connection. As well as other related topics. There are also appendices including a comprehensive DSL Overview, Frequently Asked Questions, a listing of related links, and a glossary.

Due to the fast pace of change in the telco and DSL industries, please make sure you have the latest version of this document. The current official version can always be found at http://www.linuxdoc.org/HOWTO/DSL-HOWTO/. Pre-release versions can be found at http://feenix.burgiss.net/ldp/adsl/.

1.1. Document Structure and Reading Guidelines

This document attempts to give a comprehensive discussion of DSL. All aspects are hopefully addressed to one degree or another with what can be a complex topic since it deals with networking, hardware, new fangled technologies, and various approaches taken by various vendors. The core components of this document are:

To simplify the navigation of this document, below is a suggested reading guideline. Everyone should read the Introduction. Please pay special attention to the Conventions and Terminology section, as some of this terminology may be used somewhat differently in other contexts. Also, there is a Glossary if you get lost in the world of TA (telco acronyms) ;-).

1.2. What's New

Version 1.3: Updates to the SpeedTouch USB HOWTO in the appendix. Minor update to PPPoE section, and two new Linux Friendly ISPs. A feeble attempt to make the document a little less U.S.-centric. Various minor updates.

Version 1.2 adds PPTP configuration section for Alcatel ethernet modems. Also, added are two additional sections in the "Tuning" section for the TCP Receive window, and ADSL/DMT interleaving. And the big news is the release of open source drivers for the Alcatel USB modem as of March 2001. There is an Alcatel SpeedTouch USB mini HOWTO in the appendix by Chris Jones. A number of miscellaneous updates as well.

Version 1.1 included quite a few minor corrections, updates, and additions. Not much that is substantially new. There are finally two Linux compatible DSL PCI modems from Xpeed. The drivers are now in the kernel 2.2.18 source.

Version .99 addresses some of the many changes that have occurred since the original ADSL mini HOWTO was published. Originally, ADSL was the primary DSL technology being deployed, but more and more some of the other DSL flavors are entering the picture -- IDSL, SDSL, G.Lite, and RADSL. Thus the renaming from "ADSL mini HOWTO" to the "DSL HOWTO". There have been many other changes in DSL technology as well. PPPoE/A encapsulation has become more and more common as many ISPs are jumping on this bandwagon.

1.3. Copyright

DSL HOWTO for Linux (formerly the ADSL mini HOWTO)

Copyright 1998,1999 David Fannin.

This document is free; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This document is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You can get a copy of the GNU GPL at at GNU GPL.

1.4. Credits

Thanks to all those that contributed information to this HOWTO. I have anti-spammed their email addresses for their safety (and mine!). Remove the X's from their names.

1.5. Disclaimer

The authors accept no liability for the contents of this document. Use the concepts, examples and other content at your own risk. As this is a new edition, there may be errors and inaccuracies. Hopefully these are few and far between. The author(s) do not accept any responsibility for incorrect or misleading information, and would certainly appreciate any corrections. Also, this type of technology dates itself very quickly. What may be true today, is not guaranteed to be true tomorrow.

All copyrights are held by their by their respective owners, unless specifically noted otherwise. Use of a term in this document should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.

References to any particular product, brand, service or company should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation.

1.6. Feedback

Any and all comments on this document are most welcomed. Please make sure you have the most current version before submitting corrections! These can be sent to

1.7. Conventions, Usage and Terminology

For the sake of simplicity and sanity, let's clarify some of the terminology that we will be using in this document, so that we are all on the same page. While many of the definitions below are not always 100% technically correct, they are close enough for our purposes here. In fast moving technologies like DSL, there are so many "ifs, ands, and buts" that it is difficult to say anything with any degree of certainty and have it stick. And there are exceptions to almost every rule. And sometimes exceptions to the exceptions. We will be dealing with generalities to a large degree here, please keep that in mind.