A common problem for many Linux users is configuring Internet connections. Most Linux versions include PPP (Point to Point Protocol) and SLIP (Serial Line Interface Protocol) stacks as part of the distribution, but configuring them and finding the add-on utilities you need to leverage them when connected to the Internet can be tricky. Amid the growing market of add-on commercial products for Linux, SpellCaster Telecommunications offers Babylon, a one-stop solution for Linux PPP.

Babylon is the most complete telecommunications product for Linux I know of. It is device-independent, so you don’t have to be worried about whether it will function over your modem and connection type. We used Babylon equally well with several standard asynchronous modems, as well as both an ISDN link and a T1 line. Each Babylon connection to an ISP or directly to the Internet (much rarer) supports 256 connections at the same time, so you can support multiple users, or multiple sessions, during use. Routing and IP addressing within Babylon can be either static or dynamic, which covers all the variations you are likely to find from an ISP.

Babylon includes a complete PPP implementation, as well as the two commonly used authentication protocols; CHAP (Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol) and PAP (Password Authentication Protocol). You don’t have to use CHAP or PAP, but some ISPs are now offering support to allow your system security to be improved. Babylon also adds support for LCP (Link Control Protocol) and IPCP (Internet Protocol Control Protocol).

Babylon arrived on a CD-ROM. I tried to with three different Linux releases, two Slackware versions and RedHat. It worked the same with all three. Installation involves mounting the CD-ROM, changing to the Babylon directory on the CD-ROM, then running an installation script. A utility handles the configuration and authentication process. Total installation time is about five minutes. Babylon worked perfectly the first time I tried it, connecting and establishing PAP with my ISP. For ease of use, Babylon beats the old manual edit method of configuring Linux for PPP.

If you use your Linux system for Internet connections, whether for business or pleasure, and you use PPP, Babylon will make life easier for you. This is especially try if you haven’t configured your connection yet, either because you never got around to it or it is too complicated. While it is a commercial product, Babylon is not overly expensive and does the job it claims to perform perfectly.