by July 11, 2001 0 comments

After a long wait, Motorola has finally released Linux drivers for their popular SM56 data/fax Internal PCI soft modem. This is the first release and it is free and fully functional.

The driver has also been included on the PCQ Linux CD 2 under /mnt/cdrom/RedHat/RPMS


Mount the PCQ Linux CD 2 and change to /mnt/cdrom/RedHat/RPMS/
~# rpm -Uvh sm56-85.1-10.i386.rpm

Now run ‘sm56setup [country code]’. There is no country code specific for India so we shall use the one that comes close to our set up–Hong Kong. See the SM56 man page (man sm56) for a list of valid country codes.

~# sm56setup 852

This will compile the SM56 driver module for the current running kernel and copy it to the kernel module directory, create a symlink /dev/modem pointing to /dev/sm56 and add the following to

alias char-major-24 sm56
options sm56 country=852

Insmod the driver

Do ‘modprobe sm56’ to load the driver
~# modprobe sm56
The output of ‘dmesg’ will show like this:
~# dmesg
Motorola Softmodem: version SM56 Rel. 5.00 Build 85


Test the setup by running a serial communication program like ‘minicom’. Make sure that the communication program uses /dev/modem or /dev/sm56 for the modem port.

~# minicom
Wait for minicom to initialize the modem and give an ‘OK’ prompt. Type ati7 to print out the modem type.
Welcome to minicom 1.83.1
OPTIONS: History Buffer, F-key Macros, Search History Buffer, I18n
Compiled on Feb 23 2001, 07:31:40.
Press CTRL-A Z for help on special keys
AT S7=45 S0=0 L1 V1 X4 &c1 E1 Q0
Motorola SM56 PCI Fax Modem

Once you have verified that the modem is working properly, configure your PPP dialers like rp3 and kppp to use /dev/modem as the modem port.

This is the first release of a Linux driver for the SM56. If you are having trouble, make sure you bug the Motorola SM56 driver team at

For the latest on Win-modems and Linux, see

Shanker Balan is a technology research consultant with Exocore Consulting

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