Linux Yes: Net No

I’m starting a new course next term that requires familiarisation with the Linux operating environment, so I bought a box-set of SuSe Linux 9.1 and have installed it onto my computer.

The installation went a lot smoother than expected, and my computer is now dual-boot Windows XP and Linux. However, I can’t access the net at present through Linux, and there’s an odd glitch with the sound.

The net problem is two-fold: a) I have a software modem (CXT SoftK56) which I’m not confident that my Linux has been able to properly detect, but it’s hard to tell about that until b) I find a way to get AOL, my ISP (don’t ask–when we got it, it was the only ISP offering free calls for a fixed monthly fee, and the bill-payer is reluctant to change it), to work in Linux.

I’ve heard rumours that there’s a Linux version of AOL in the pipeline, but I haven’t been able to find it to download and AOL tech support denied its existence when I tried them. The Linspire dialer requires paid-for software. Anybody managed to get around this using Linux?
The solution to my other early problem is probably really simple, in which case I apologise. Every time I boot up Linux, my sound card doesn’t work. I have to go into YAST (the setup tool) each time, and go into the sound section and click on the sound card. Then it works, playing my mp3s and such-like, until the end of the session. But it doesn’t ‘remember to work like before’ next time I start up the OS.
Thanks for any help.

Linux Newbie bc

Well, my only solutions are gonna cost.

Software modems suck. When I was using Linux on dial-up, I used a Lucent Technologies 56k internal call-waiting modem. The good things about it: It was faster than any software modem I’d used, and it actually had instructions for installing under Linux in the box. And if you have call waiting, an incoming call will make the modem ring so you can disconnect and take the call.

And if it’s at all possible, get away from AOL.