Sorry about the meandering documentation, but I figure I should do it here for all to see and also better to help me remember what I've done.
OK, now that I have a connection it's time to check and fix permissions to give users access to wvdial and qtwvdialer which are installed into /usr/bin.
Now to check throughput. Several websites register 8000 kb/s ! Wow that is slow. this rates on a 14k modem level.
OK, throw my knoppix disk in, fire up kppp... wow again. this time it's 38000 kb/s. This rates at least in the neighborhood of a 56k modem....much better. Well, the difference seems to be that kppp populates the dialout command with ATDT while wvdial DOES NOT.
Back to VL5.8 and wvdial> reconfigure modem with dial command as ATDT -> voila! 38000kb/s.
Well, closer to my goal! My gut feeling is that kppp (which I have used successfully in the past at speeds up to 47000 kb/s) does more autoconfiguration such as using setserial to make sure the ports are available, assign rights to the user, and populates the modem commands correctly, while xisp, chestnut, and wvdial either require editing of config files or just do not do a proper job of translating information in the frontend (GUI) to the dialer configuration files.
I am puzzled as to why permissions are so strict. Also, none of the error messagaes in any of the three dialers gives a clue as to why the "devices or resources were busy". When new to modems, this can mislead the new user into thinking there are IRQ issues when in reality, I believe this journey was mostly a permissions problem. The error messages could have read ---> "you do not have sufficient permissions to access this resource". The latter sentence requires five more words but would have saved me five hours of time.
Hopefully VL developers could consider the use of kppp as it has always served me well and appears to use setserial, populates the modem commands config files more accurately, adjusts permissions more accurately and the GUI seems to have a more user friendly layout. Are there any kppp builds for VL that anyone knows about?
Although I use broadband myself, this puts VL on the map now as a viable solution to donating PCs with very low resources.
I have written a howto for wvdial on VL 5.8 here-> http://www.vectorlinux.com/forum2/index.php?topic=3671.0
Hope this helps any dial-up users out there.