I am writing this from Vellore, on my father's HP laptop (which unfortunately runs M$ Windows) connected to the net with a reliance PCMCIA data card, ZTE 315.
No, I am not using M$ Windows to connect to the net. I installed Debian Etch on a free partition and followed the procedure described here and it worked very well!
There was a problem with the Debian installation - I was unable to get grub installed - but LILO worked fine.
Father can't use GNU/Linux because a site which is crucial for his stock market work doesn't load properly on Firefox; have to find out why.