not to be weird, but to break it down pretty easy:

1) AOL is a pain to use with linux, you're almost better off just getting a local internet account. Local ISP's almost always will support linux, because they are usually using linux themselves.

2) your modem. USRobotics and a few other companies make what is called a controller based modem. Basically, it still fits in a PCI slot, but it's enormous compared to a winmodem. (If someone else explained this already, my apologies) Basically a winmodem uses your processor to handle most of it's dirty work, it just serves as a phone jack. A Controller based modem actually thinks for itself, and thus doesn't require any special software (read: Windows) to be used. It works the same way as an external modem does, but sits happily inside your box. >>>>My actual recommendation - go to your local used computer shop and get someone's old ghetto external (pawn shops are also great for this) you'll pay like 5 bucks for it, and you can easily move it to another box if you want to dial up on another machine.