I know this is a few months old, but this information could be helpful to others even if you have resolved the issue.
I agree, it is not easy to get this going if you have no command line experience, but it can be done. There are probably graphical interfaces that can help you do it, but without knowing what distribution you are running, it is hard to give specific advice.
As far as how to tell if the modem is recognizsed, there are a few levels to that:
1. is the modem recognized at all when you mount it?
2. is it attached to the right driver?
3. can your dialup software connect to the modem?
To see if the modem is seen at all, run a simple command, lsusb. You should see it listed.
The other questions, maybe others can help provide details.
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