31 Aug 2000 davidm   » (Master)

Finally have something to say....

Couple of weeks ago AT&T Cable (in SF,CA) insisted that I try their cable modem for free for 2 months. It seems that they (AT&T) finally had pulled fiber in San Francisco Potrero Hill area. Funny I can barely get them to answer the phone when my cable TV service is not working but for this they turned up at my door on a Sunday afternoon.

I explained to the gent that I ran Linux servers and I was fairly sure that AT&T did not want me as a customer on their cable modem system. No use, he insisted so I filled out the form. (I really did not need a cable modem as I already have 384x384 DSL but hey for free why not.)

I filled out the form and I told the truth, I have 5 servers running Linux, 2 LapTops all behind a Linux Firewall doing NAT. Somehow I thought this would be the end of it, with what I put on the form I never expected a call back from AT&T.

Suprise, Suprise, Wednesday 3 days later in the evening I get a call back. Yep, you guessed it AT&T indeed wants me as a customer! Once again I go over what is installed in my house and again they insist they want to install the service. Make a long story short we set an install date.

One week, 2 days later at 11:30 AM a small fleet of installers show up at my house (ok, ok so it was only 3 AT&T trucks, but how many people does it take to install a 1 pound cable modem, especially since I already have cable tv).

Now the fun begins, I get a call from the babysitter at my house and I head home. The head installer goes into my house and the babysitter shows him where the cable modem is to be installed, he takes a single look and freaks......

Just about then I show up and meet him as he is talking to the rest of the installers. He is saying something like "You should see all the stuff in there, they have servers and they are using something called Linux not Windows".

Right about this time I walk up and ask how long this is going to take, and he says "You are running servers and Linux, there is no way I am going to install a cable modem it is against company policy". I explained to him that I had already gone through this with 2 different people from AT&T and I indeed expected him to install what AT&T promised.

Long story short, he refused, I called the AT&T office where I was assured that AT&T indeed wanted to install the service, and they would contact the installer and send him back to finish the install. The nice folks at the AT&T customer service ask me if I would be kind enough to hold on while they contacted the installer and resolved the problem.

A couple of minutes later he is back, "Is the installer still in front of your house?" he asks? "The dispatcher can't seem to reach him" I look out the window and see the truck but no installer. I take my portable phone and go out to the truck. I explain to the gent on the phone that the truck is parked and empty no installer in sight, He ask's "Would you mind leaving him a note to call his dispatcher when he gets back?". So I do, and leave to go back to work.

Couple of hours later the lady in charge of installs calls me up to let me know she is sending out a different installer to do the job. She explains that since I don't use Windows I'll have to complete the install myself, they will put the modem in but not hook it to a PC. I tokd her I understood and in fact did not want anyone touching my systems.

Hour and a half later another call, the deed is done I have a cable modem. The installer she sent is back at her desk and she wants to know if I want to talk to him. I chat with the installer and we talk about the setup I have and the 2mbit wireless installed throughout the house for the Laptops. (This installer thinks this is way cool and wants to know more, so he is going to come over on a weekend for more info.)

Fun, fun, fun, even when they try to make it easy it still becomes hard. Of course now I have to hook up the cable modem to my firewall.....

Pull the firewall system out of the rack and dig around, woops only 3 PCI slots and I have them all in use, 2 Ethernet and 1 VGA, now where did I put those old ISA VGA cards?

Found an old VGA and another PCI Ethernet, installed same and put the system back in the rack. Power it up and it sits there and beeps at me. Is nothing EVER easy? Back out of the rack, open it up, reseat and wiggle all of the cards and apply power, ah finally it boots. Shut it down AGAIN and put the lid back on and back in the rack one more time. Power up and it works, yea. Now I have to figure out which Ethernet card is which interface now. Bit of testing and all is happy.

Firewall is running again, NAT in place. Now for the fun get a dhcp address from the cable modem. Actually this turned out to be easy dhcpcd is your friend. 'dhcpcd -h "id provided by AT&T" eth2' and I got an address and all is happy.

You have to use a current enough version of dhcpcd so that it supports the -h option cause the AT&T dhcp server will not give you an address if you don't supply the ID it is expecting.

Ok, now for some testing, the cable modem rocks. It is REALLY fast downloading, here are some numbers downloading from kernel.org

22:23:36 (348.89 KB/s) - saved [22464295] cable
22:26:13 (336.38 KB/s) - saved [22464295] cable
22:31:12 (344.70 KB/s) - saved [22464295] cable
22:35:10 (318.34 KB/s) - saved [22464295] cable
22:37:59 (329.86 KB/s) - saved [22464295] cable
22:48:30 ( 39.13 KB/s) - saved [22464295] sdsl
22:59:43 ( 39.04 KB/s) - saved [22464295] sdsl

Big difference, I have not tested an upload but I expect that the SDSL will beat the cable but who knows.

Next time more about installing the 11mBit wireless so that my wife and I can share the connection from anywhere in the house (or back yard). Linux makes it easy to configure Lucent cards but W2K is a bit harder to get the correct tools.

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