[Linux-aus] telstra (adsl) broadband and support for linux (or lack thereof)

Tony Nugent tony at linuxworks.com.au
Fri Feb 7 15:05:02 UTC 2003

I've had an ADSL connection with telstra now for two years (heh, for
better or for worse).  My linux router/firewall works just fine with
it, no problems (with stock-standard pppoe).  However, I certainly
can't say the same about the reliability of the side of the link:)

Tesltra's stated (and enforced) policy is that they only give
support for "approved" operating systems.

Needless to say, linux is NOT on their approved OS list... and no
way would I put a (gasp!) windows box up-front on an internet
connection, no way at all!

I'm getting pretty jack of this situation... I ring their support
desk to (politely) inform them that they have (yet another) problem
with their concentrators (routing and authentication problems,
frequent dropouts, timeouts waiting for PADO packets and so on) and
they flatly REFUSE to "esculate" the problem simply because I cannot
give them the exact error message generated by a windows box sitting
behind the adsl modem[1].

  [1]the alcatel modem they initially sold me is a security hazard
  and they know it - but that's another story.

Oh crikey!  I can tell them *exactly* what the problem is at a
technical level - my linux box produces logs that give me the
precise nature of the problem at the LCP level.  But oops, as soon I
mention that I'm using linux, they give me the same old story
("sorry, we don't support that") followed by deafening silence and
immediate inaction.

I admit that in my own situation I am my own linux support, I
personally don't really need them specifically for that.  But I pay
good money for this adsl connection (probably too much), and also
for the support that is supposed to go along with it.  I tell them
that they have a real problem and exactly what it is, but they
choose to ignore me.

I generally tend to laugh this off, but I've just about given up
ringing them because of this stone-walling, which is not good -
neither for them (so that I can "officially" inform them that there
is a problem), nor for me (so that I can confirm that the problem
isn't on my side, which btw has _never_ been the situation).

I'm wondering if others here are also frustrated with the same total
lack of support for linux (from telstra or other ISPs), and if it is
somehow possible to get some lobbying happening at a "higher" level
(L-A would be ideal) to raise awareness of the situation and get
something done about it.  If there is, how to go about it?  I would
certainly volunteer to help in any way I can, but I have no idea
where to start nor what would need to be done to bring about any
effective changes.  If L-A was instrumental in helping to bring
about this sort of change, then it would certainly be a feather in
its cap.

Do other ISPs do the same thing, offer no (or very limited) support
for linux with adsl/broadband?

Perhaps I should change ISPs... any recommendations?  I'd really
like a permanent (or even leased) IP, but I'd have to pay around
five times as much for having that "privilege".  (No, not for public
hosting purposes... that would be abuse of the service).

Is anyone from telstra listening here?  If so, then listen

  Get real telstra... linux is out there, it exists, and it WORKS!
  Lots of people use it, and lots more people will be using it in
  the future.  More and more businesses are and will be using it,
  especially for backend network services (with an increasing uptake
  in desktop environments).

  And I hear strong rumours that internally your own organisation is
  about to widely deploy linux as a cost-effective and stable
  desktop solution to replace that unreliable and expensive
  licence-ridden black-box thing that you are currently using.

  In the end, using linux with adsl/broadband isn't so much of a
  support problem, not at all.  Once adsl is set up and working on a
  linux/unix box (which is relatively trivial to do[2]), it is
  highly stable and requires hardly any on-going maintenance at all.
  It just works.

    [2] and out-of-the-box with no need for extra "add-on" software.

  It would be trivial for you to create some web pages and/or small
  booklet with basic (and advanced) setup instructions, along with
  some hits (and literally thousands of URLs) about setting up
  things like simple but effective (masquerading) firewalls.  (Not
  to mention things like spam/virus email filtering and so on).

  And it would not be so expensive nor short-sighted to train your
  installation crews, and then ensure the 24/24 availability of a
  small number of helpdesk people (and eventually all of them) who
  have the ability to deal with it.  Heck, you'll increase their
  intrinsic value by skilling them in real-world computing!

  In fact, using linux on an adsl connection should be *encouraged*,
  not - as is the current situation - discouraged!

  So what's the big deal telsta, what are you afraid of?  Spending
  pennies?  Heh, *I* may be small-fry, but you'll end up loosing
  lots of clients (big and small) such as myself...

A linux group does exist on telstra's own broadband news site where
I could raise this issue with a more targetted audience, but after
posting to it *once* two years ago, I'm *still* getting spam from
the auto-harvesting that's done with usenet groups!  (I know, I
deliberately used a valid "no-spam" email address to post to it).
Never again will I do that.  At least by using (most?) mailing
lists, I am much more protected from that sort of thing.  But I
digress... :)

So, am I alone with my frustrations?


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