Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Windows or nothing - I'll take nothing

In a previous post I ranted on about the supply of software for Linux systems. I decided that it is time to moan in style on these pages. I am moaning about companies who are inflexible in their support of Linux, and many companies take a similar attitude towards Apple's Mac OS X. Note this rant and rave is not about support for Linux but the inflexible attitude of some companies towards a different operating system. I have suffered this for years having always run what is a minority operating system because I prefer that OS at the time.

The background, why I run Linux: I used Acorn's RISC OS. I needed some extra disc space and a few more peripherals. RISC OS was expensive to add the latest peripherals to. The best way of getting them was to put in a server and supply them from that. I looked at Windows and Red Hat Linux. Red hat was the cheaper solution, even though I then paid the full Red Hat license. The big plus for Red Hat was the inclusion and support of the various servers I needed. Once I made this move to Red Hat Linux 5.1. Slowly I used it more and more until it replaced RISC OS. Please note that I have nothing against Windows and I do use it on Virtual machine at times, I just prefer Linux.

So what is my problem? I have just changed the ISP supplying my broadband. The new ISP set-up could be done from Windows or Mac OS. In fact it could be done from Linux or any other operating system if only they would tell you how! That is my problem. They do have a small section on how to setup routers other than the one they supply on their web pages, from that you can set up your own router on your Linux system. How do I access this before I get on to broadband? Could they also not include similar instructions on how to set-up the router they provide? Could they not even put these in the box, just in case you are on Linux or some other operating system.

They also warn you that there could be problems if you cannot run their test program if you have problems. They of course only supply this for Windows and Mac OS X. Everyone else takes pot luck. This is the norm in the ISP market. Don't tell me about the Linux friendly ISPs, I am not in their price bracket at present. I have only moved to save money. Besides many ISPs are the same even though they support Linux, they will not help a React OS chap for example.

What I find appalling is that I sit at my bash prompt typing away attempting to configure the router via telnet or ssh. I then look at this router and realise that this CLI stuff is familiar. Is this Linux in another guise, probably. All the Windows fans who would not give Linux a home should throw out their routers. My ISP is willing to send you a Linux box but not support one, strange but true.

Is this a major problem? No. I have yet to be refused support by any ISP just because I run Linux. I have yet to fail to get a router working just because I run Linux. Most ISPs are accommodating. They want your custom. In fact I am very happy with my ISP for giving me what I want at a price I can almost afford. What they don't want to do is just give that little extra help that they could. And it is something I can use to step onto this, my favourite soap box.

What they need to do is give a simple list of technical information. An A5 sheet in the box explaining the required settings would help. They can put a little warning on it that this is only for users of minority systems and not for those willing to let their scripts configure things for them. Most have the information hidden away on their web pages, but you can see the problem with this. I am sat at home with my new ADSL connection, a new router and no instructions to help me. I am sure that the information would also be useful to those Windows and Mac OS users who prefer to do things themselves. We live in the information age, all I want is one small piece of paper.


  1. you have 2 paragraphs that you repeated.
    (looks like a paste accedent) :-)

  2. Thanks for pointing that out. I have corrected it. It appears that I don't deserve my piece of paper.