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SubjectRe: ADSL or Cable modem support in Linux, etc..
On Mon, 9 Aug 1999, Mike A. Harris wrote:

> I have been working on convincing my employer to put Linux in at
> the office, as it is IMHO the best solution for numerous things
> for our website.
> They considered an NT proxy server initially, however I have
> convinced them of the virtues of Linux, and have set the machine
> up, and encountered more problems than I'd care to mention with
> the shoddy hardware I received.
> I posted several Oops reports (ksymoops'd) and received no
> response whatsoever from the kernel list. If I'd done something
> wrong, knowing WHAT would have been nice, but....
> Now I've been given new hardware, and will be putting the system
> in as a gateway to the net, as well as our master copy of the
> website, and other things.
> In the near future, we might be getting some high speed net
> access via ADSL or cable modem here, and we'll have it in the
> office.
> What is the support like for ADSL right now? It would make them
> see Linux as bad if it cannot do this with minimal fuss when we
> get the connection, and I want to impress them, and not have them
> see Linux as a toy. So far they are "with" the Linux idea, but
> any little things like this are "bad times 10" if you know what I
> mean.
> Any ADSL/Cable experience anyone has had would be greatly
> appreciated.
> Thanks, TTYL

I've been using ADSL under linux for close to a year now (from home,
actually, although we're getting ready to set up a DSL link to my
on-the-side business as well) and it is great. However, there is very
little that is "linux specific" to worry about with ADSL. Basically, my
connection is to an ethernet port on an ADSL modem. I use a crossover
to hook my primary/gateway home box to the modem. The only "linux"
support required is an absolutely standard ethernet NIC that works with
linux, which is nearly anything these days. I personally am fortunate
in having genuine DEC 21140 "tulip" NICs, but there are lots to choose
from that work just fine.

In my particular case, dhcp is used to setup my eth0 IP configuration.
I'm running RH 6.0, so all I needed to do is tell it to use dhcp for
this interface. With other distributions or a hard IP number and
routing/nameservice information in hand, one could obviously do this by
hand. Note that my ADSL modem has NOTHING ON IT but an on/off switch
and a couple of idiot lights. It is definitely of the "plug it in and
it had better work cause there isn't anything you can do about it if it
doesn't" variety of hardware. In my case, at least, it has worked
flawlessly since the phone guy finished installing it.

Note that I'm actually using my ADSL modem as a gateway connection for
my home network (which is what it sounds like you are trying/tried to
set up in your office). I configured my "internal" interface by hand on
a private network number (192.168.x.x). All my other systems "inside"
my home LAN are 192.168.x.x addresses. I followed the HOWTO for
IP-Masquerading to the letter (adding two ipchains lines to my rc.local
and a few modules to my boot configuration, and setting the gateway on
my internal systems to be my gateway box, basically) and my home network
instantly and transparently could access the Net through my primary ADSL
connection. The Net, however, cannot access these boxes which is just
the way I want it. There are ways of making them accessible but it just
isn't desirable in my context.

I needed NO special kernel support to do this with RH 6.0 -- it was
configured to do IP forwarding out of the box. If you are building your
own kernel you must, of course, configure it appropriately and arrange
for the various modules to be built, but this isn't too difficult. I've
managed an upgrade to 2.2.10, for example.

So I can see no reason to worry about using ADSL under linux -- the two
are near-orthogonal in their setup (or in the case of my ADSL link, at
least, whatever setup is required is out of my control and independent
of the operating system being used to access the net).

I'm sorry about your negative experiences with setting up linux on your
initial box. Really, linux works amazingly well with most hardware
these days, especially if you get one of the better distributions (where
they work pretty hard to hide the hardware from you). If you have any
real problems, however, they can usually only be solved with a lot of
work and expertise, and bad hardware is VERY difficult to identify (is
it my box or my operating system or my configuration or...). Hopefully
with a new box and control over the hardware selections you'll have no
further problems. I certainly have had VERY few problems with linux for
many years now -- it may be that a given device I want to use isn't
supported, but what is supported tends to work acceptably and there is
always SOMEBODY working to add new devices to the supported list.


Robert G. Brown
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567 Fax: 919-660-2525

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