Linux and ISPs

Forum: Site News
Topic: Linux and ISPs
started by: John

Posted by John on Jan. 14 2005,05:20
I am putting together a guide about major and minor ISPs and how Linux friendly or unfriendly they are.  I'd like to leverage your first hand experiences while dealing with your ISPs.  Also, on the tech side, what hoops did you have to go through to get online?

Do you have any horror stories?  Or, have you ever been told "Sorry, we do not support your platform"?  Or, maybe you have had a very positive experience.  

Good or bad, please email me with your tale.  
john _at_


Posted by mikshaw on Jan. 14 2005,05:35
Email?  Whazzat?
I refuse to email answers to questions posted on a messageboard :)

The only experiences I've had in Linux were 2 local dialups and one DSL.  The dialups were identical to my experience with them in windows...semi-unreliable, but they worked okay most of the time.

DSL was through SBC Yahoo.  I was frightened at first when I received their software package because I envisioned an AOL world where I had to run their Windows software and browser just to connect to the net.  After some nagging I got the technician to admit that I didn't need their software as long as I had some sort of pppoe installed, so I went with roaring penguin and it was problems other than an occasional server-side trouble.

Posted by John on Jan. 14 2005,06:18
If you want to post here it is okay, but expect it to be referenced to in something a bit more organized than a thread in a forum.  If you have something a large please email it to me too.

mikshaw, how did you get your user and password info?  Did they provide it over the phone?

Posted by mpie on Jan. 14 2005,11:15
ntl in the uk state access is unsupported buy if the modem is connected via ethernet then dhcp picks it up perfectly, although they need a lesson is c/s>>>>>>>>
its taken them 5 months to repair the cable under my house!!!!

Posted by mikshaw on Jan. 14 2005,14:43
Quote (John @ Jan. 14 2005,01:18)
mikshaw, how did you get your user and password info?  Did they provide it over the phone?


If I remember correctly, though, they have a place oline to change the password once your account has been created.

Posted by John on Jan. 16 2005,08:04
I am interested in ISPs in all countries, not just the US and the UK.  So,. please share with us your experiences no matter where you are.  Also, my depth of US, Canada and UK data is quite low. Any Road Runner, or Comcast folks out there?  Earthlink?  Any mom and pop ISPs out there which are Linux friendly?
Posted by SaidinUnleashed on Jan. 16 2005,14:39
I used Acer-access ( for a while. They were very linux friendly.

I just used the ppp dialer in DSL.

I now use East Texas Ruralnet ( Their wireless broadband is just plugs into a router/firewall, so it's very linux friendly as well.

Never used their dialup services though.


Posted by ke4nt1 on Jan. 16 2005,21:26
I use SBC/yahoo - adsl ..

They are NOT linux friendly with support.
In fact, if you do not have a windows machine currently connected
DIRECTLY to their provided modem, you won't get far at all with tech support.

Using it in Linux/DSL is very easy, though.
Reconfigure the modem as a pass-thru to your router/gateway/firewall,
and setup for pppoe login, and your all set.

I did have to call to setup my INITIAL login account..
After that , everything is done via sbcyahoo online.


Posted by green on Jan. 16 2005,22:50
I use Road Runner broad band cable.

They don't support Linux, per say. But that is if you want to install their software package which I've never done...even on windows.

I can still access email via pop or smtp just like any other email.

As long as your box will accept an IP via the modem or router/firewall or firewall (smoothwall in my case) there are not issues and it's really fast with 3MB down and 483k up.

Posted by clacker on Jan. 16 2005,22:51
pppoe to make SBC work, I'll be damned (small linux).  I thought I had to get the modem working with windows first, then shut down and restart in dsl without turning the modem off.  The things you learn from these forums...

I also used a ppp connection, which was easy once I got the method (again from a forum post).  The Mom and Pop ISP I had sold out to CShore.  I really haven't had many dealings with them, but as long as the user names and passwords are OK, there's no problem.  The Mom and Pop was super Linux friendly as they had linux machines themselves.

Posted by Del on Jan. 17 2005,00:19
I use Verizon DSL and it just plain works, the magic (?) of DHCP. Whether I've plugged the modem directly into a PC's NIC, or (the usual) modem to router to all PC's (router has built in switch), it just works. I have plugged the modem into a switch (no router) and all PC's into the switch, and all PC's get their own IP automatically, no fuss, no muss. They did supply me with a username and password, but so far I've only had to use it to access my verizon web-mail and account info. It's worked on every windows and Linux distro I've thrown at it.

As far as support goes, it's like ke4nt1 mentioned. They won't acknowledge the existence of anything but Windows, and get huffy if it's not XP. They want the modem plugged straight to the PC, and they're even picky about the PC being plugged straight into the wall, not a power bar. Fortunately, the only two times my dsl has really gone down it was totally their fault, off site even. Haven't yet had a tech come to the house to repair, it's always in the box up the street :)

Posted by roadie on Jan. 17 2005,03:44
Here in Canada, I've dealt with dial-up, cable and now wireless ISP's.
I've never had a problem connecting with Linux but it's all a self help deal, I have yet to talk to an ISP besides my wireless ISP that would acknowledge the existence of any system except Windows.

My wireless provider was at least willing to help any way they could, but have no real experience with using Linux and wireless.
I use a Power over Ethernet panel, no drivers needed, just a standard ethernet card, works great.


Posted by jshaw on Jan. 18 2005,06:03
I started using DSL with an apartmnet provided Cable Connection through their DHCP enabled router, and I had better luck with DSL than Windows.  When the connection was down, which was often, I used SBC Yahoo Dial-Up, which was painless.  Now I use SBC Yahoo ADSL, and after setting up the home portal I booted into DSL and DHCP picked up the connection and I have no troubles. I can even admin the Home Portal through FireFox in DSL. Painless.
Posted by Delboy on Jan. 18 2005,13:28
My bog standard laptop arrangement which has worked without any tweaking or messing around in the UK:-  Squaremail ISP dialup using external 'serial' modem thru' the serial port on my laptop.  (This seems to work a bit faster than than my cheap internal modem that came with my PC. box under Win98)
Posted by DonttPanic on Jan. 19 2005,02:03
I'm in New York, and use Optimum Online. It works just fine. My only problem was the fact that I first tried connecting with a network hub instead of a router because I didn't know there was a difference. I figured it would work because it had a bunch of places to plug in. Silly me.
Posted by rossjman1 on Jan. 24 2005,23:47
I have Comcast cable on Windows, and I didnt have to install anything (except for the ethernet drivers). It works great in DSL too, although it was initially set up in Windows.
Posted by neo_trio on Jan. 30 2005,23:06
I use Verizon Online DSL... it works! :laugh:
AOL... don't even *censored* go there.

AOL commercial with a twist...
AOL Customer Service reps are the biggest bunch of shit-eating, monkey-ing motherers. Every single one of them.

Posted by ryptyde on Feb. 05 2005,01:26
Just recently (today) started with a new ISP on dial-up.I filled out a request form that obliged me to choose a username and psswrd.Was given a CD-R "Internet Software for Windows and Macintosh" and was told to just "put it in your computer and follow the on-screen prompts".

The install disc said "Installs Microsoft Internet Explorer and includes Netscape Navigator".Didn't use the install disc and used kppp on my FC3 box using my username,psswrd and dial-in # and everything worked.

I did ask about "Linux support" and was given a partially cross-eyed head-cocked quizzical look.

Posted by geo on Feb. 24 2005,23:53
Rutgers Resnet (School residential isp). They switched to DHCP this year, so all I had to do is deregister my iBook (which was getting sent to repair) and reregister with my pc tower (Thru their website). Once up it stayed up for 2 hours. Left dsl on for 4 hours while I went to class, came back, no incoming traffic (Other then the rutgers resnet site). No pings returned. I gave up, went to sleep, next boot it was working again. Maybe cause I left dsl on for four hours completely idle with no in or out traffic? Running .9.3 (latest) with no extensions when it happened (First run of dsl). Maybe John can test it. Or maybe its just my card/comp. Anyway, now that I got my Mac back, I ifconfig the MAC address of my pc to be the same as my iBooks so that i can use either one on the network.
Posted by GUEST on Mar. 05 2005,03:44
Actually the 2Wire portals (Switch/Firewall/Modem) that SBC uses have a feature called Greenlight.  The portal can register you and set up your user name/password on the DSL line without any software at all.

The SBC Guide that they are shipping now does not mention anything about the routers features but rather just includes a CD (Windows CD).  It refferences a section F of the install guide which isn't there.  You can setup the 2Wire Portal though by pointing your browser to and set up directly from the router. You of course need to set the computer ethernet card to  use DHCP prior to plugging in.

The SBC Tech support and Customer Service is the pits though. Prior to using SBC DSL I was sharing a dial-up first through Hawk Communications/JOI internet using ICS with a Windows box as the gateway for two linux machines.  Hawk canceled the dial-up account, becuse I overused my unlimited Internet access, then I switched to Netscape ( A real Headache).  Hawk Communications used to support Linux but have officially dropped Linux support, along with canceling people who take unlimited internet access to mean unlimited (48-90+ hrs connected a week).  I have never been able to get the stupid WinModems that everyone seems to want to sell nowdays to work in Linux... so I have just used ICS (Its been a Windows Feature since Win 98SE although MS claims it's new to XP) and ethernet  to connect linux computers to the internet.

 Anyhow with ICS enabled, the supplied SBC Software/Windows can not connect to the 2Wire portal.  Also if you have a el-cheapo router such as one from Blitzz, the Defualt IP Address for it and the 2Wire Portal are the same and well you have to change one or the other.  The SBC Support tech claimed it was a Virus or Spyware and was adamant about that causing the SBC supplied software to not work.  The Defualt address BTW for these routers is (SBC tech support folk are idiots for not even asking if another router was on the newtwork and even bigger Idiots for not telling people the defualt IP Address of the router/firewall/modem/wireless point IP Address and including documentation on how to use it).  I suppose what shocks me the most about SBC is that they are having you use a Modem/Switch with a much better Firewall than what Yahoo gives you. Why would you need another Firewall if one is at the Modem and built into the OS?

If you want to place an el-cheapo router between the SBC 2Wire router, such as the Blitzz router/wireless base/firewall, you need to change the Blitzz router IP address from to something else such as  The same goes if you are using a combination of homeplug and el-cheapo routers to eliminate dead spots in your home (Change all the  el-cheapo wireless IP router addresses).  

Anyhow if anyone wants the info on how to use ICS (Wants to plug a second or third Linux computer into small windows network using a switch to share an internet connection) this is how it is done;

RIght click on the the internet connection in Windows.  Tab over to advanced.  Click the share this connection with others on network box and if you have more than one Ethernet connections drop down which connection the home network is on. Windows will then assign the ethernet card you choose to share with as  The Subnet is set to .  You will now need to manually set every other computers IP address on the network.  Set the IP address as (That means you start with 2 for the first computer, then  3, 4, all the way until you run out of computers on the network ), the broadcast address(Damn Small aks as does Knoppix but RH does not) should be set the same as your IP address,  The Gateway should be set as the DNS server is  

If you are using Netscape and want to use ICS - Go ahead and Install the Netscape software connect it once to the intternet.  Then go into Network connections, delete the dial-up for Netscape and create a new one (Make up numbers it won't matter) but call it Netscape.  Enable ICS(And the WIndows Firewall if you want it).  Then use the Netscape provided dialer to connect/dial and Netscape internet service will take over the dialer you created and lock it down (You won't be able to adjust the settings anymore but ICS will be enabled on it).  Netscape is not Linux friendly at all.  In fact Netscape isn't even really very WIndows Friendly as it is very much like AOL in the fact that you have to use their special dialer.

Posted by Shifty on Mar. 08 2005,01:36
I use Cogeco cable (in canada) and they are not friendly at all. They don't support anything other than plugging the modem into the computer. No router support, no macintosh support, and certainly no *nix support.
Posted by WoofyDugfock on Mar. 16 2005,15:01
My candidate for a local privately-owned ISP in Europe [name withheld because they're probably owned by the Mafia] nearly freaked when I asked if they blocked ports, to which they replied (paraphrasing) 'as many as possible because it stops customers getting viruses and things'.  When I replied that I would be running linux most of the time and hence would not be quite so vulnerable as WinPersons to viruses and spyware, that I definitely wanted filesharing and to be able to act as a server, and suggested that they might just **** well open a specific port for me if I requested same ... you can imagine the look I got. The requested service was not forthcoming and so I have given them a miss to date.
Posted by noordinaryspider on Mar. 16 2005,21:53
No problems with Joi dial-up yet.

Yea, I know, but I had MSN 5.4 preinstalled on what is now my DSL box  back in 2001 and you know how that goes; MSN 8 was preinstalled on everything new I acquired and I'd heard some horror stories about getting the software off; fear makes you do things that look pretty stupid in retrospect.

Anywho, I refuse to put any more ISP software on my windoze machines and I'm frequently online downloading stuff for over eight hours a day. I chose Joi over other no-software-required dial-up ISPs because it has instructions for dialing out with Red Hat on the site, but I have taken the warning about "unlimited" not really being unlimited to heart, so we shall see what we shall see.

My Mandrake machine dials out just fine through KPPP now that I've got the linux drivers for the software modem.

Posted by MrBear37 on Mar. 17 2005,18:21
I use Earthlink dial up at home ( will be switching to broadband shortly).  

Earthlink has been great.  they have no linux support.  Their basic philosophy is that they will provide the network information the rest is up to you.  I have been using their dial up service for a number of years I believe that on 2 occasions I had to go and change/update an IP address as they have some type of plan to rotate them every few months..
The service has been great.  I would suggest that if you do have to call them, that if you need anyone with half a brain, then you choose the phone options for MAC support instead of Wind-ers support as that is where they seem to relegate their people with any semblence of knowledge.


Posted by simonbael on Mar. 22 2005,07:08
I had used earthlink for a few years. When I set up my first linux box...mandrake 6 I think, I called up for support, they had no clue. About three years ago I moved over to RedHat and had no issues what so ever. I have since moved to Charter Cable here in Oregon. When I came home they had already set up the modem, to my horror, on my girlfriends winbox with their software as the main comp. They gave us the username and password right there.
I asked about linux support, they said I might be able to talk to someone who knew about linux, but it was not covered by tech support. As soon as they left, I ripped the set up appart, set my mandrake 10 box up as king of the network and it was flawless. It saw the connection and assigned what was needed.
On a strange note, my girlfriends computer could not get a connection through the network to the outside, I beat my head against a wall until it dawned on me; it was the charter software. My neighbor was having the same prob. I just uninstalled their garbage and all was well. As for tech support, I have never had to call. DSL finds the connection just fine as well.    simon

Posted by clivesay on Mar. 26 2005,01:35
Just tried It's a nationwide ISP that I am looking at for people I am giving PC's to since it is only $9.95/month. The nice thing, too, is that they will pay my organization $15 for each referral! I told them I was using Linux and they were nice enough to give me a test account to try connecting since they did not support Linux.

After some major frustration I did get it going. You basically had to follow the Mac instructions. You have to use CHAP and enter your DNS servers. Once I figured that out, I was on the net!


Posted by noordinaryspider on April 24 2005,16:07
Update: Joi is not offering dial-up as of May 20 so I will be switching to NicRevival (perfect timing, John) and saving $2 every month over what I used to pay and about $12 a month over the Earthlink they would automatically switch me over to. which may not even be doable once my networking skills improve enough for this to be a Micro$oft™-free household.


Posted by ShaneRay on July 01 2005,13:36
I only saw one post concerning Canada, so I thought I'd throw in mine.

When I had cable from Rogers ( --They own the Bluejays for you baseball fans).  I never had any problems. As a newbie to linux, I installed Suse and was the internet shortly with a USB cable Modem.  If I remember correctly, I had to do some small changes to the configuration.  But, a newbie did it so I'd say it "just works".  I don't believe they offer official linux support.  I wish I still had it--within the last 6 months or so they brought in a 5MB tier that screams from what I've heard.

I am now on dial-up through the Sympatico service (nationwide, available through provincial phone companies and directly through Bell in some provinces).  I had no problem connecting on my old laptop and a PCMCIA modem.  Again, they don't offer official linux support.  But, sign up is easy and they don't force any software on you.  They have it, but the reps have learned that enough people know that all they need are the account details to use their existing software.

I was with NetZero for a while.  When I signed up I didn't realize they had their own dialer.  I never looked to see if there was a linux version someone had come up with.  However, when I called to cancel the rep asked me why.  I stated no linux support and she asked what type of modem that was...LMAO.

Posted by noordinaryspider on July 01 2005,16:02
Update on NIC Revival:

I'm extremely satisfied. "Unlimited" must mean unlimited or I would know it by now, since I've downloaded two files in excess of 600MB so far (they take a week and a half or more of being connected in excess of ten hours a day) and numerous large audio and video files.

They promised me five hours of uninterrupted connection at a time and they deliver on it; I can't recall ever getting disconnected prematurely.

I'm in a rural area (US) and have never had to use an alternate access number, much less wait to connect.

The speed seems okay.

I've had my customer service questions answered promptly by email. I like the fact that I prepay for my service and don't need to keep track of automatic charges on my credit card. It is also possible to pay with a check or money order if you cannot or choose not to pay with a credit card.

I share the connection with a smoothwall among five desktops and will be adding a laptop shortly. I am not interested in supporting large for-profit corporations so I will not be switching to broadband until/unless it is possible for me to get service through a community ISP or something similar to NIC Revival. I'm still not Micro$oft free, but at least I don't need windows to connect to the internet any more.


It sure feels good to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.

Posted by kangaroo killa on July 08 2005,14:23
Austarnet (Australia) Didnt even know what mandrake linux was... switched to ubuntu linux they didnt know what it was. Ran pppconfig in terminal configured my ext modem. and off on the net i was. This is a dialup only ISP. switching to ADSL from telstra in 2 weeks :p
Posted by MethodOne on July 28 2005,04:43
When I tried using Road Runner cable with < LLGP > (a Knoppix remaster) on a friend's computer, no setup was required.  Looks like I'll try DSL (the Linux distro) on one of my computers if I get Road Runner.  I'm currently using < Milwaukee PC > dial-up, which requires no software and works very well with Linux.  They don't care if I leave my connection on for 48 hours or more.
Posted by diddleflop on July 14 2006,01:31
I signed up with Sprint ( now EMBARQ ??), my local phone company, for a DSL account.  Actually the account ended up being with Earthlink which initially worried me.  So far the account has been pretty trouble free.  Direct connection to the router with Cat5 is fine.   I am having trouble with the 2wire 802.11g usb wireless adapter.  Earthlink actually has a desktop icon on the Simply Mepis Distro, claiming LINUX support.  I haven't put them to the test yet.
Posted by kerry on July 14 2006,05:23
I used to use verizon, which is a excellent isp, but they went and sold out here in hawaii to hawaiin tel. Now they made the full switch a couple of weeks ago and i did have some problems at the start. I had to make many of calls and was on hold for hour's at a time. Finally everything is getting back to normal for me and hawaiin tel was very good, even knowing that i use linux.
Posted by 300c_pilot on July 14 2006,07:40
CableOne and Qwest up here do not support Linux. Anything more then your username and password they are clueless. I how ever have setup a dialup isp for a client via linux. Granted it was only 2 modems, but it works fine and the price was right. :)
Posted by newby on July 16 2006,00:40
Quote (John @ Jan. 14 2005,00:20)
I am putting together a guide about major and minor ISPs and how Linux friendly or unfriendly they are. ...

Or, have you ever been told "Sorry, we do not support your platform"?  ...

Good or bad, please email me with your tale.  
john _at_



An excellent idea! - "We don't know Sylpheed"


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