FreeBSD challenged by Internet

perryh at perryh at
Mon Jan 22 08:50:13 UTC 2007

> > > What I don't get is I see guys walking in
> > > dropping $1000 on associated Mac hardware crap
> > The most expensive system around here is a Mac Sawtooth that cost
> > $225 -- including a 17" monitor -- last September.  The (Dell)
> > FreeBSD box I'm using at the moment cost $10 at a flea market,
> This is a totally unfair comparison.  They guy dropping $1K on a
> Mac is walking out with a machine that is fully configured and
> ready to run.

As was the Sawtooth.

> When you get an old clunker by the time you tally up the time you
> have spent on getting it ready to run, your at the same amount.
> Skilled UNIX tech time is at min $95 an hour.  Your talking a
> min of 4 hours to get a Goodwill find up and going on FreeBSD
> by the time you work out the quirks, assuming that the ram in it
> doesen't have a flaw and the disk is good, if you have to replace
> that stuff you count the hours it takes to drive to Fry's and
> back, buy the disk, etc..  well your getting pretty close to that
> $1K in my book.

It took me *zero* more time to get this box (Dell #1) ready for
FreeBSD than if it had come direct from Dell with Windoze preloaded.
Yes, the hard drive did fail after a while, but that is not unheard
of with brand new boxes either.  I'm not convinced that a trip to
Fry's for a new drive takes any longer than packing up a dead drive
and taking it to the post office to ship back for warranty replacement.

> In any case I was really speaking about the delta in a more
> general sense.  I see a lot of folks going to comcast - who
> as I understand their pricing, for Internet service only over
> comcast, you pay more too.

You really shouldn't have given me an excuse to bash Comcast :)

They claim they are faster, but since I seldom see anywhere near
rated speed on DSL I don't think the DSL line is the limiting factor.
Given that, I would not expect cable to be any faster *in practice*
than DSL.  When I tried to explain this to the door-to-door droid
who was trying to sell me Comcast a while back, it was completely
beyond his comprehension.  I don't care for their TOS either -- as
I understand it, I can't even leave an SSH port open to enable me
to log in from the office because that would be considered "running
a server".

> The real point is how much do you value something?  Are you
> going to say that PPP-only DSL service from an ISP (
> that does not give you a static IP number, and has a support desk
> that is based in India and only speaks Windowease (and does a poor
> job of that) is worth the same as all-the-time-on fully bridged
> DSL service with a static IP and no goofy MTU size restrictions
> and is supported by the same people that built the system and
> who run Windows, FreeBSD and Linux both on their desktops and
> servers?

I could get a static IP from Verizon if I wanted to pay extra for
it, but so far I haven't seen the need; my Netgear* firewall gets
its IP address etc. via DHCP AFAIK.  As to PPP vs bridged, that is
taken care of somehow between some Verizon server and the firewall.
I only know that I haven't had to program any username or password
into the firewall, which I think would have been needed for PPP.

* Keeping this marginally on-topic, I was originally using a
  GNATbox, which is based on FreeBSD.  I switched to the Netgear
  after the GNATbox couldn't handle a Verizon "system upgrade" a
  while back.

Anyway, I'm comparing the wire charges, not the ISP service.  The
DSL modem, pair to the CO, and whatever transport from there to the
ISP are presumably the same in either case; if anything connecting
to a local ISP should be cheaper than having to send the bits all
the way to Verizon Online on the east coast.  Yet -- as of when
I looked into it -- Verizon was charging something like $5 or $10
*more* for the wire connection to a 3rd party ISP than for the
equivalent connection to Verizon Online, and effectively throwing
in the ISP "service" for free.

> ... 40 years ago you went to the grocery store and bought
> bread and all they had was Wonder air bread.  You went to the
> bar and bought a beer and all they had was Bud.  Restaurants
> either came in Burger, Steak, or American Menu ...

I have been around long enough to have had personal experience with
40 years ago, and I can assure you that, at least in central Iowa,
the food situation was a whole lot better than that.  I can't speak
to the beer, for which I was underage, although not by a lot :)

> Today, you go to the grocery store and sure you can still get the
> air-bread.  But for more money you can get bread that tastes far,
> far better, and was baked locally.

I don't think local is relevant to your argument.  Franz' version
of what you call air-bread is baked in Portland.

> You go to the bar and sure
> you can still get the cheap Bud that was peed out of some horse
> back in the Midwest and carried in 1000 gallon tank trucks,
> or you can pay more money and get the better tasting microbrewed
> stuff that someone brewed in small batches right there ... Lots
> of people would rather pay more for the better tasting coffee at
> Starbucks than the cheap stuff out of the office vending machine.

Or you can skip the coffee and beer altogether.  Yecch!

> Why is it OK for the food industry to be like this, and it's not
> OK for the Internet Service industry to be like this?  It seems
> like everyone only wants Internet Service to be as cheap as
> possible and couldn't give a damn about quality.

I don't need much from an ISP beyond connectivity, bandwidth,
an IP address, and access to a nameserver; why should I pay for
services I'm not going to use?  (I have *never* logged on to
Verizon -- I think they sent me an ID and password, but I have
no clue what they are for; I've never needed to use them :)
I *do* want it to work properly, which has been a lot less of
an issue recently than it used to be; and when it quits working,
esp. when nothing has changed on my end, I'd like to be able to
reach someone who has a clue.

> > > Basically IMHO the Verizon pricing program was designed to
> > > push the really tiny independents, ie: the guys that might
> > > have a grand total of 5 or 10 Verizon DSL customers, off of
> > > their network.
> >
> > That would have violated at least the intent, if not the letter,
> > of the antitrust laws.
> Actually, no.  Here's the problem.  Have you ever wondered why
> the telephone companies over the last 10 years have all stopped
> referring to themselves as "telephone" companies and started
> referring to themselves as "communications companies"?
> The reason is that they successfully convinced the FCC that an ISP
> can be nothing more than services offered by the telephone company.
> (or cable or dish, company)

If they were an FCC-regulated "common carrier" they would have certain
equal-access obligations.  Having successfully argued that Internet
service should *not* be so regulated, they lose the common carrier's
exemption from the antitrust laws.  They should not be able to have
it both ways.

> So, in most areas you have a telephone company that offers DSL,
> and a cable company that offers cable Internet.  So according to
> the FCC, there -is- competition because there are 2 separate ISPs
> there.  One ISP is owned by the telephone company and the other
> is owned by the cable company.

Last I heard*, the prohibition on anticompetitive practices extends
to anyone having "market power", generally defined as over roughly
1/3 of a market.  As applied to the market in broadband residential
Internet service, in the part of the Portland metro area where
Verizon is authorized to provide local wired telephone service,
the only way for the piece of Verizon that provides the actual DSL
connection (not the ISP part) to *not* have market power would be
for Comcast plus Dish to have something like 70% of it.  I very
much doubt that this has ever been the case.

The real problem is that the authorities have not been enforcing the
antitrust laws.  No surprise, they didn't meaningfully enforce them
against Micro$oft either.

* from the legal department of a former employer, large enough
  in its industry to consider it worthwhile to brief engineering
  employees on antitrust law so as to forestall violations that
  might otherwise arise through ignorance

> Dialup is the gateway drug to DSL but by definition the only
> people out there seeking dialup, are the bottom feeders (people
> who won't pay a penny more than the absolute minum) and as
> a result would never countenence paying the extra money for
> broadband.  Verizon is leaving it to the independent ISP's
> to deal with this crowd.

Well I am a "bottom feeder" as far as DSL is concerned, but also a
very early adopter; and I have never had dialup IP.  (I have had
email for over a decade, and it still runs over UUCP.  It ain't

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