FreeBSD challenged by Internet

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at
Tue Jan 23 11:09:49 UTC 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <perryh at>
To: <tedm at>
Cc: <freebsd-questions at>
Sent: Monday, January 22, 2007 12:24 AM
Subject: Re: FreeBSD challenged by Internet

> > > > 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.

Hmm - "Mac Sawtooth" to me is a circa 1999 Power Mac G4.  I think
we are talking about something different since you couldn't possibly be
just buying used devices and -not- nuking and repaving.. or could you?

> > 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.

Not fair - you aren't including the time spent "preloading" FreeBSD.
The entire point is of the labor to get it to where you can start the
userland configuration.  Not to get it to where you can insert the
operating system install CD and boot it.  When you buy them new,
the windows is already loaded and ready to start the userland
configuration (which in my experience mainly consists of uninstalling
all the trialware and crap on them)

Granted, you might have FBSD installs down pat and get a machine
where you can just insert the CD, and 2 hours later your ready to
start userland config.   But, you had to spend time LEARNING HOW
to do this, and typical L-user (Low level user) who bought a brand new box
for a
grand, DIDN'T.  As a matter of fact they didn't even have to spend
time learning how to use a screwdriver to open the case!

So, in TOTAL time you have spent on these boxes, including all
the time you have spent learning how to use the OS, L-User is
still ahead of you in that they have spent a lot less time on the
box in front of them.  Remember, Windows preloads are designed
so morons can get the machine working.  You don't have to know
-anything-, you don't even have to spend time learning how to use
Windows.  At least, I have to conclude this based on the actions of
many many people I have dealt with, in corporations even, who
are behind Windows boxes.

> 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.

If you're an L-User, when this happens you don't save files, take disk out,
it back, get new disk, install, test.  You take it back to store where
you bought it under the extended warranty, give it to them, say fix it,
and come back a week later.  It isn't necessary to actually spend time
learning how to fix your system or how to unscrew the case for that

Sure, some tech is going to spend time fixing the 'doze box.  But,
said tech -isn't- the person who -paid- for the box.

> > 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".

Correct, they block all incoming ports for well known services.  Obviously,
people can and do run servers on ports above 1024.

What do you mean you seldom see rated speed on your DSL line?
Are you talking from world to you, or are you talking from ISP to you?

> > 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.

Ah, so then what your saying is that you -don't- value the better
service?  Fair enough.  Many people don't value microbrews, that's
why they still sell the cheaper Bud Lite.

> * 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.

Right, as I said, this is when the ISP sells DSL service over Verizon
via retail.  Not wholesale.  You only talked to the ones at the time
that were selling retail.  Not unsurprising since Verizon is not the
majority LEC in the Portland Metro area, and most DSL ISPs in
Portland probably didn't have enough potential Verizon DSL customers to
even be able to sign the wholesale contract.

In other areas of the country where Verizon IS the majority LEC,
(particularly back east) all the ISP's there have signed the wholesale
agreement and you won't find the pricing differential.

> > ... 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 :)

I would expect that in Iowa also.  But seriously, 40 years ago was only
1966 and food had already started to take a dump in quality.  We were
still 15 years away from Reaganimicist John Block, Sec. of Agriculture,
defending "Ketchup as a vegetable" which I think was the zenith of
horrible food quality in the US, but the rot had already started

> > 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.

probably not but you get the idea.

> > 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?

Hmmm - interesting, I didn't list any services that you aren't currently
using, but your still trying to equate higher prices with services you
don't need.

What I listed is -better- implementations of the services that you
are already using.

> (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.

We all would like this and that, the question was, would you value it?

As in, would you pay extra to be able to reach someone who has a
clue when it stops working?

It sounds like with you, the answer is no.  That is, you aren't willing
to fork over anything more.  Not even as little as $1 a month to get
better, faster service if that is all it took.

That is fair enough - however you must understand that just because
you think that internet service is purely a commodity market, going to
the lowest bidder, that does not have to apply to everyone else.

When people like you are running around telling everyone that
all ISP's are the same, and just get the cheapest service possible,
your doing a disservice to people who don't want an Internet
experience just like you, who are in fact willing to pay the extra
$1 a month or so, to get better service.  Who would be willing
to pay more for an external DSL modem to be able to use a
public IP address on a real FreeBSD machine.  And, frankly, it
might be that they might not pay more, they might pay the same
as you, for better service if they just called around a little more.

> > > > 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.

That is correct.

> They should not be able to have
> it both ways.

They don't, according to the FCC, because:

> > 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.

I belive that Coke and Pepsi have the soft drink market split about
50-50.  Certainly, they have pushed all smaller soft drink mfgrs out
of a solid 80% of the distribution channel - when was the last time
for example you saw Old Bob Millers Sarsaparilla in a McDonalds,
Burger King, or movie theatre?

And I think you would have to be blind to not think that there's
collusion on pricing with Coke and Pepsi.  In the grocery store they
are all the same price, and the house brand sodas are a lot cheaper.

Where's the anti-trust action there?  What the communications
companies are doing is nothing compared to that.

> 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.

Well, they aren't enforcing them because they think that the consumer
isn't being made to suffer unduly.  For example, they don't go after Coke
and Pepsi because everybody knows that soft drinks are about the worst
food item you can put into your body, the Feds would like to see people
drinking less soda (reduces nutrition-related health costs) so if letting
Coke and Pepsi jack prices through the roof causes consumers to drink
less soda, good thing, that.

And they aren't going after the communications companies because the
FCC has told them that allowing communications companies to balloon
up and push smaller independent ISP's out of business is a Good Thing,
because after all, "...nobody needs much from an ISP beyond connectivity,
bandwidth, an IP address, and access to a nameserver..." and big giant
communications companies must be more likely to run DSL lines out to
the farmers in Boring, Oregon, since they have a lot more money.

> * 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,

There are no bottom feeders in DSL.  You see, by getting DSL you have made
the internal decision that your Internet service is a product that you
care something about.  The bottom feeders internal decisions are that
service is a product that they feel forced to have.  (because grandkids or
social services or whatnot mandates that they do it over broadband)

> 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
> broke.)

I ran UUCP off Agora for years to my personal system, to handle e-mail,
as a matter of fact. And my employer still has a handful of customers that
use ETRN
(ISDN ones, as you might guess)  And if we needed to, we could deploy a UUCP
account, we have all the components needed.


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