FreeBSD challenged by Internet

perryh at perryh at
Wed Jan 24 09:49:59 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.
> 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?

The seller wiped the drives and reloaded the OS.  When I turned
it on, I got the "new MacOS" sequence -- or whatever it might
officially be called -- just as if it had been brand-new from
Apple.  I suppose the seller figured that the $225 he charged
was sufficient to cover both the value of the hardware and his
time reinitializing it.

> > > 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.

Totally fair, if the goal is to end up with a FreeBSD system.

> 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)

Yeah, if you want a !!@@##$$ Windoze box, but AFAIK you can't go
out and buy a box with FreeBSD preloaded and ready for userland
configuration (and kernel hacking :)  Linux, maybe, but not any
of the *BSD.  It takes *zero* longer to wipe the existing Windoze
off a pre-owned box than to wipe the preloaded Windoze off a new
Dell/Compaq/whatever.  The point being that your bashing of "an
old clunker" above just doesn't hold water.

> > [re 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 ... 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.

If so, they are violating the TOS as I understand it -- and you
as an ISP employee could never countenance that :)  The language
was something along the lines of "I agree not to run a server of
any kind ..." not "I agree not to run servers on well-known ports"
or "I agree not to make servers available to the public."

> 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?

World, of course.  DSL is a dedicated 2.5" fire hose to the ISP.
Cable is a shared 5" supply line.  When the source is a garden
hose, or there is enough congestion that the path from the source
to my ISP is effectively a booster line, the capacity from ISP to
me doesn't affect matters very much at all.

> > Anyway, I'm comparing the wire charges, not the ISP service ...
> > 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.

When I checked, I looked at everyone I could find via Google.
I think there was one quoting a package price that was competitive
with Verizon's, and that one was out due to a co-worker's very bad
past experience with them.  Some didn't mention pricing at all, and
they didn't get a second look.  The rest quoted separately the wire
charge to Verizon, and their own ISP charge, and all those wire
charges were the same (and higher than Verizon's package price).
Maybe *no one* had a wholesale deal then.

> ... most DSL ISPs in Portland probably didn't have enough potential
> Verizon DSL customers to even be able to sign the wholesale contract.

With the vast majority of silicon forest folks living in Verizon
territory (Washington County)?  Gimme a break!  More likely Verizon
was not *offering* wholesale rates to anyone but their own ISP.

> > 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.

Here I am referring to the fact that, in effect, I have to *pay*
Verizon for full ISP service, including their email and whatever
else that I never use, plus a surcharge if I want to use a
different ISP.  Maybe the situation is different now (but one
wouldn't know from your employer's web site -- it mentions only
the $15.95, $19.95, etc. ISP charge with no hint as to how much
additional goes to Verizon for the DSL line).

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

Better how?  Your outfit's TOS are, in some ways, more restrictive
than Verizon's, and I couldn't figure out a total cost from the web
site (unless that $15.95 is the entire package cost).

> > 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?

Whenever I notice that it has stopped working, without my having
done anything to break it, either the ISP or the telco has already
failed.  I shouldn't have to pay more to reach someone who knows
how to fix it.  I really shouldn't even have to call -- the network
monitoring gear should have notified the responsible tech before
I even noticed the outage.  If the outage *is* already known, my
call can be answered by a machine -- like PGE has -- that tells me
it's a known problem and gives an estimated repair time.

> 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 ...
> When people like you are running around telling everyone that
> all ISP's are the same

I didn't say all are the same.  I said that, when I checked, no one
was anywhere near cost-competitive with Verizon.  (That was slightly
inaccurate:  there was one, but I was not willing to risk dealing
with them due to reputation.)  I do not blame the independents for
this; I suspect the lack of substantial competition was by design
on Verizon's part.

> ... 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.

Again, it was not an extra $1 or so.  It was more like an extra $30
or $35 total cost.

> Who would be willing to pay more for an external DSL modem

I *have* got an external Westell.  Supplied by Verizon when I first
hooked up.  Originally connected to a 386 GNATBox, which I had to
swap out for a Netgear RP614 when Verizon "upgraded" their system.

> to be able to use a public IP address on a real FreeBSD machine.

Depends what you mean by "public".  My current DHCP address is fully
routable, it just changes occasionally.  You might issue me a static
IP, but your TOS won't allow me to use someone like dyndns to attach
a name to it.  I could build my own OpenBSD NAT firewall, but *that*
is the sort of thing that I *would* prefer to pay Netgear or GNATBox
to set up.

> 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 actually care something about.

I care some about the speed, and more about not tying up the phone
line.  My current DSL does not cost much, if any, more than a second
phone line plus a dialup ISP; and it is certainly faster than 56K.

> > (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.

You may have noticed a familiar name in my Received: headers :)
If I were in Quest territory, I would very likely have DSL through

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