FreeBSD challenged by Internet

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at
Thu Jan 25 12:52:06 UTC 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <perryh at>
To: <tedm at>
Cc: <freebsd-questions at>
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 12:40 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?
> 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.

Well I'd have to say based on my experience with used gear that
this was a rarity.

> > > > 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 2 systems, Windows or FreeBSD, cost the same.  That is,
assuming that time=money.  Which everyone does, except for those
who have so much money they don't have to work for a living, or
those who have nothing and are perectly content to live with - nothing.

It is like owning property.  One person can have a plot he bought 40
years ago for $5000  Right next to it another person can have the same
size plot that's similar features he bought for $100K a week ago.

The tax man is not going to say to the first person that your plot is only
worth $5K  The plot has equity in it that makes it just as expensive as
the $100K plot.

Sure, you can go pull an old system and load FreeBSD on it and pay
maybe $50 out of pocket.  But the running system that results cost
nearly the same as the new Windows system because it has the equity in it
that you built up over the years in learning about FreeBSD.  To
anyone that has no specialized FreeBSD experience, which is 99.9% of
the population, to obtain that running FreeBSD system they either have
to pay the time/money to learn how to build it, or pay someone to build
it for them.

I can flip this the other way.  I've been doing FreeBSD and Windows
for years and have a big collection of install CDs and floppies for
each.  I can take that same old clunker you got for $20 and build
a complete Windows system plus Microsoft Office on it, that will
work perfectly well.  Sure, it might be Windows 98 since that runs
on the old clunker and Win XP doesen't.  Sure it is pirated software
rather than freeware (since Win98 isn't available anymore)  but
the market doesen't give a crap about that as long as they seem
to be sucking down used Macs with upgraded MacOS on them that come
without install CD's and old PC clones with Windows on them that
come without Windows install CD's.  (not that I'm saying your Sawtooth
didn't come
with install CD's but you know perfectly well most of the used
computers out there do not come with install CDs for the version of
operating system that is running on them when they are sold.)

> > 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.

Bashing of an old clunker?  I don't think so.  What I was bashing is the
idea that FreeBSD costs little to nothing since you can get virtually free
PC's to run it on and FreeBSD doesen't cost anything.  That is a patently
false idea.  If you don't believe that your FreeBSD education and training
expensive you are wrong.  It might have been fun to get - but it still cost
you time to get.

> > > [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."

Yep - I've read it and that's about it.  As for a TOS violation though,
let's say this, as an ISP employee I don't countenance the violation of
the INTENT of the TOS.

By the letter of the law a comcast customer isn't violating TOS because
there is no legal definition of a "server" nor of "well known ports" nor
is there any caselaw that has much in the way of defining this.  Which
by the way is just how Comcast wants it anyway.  They write the TOS
language loosely so that if a user does something they don't like (ie:
fires up kazza, or gnutella or Internet Doom some other brand new
application that they decide is an annoyance) they can filter it or attempt
to filter it, and if the user squawks they can claim that they are just
operating within their own TOS agreement and the user can't force them to
stop blocking by threat of contract violation.

A real TOS binds both the ISP and the customer - it binds the customer
against doing things that the ISP doesen't want, (ie spamming, cracking,
and since anything not explicitly prohibited by TOS is thus permitted by
implication, it binds the ISP to not interfere with any network activities
that aren't

If your running a busiiness and you have a webserver on your
line you most definitely don't want it shut down without warning in the
middle of
your busy time.  Thus, TOS prevents the ISP from doing something half cocked
and gives you some rights that are protected.

What Comcast has is nothing more than a document they can wave around
in the face of complainers to make them go away, it has no legal force
whatsoever and from a moral standpoint it is wrong because it claims to
be something that it is not.

> > 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.

OK, well then here's a challenge to you, can decide to accept it
or not.

I'll give you a temporary shell account on one of servers at the
ISP I work at.  It's all on the up-and-up, we have a program for
issuing 30 day trial accounts   Next time you see a site that has
lower thoughput than what your DSL line capacity is, ssh into our
server and make the transfer to your shell account from that
site, via fetch or whatnot, and see if the throughput is the same or not.

> > > 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.

Ah, you didn't call them.

They all do this for an extremely simple and obvious reason.  Revenue

If a guy buys a DSL account from DSL Only for $30 a month
and 2 months later DSL Only decides they are going to lower their
price in leu of advertising to get more customers, what do you think said
guy is going to do if one day he sees the price on DSL Only website
to be lower?  I'll tell you, he and all DSL Only other customers
are going to call in and demand the special deal, and all the sudden
the DSL plan to get more customers has just blown up in their face.

I don't believe there's an ISP in Portland that has current pricing on
their site.

> > ... 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.

No, you are not correct there.  Yes there's a lot of silicon folks in
Wash Co.  But, the population in Portland dwarfs Wash Co.  Also,
it is far far more dense which is critical for a DSL deployment.  And,
Qwest does not stick it in pricing to the independent ISPs the way that
Verizon does.  Why would an ISP like Easystreet who does not have
a Verizon DSL wholesale account, bother spending marketing dollars
on marketing Verizon when they know Verizon is going to undercut them?

It is very much a chicken and egg problem.  No ISP is going to spend
the money to interconnect with Verizon, sign a wholesale agreement,
and all of that, until they have sufficient Verizon customers to have a
business justification to do it.  But, in order to get that sufficient
customer base, they have to have a wholesale agreement!!!

In fact, Verizon enforces this by mandating customer minimums in
their agreement, you cannot even sign one until you have a certain number
of customers.  And until recently, we were talking minimums that
were appropriate for, perhaps, Seattle.  Not bedroom communities
of Portland.

There are also a number of other factors.  Portland has much higher
business customer base.  Business want other things besides just
the DSL line, like webhosting, that brings in more money.  Verizon
customer base is mainly residential.

And last but not least is the ATM vs Frame thing.  Verizon initally
deployed Fujitsu DSL modems that were frame based.  An ISP could
get a frame relay T1 to Verizon to supply service.  Then Verizon
decided to deploy using ATM.  For a long time, the minimum the
ISP had to have to for ATM was a DS3.  NOT a T1.  A DS3.
Quite a bit more expensive, that.  ATM is definitely better -but Verizon
shed a lot of ISPs when that came down.

We have had several customers call us who were told
by other ISPs they couldn't get DSL (when they called those ISP's
for service qualification checks) but were told by Verizon they
could get it, and didn't want  They wanted to know
why the discrepancy.  Simple, frame relay/Fujitsu DSL ports were
not available in their area, ATM were.  We supply atm - those
customers signed with us.

> > > 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).

That pricing won't change on the website because a number of my
employers competitors also advertise the Verizon cost as Internet cost only,
no line charges.  IP's cost for a wholesale account is, of course,
higher than the $19.95, but not as high as the $19.95+Verizon
line charges.  So if IP advertises it's wholesale pricing then it appears
to be more expensive than it's competitors who are ignoring line
charges.  Your typical ignorant user has no comprehension of
what line charges are, and would simply call the "cheaper" ISP.

If I had a nickle for evey time I had someone tell me "I don't understand
why I have to pay you for DSL service when I get charged for DSL service
already on my phone bill" I'd be independently wealthy.

Please don't tell me we ought to explain all this on the website -
if most people looking at that site had some brains, we would have
done it.  Unfortunately most people's brains shut down if they
are required to read more than 3 paragraphs.  Hell, why do you
think I'm being so frank in a public forum?  I know most people won't
be reading this post because it's just too long for them.

> > 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).

That is intentional - the website is intended to get you to call in.
What good is a marketing tool like a website if it does not generate
calls?  Web logs don't tell you jack, you know that.

When you get a flyer from Safeway, it advertises milk, and a few
other things.  You don't get the total cost until you go there.  Same
with Fred Meyer or any of ther other grocery stores.  And if you go
to the Safeway website, the prices on that site differ than what's in
the store.

Now, as for the TOS, that I think is an apples-to-oranges comparison.
I don't think Verizon's TOS is very restrictive - either on their customers
or on Verizon.  I think my employers TOS is more restrictive both
on me and on customers.

Which whould you rather have?  A TOS where either party can do
damn well as they please, or a TOS that actually draws a border?  You also
haven't really said if you think the TOS is bad or not - just that it's
more restrictive.  Is that bad or good?

> > > 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.

Well, you see the problem here is that if the ISP sets up monitoring,
lets say for simplicities sake they ping every IP number in the
DSL group, then how do you know if the customer is actually down
or just has their machine turned off?

Say, for example, the customer has their DSL modem and computer
on a power strip, and they turn off the power strip at night.  I've seen
customers that do that.  Or the customer has an internal Intel DSL
card (Qwest sold those for a while) or an Intel DSL USB modem (
those modems only got power from USB) or they just decided for
whatever reason to turn off the DSL modem, maybe their kid
unplugged the DSL modem power cube to plug in his ipod charger.

Also, just about all the Verizon customers are running DSL modems
that are pure bridges, they do not respond to IP pings as they
have no IP address, so you can have the modem turned on and
trained up, but not be able to see squat at the customer prem because
their PC is off.  About a quarter of the Qwest ones are in
bridged mode that are the same thing.

Verizon does not provide any interface for connected ISPs to query
status of customers, whether they are trained up or not.  Qwest does -
but the interface is very slow and usually takes about 5 minutes to
get status on ONE customer (no kidding) and furthermore it's a web
page, not something like a finger interface, so you would have to parse what
you want out of it.  Also, the status takes about 10-15 minutes to
change state to what the DSL line is actually doing.

If every customer had a server that was up 24 hours, you could
monitor them.  For business customers it's a no-brainer, IP has
lots of those monitored.  But you need to rethink residential monitoring
before making those statements.

Naturally, everyone monitors their internal gear (routers, etc.)

> > 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.

Ah yes, that part.  Your right in that ought to be modified.  The
was created because originally 99% of people that wanted a DNS name
on their residential DSL line wanted one so they could put up a business
webserver.  There has always been a handful of techs who wanted to
remote into home desktops and were clueful enough to want a DNS name,
in those cases, just about all of them were perfectly happy with
"". (of course there is no charge for
 But it is true that since Win XP, more
and more non-techs are getting interested in doing that.  Of course, most
of them just go into the raw IP address and so don't care. (since the IP
never changes.  All's customer IP's are static, for all customers.
It makes
finding people infected with spambots immensely easier)

However, it is easy enough to get an exception to that rule - you just
e-mail and
explain what your doing is not business and you will get one.  Of course
explanation has to be realistic.  "I prototype webserver software at home
my own company I own" is not realistic.  Excception-granting probably should
on that page too.

>  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
> rdrop.

I could have sworn he provisioned through Verizon Frame for a
while (while it was still available)


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