Wednesday May 18, 2005
DSL meets Linux - or, the nifty Actiontec router
Girlfriend ordered DSL (I have Voicestream's $20/mo unlimited GPRS and their HotSpot service).
This thing apparently replaces the Cisco 675/678's Qwest used to deploy.
At first I was anxious when I saw the packaging -
the antistatic bag had a big "Before connecting the cables... Do not connect any cables to this modem until instructed to do so. Please begin by inserting the Installation CD into your CD-ROM drive".
You're supposed to connect the thing to your computer using USB and run a configurator program on your computer before attaching it to the 'net, apparently.
This made me nervous.
It posed a few problems: the Linux install on my laptop probably won't run the software, even under emulation, and my Panasonic Toughbook CF-R1 doesn't even have a CD-ROM drive (actually,
that's not entirely true - said girlfriend has
a USB drive I often use, but just imagine for a
moment that I didn't have such a cool girlfriend).
Okay, screw the instructions.
I plug the device into power and then Ethernet
and hit it with my Web browser - it attempts
HTTP Basic Auth - that's a good sign.
I don't have the password and I don't guess
it so I call Qwest.
The technition I get doesn't bawk when I explain
I've thrown the instructions out the window
and I want the password to the HTTP Auth
interface but the password he gives me doesn't
work so he has me do a hard reset (ram a small object into the little hole for thirty seconds... hrm, kind
of suggestive, actually) and then it won't
even talk to me.
The tech asks if there's a switch in the way -
I reply "yes" as I bypass it and plug the
machine directly into the router and set a
static IP of 192.168.0.2 to go along with
the router's IP of 192.168.0.1.
It lets me in without authorization.
The Web based interface is complete, logical,
and friendly and I quickly get the settings
plugged in - but not before noticing a
telnet admin option.
Telneting to the thing, I'm greeted by Busybox!
The thing runs Linux!
And it's running thttpd!
I love thttpd!
And it has a tftp utility so I could load
more software onto it!
Woo... go Actiontec!
The cgi-bin programs are compiled binaries.
I was half expecting to see Perl or somethin'.
And the ISP, fastq.com, is Unix-friendly.
They're a little local outfit - they never
thank you for calling or any of that
garbage - but morons don't answer the phone there.
So I'm shocked - a neatly designed, user friendly,
OS-neutral DSL modem and a helpful, knowledgeable Qwest tech made my day.