[sf-lug] AT&T DSL in Marin

Chris Mason mason.christopher.thomas at gmail.com
Tue Mar 16 22:59:06 PDT 2010


I know this is the SFLUG, but I'm sure I'm not the only one from the
other side of the Golden Gate.

I recently finished helping my friend build his computer, installing &
configuring Ubuntu, etc.

Then came the task of getting him set up with DSL service from a
company that doesn't officially support it, AT&T.

By default, before registering a username/pass with the modem they
provide, your web browser redirects you to a "register your service"
type webpage.

"Welcome bla bla click next" -> "Select your operating system"

If you click "Apple OS 9 or Linux", the next screen basically tells
you to insert the Windows install CD and follow onscreen directions.
Alternatively, it prompts you to download a setup.exe thing. Not very
helpful. The Windows option also tells you to download a windows .exe.
Again, not helpful. We all know that you don't need OS X or Windows to
connect to the internet via DSL, but the impression being generated is
that you need one of the two to _register_. This sounded absurd to me,
and I'm pretty sure it's a recent development.... I did see some
Yahoo! branding, and new AT&T accounts apparently have their official
e-mail address associated with Yahoo! Mail... but I'll keep the
conspiracy theories to myself.

Connected to the provided router by putting it's IP in the web
browser. There where a few blanks I couldn't fill in on my own (user &
password wasn't registered yet, so didn't have one to put in, etc)

Soooo I called them up. Played the button pushing game on the phone,
finally got a human.

I asked the person if they could walk me through the web-browser-based
process of registering, because I didn't want to install their
software (100mb!) on my computer. She said yes. Worked fine. I was
tempted to toss a "muahahaha, so you DO support Linux!" at the end,
but thought better of it.

Just food for thought in case anyone else encounters this when signing
up for internet service without a Windows or Apple computer laying
around: worry not, there is a very good chance you can just call and
ask to be walked through the same registration process through the web
browser. Make no mention of Linux, and let them assume what they will.
They may say something to the effect of "start Internet explorer and
go to" or whatever.... and as far as they know, starting
IE is exactly what you did.

And, in general, I intend to keep this "web-browser-back-door" thing
in the back of my head as a workaround for artificial barriers placed
in front of me as a Linux user. Printer companies, for example, may
not officially support Linux... but what if I call them asking for
help with the CUPS web interface? Macs use CUPS, as I recall. If one
can get the printer driver and CUPS installed to the point that they
can get to the web interface and see their printer listed (even if not
functional yet), perhaps we can simply call up HP or whomever and ask
_specifically_ for help using that _specific_ tool to configure our
printers? "Oh, I would just prefer to use the web interface to manage
my wonderful new HP printer. I'd hate to have to return it. You _do_
support Macs, right?"



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