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Running an ISP in a Warzone 258

Posted by Hemos
from the frag-the-line dept.
musatov writes "SGT Coughanour, David A (HHC 1-110th Infantry US Army) speech on NOTACON 3: "Right now I am currently serving in Iraq where I run IT operations for a small chunk of the Sunni triangle. One of the major projects that we have accomplished here is setting up an ISP that supports 350 subscribers. It has also survived multiple mortar attacks, and is built entirely on Linux." Download video (80 MB QuickTime) Requires latest QuickTime installed. A mirror is available for people to download it."
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Running an ISP in a Warzone

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  • Wuss. (Score:5, Funny)

    by XorNand (517466) * on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:35AM (#15190166)
    I used to work at an ISP in Detroit.
    • Have you ever been to Detroit?

      1. Most places in Detroit are safe.
      2. The places that ARE very dangerous you would never go to if you worked for an ISP.
      3. Even if you DID go to the dangerous places, you would still be statisticly more likely to die of a heart attack, diabetes, or get hit by a car.

      Detroit saw the worst during the late 70s and early 80s, and is now going through a process of gentrification and redevelopment. Can't you find another city in the U.S. to make fun of and be a boogyman for white subu
      • Re:Wuss. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by XorNand (517466) *
        I live 30 minutes west of Detroit; off of Baseline (aka, 8 Mile) Rd. in fact. I'm allowed to poke fun at the city (and the Lions).
      • Can't you find another city in the U.S. to make fun of and be a boogyman for white suburban fear? The Detroit cliche is getting a little old.

        Hey...any town full of 300 lb Lions is dangerous.

        It could be worse. I went to Michigan and someone there asked me if I rode a horse to school or work in TX. Cliches will never die.

        At least the guy talking about Detroit was kidding. This guy was quite serious and embarassed.
      • Can't you find another city in the U.S. to make fun of...
        Jokes must play off stereotypes, or else they fail to draw laughter. You know, Montana is little tired of sheep jokes. Florida is tired of chad/ballot/dumb voter jokes. Roll with the punches and laugh. It was a well timed and placed pun.
      • Have you ever been to Detroit?

        Yes... Of course the gun shots and car vandalism happens in any big city.

        I felt that I saw a bit too much of it first hand on my small trip to Detriot.

        Still... The blocks and blocks of burnt out houses still is pretty bad.

        Much worse than say... North Philly.

        But I don't know if Detroit is worse than Camden (across the river from us).
    • Well, at least Detriot is a real place. The "Sunni Triangle" is about as real as the Bermuda Triangle. Dangerous? Hell, it's probably hard to find any place in Iraq that's not dangerous right now with a damn civil war going and the Turks looking like they are gonna open a can of whoop-ass on the Kurds again.
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Xest (935314) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:35AM (#15190172)
    Maybe it IS possible to run an ISP in Manchester (UK) after all!
  • by CockMonster (886033) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:36AM (#15190182)
    Who'd a thunk it?
  • by qwijibo (101731) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:38AM (#15190190)
    I've always found disaster recovery plans to be an annoying necessity in large businesses. I'd hate to see all the other paperwork that would be needed if my systems were subjected to mortar attacks. That certainly justifies the need for clustering over a WAN.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:44AM (#15190245)
      I think mentioning terrorism might be the new Goodwin's law, but at that risk, do you recall the WTC attacks? I used to work for a company whose servers were located in the WTC, thankfully I worked in Chicago. I may have been one of the first in Chicago to know something was wrong when all of our connections went down. Of course I just thought it was a network problem at first.
      • by tinkerghost (944862) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:50AM (#15190781) Homepage
        I was working tech support that day.
        You would not believe the number of people calling to complain that they couldn't see what was going on down the street because of the smoke and/or dust and they couldn't watch the news because their cable TV and internet services were not working.
        Geeee, there are whole blocks of your city missing, why do you THINK your Cable is down?
        IIRC - the basement of one of the towers housed a major peering point as well as a network satilite feeds.
      • I don't mean to discount all disaster recovery plans in large companies. That's certainly a good example of why they exist.

        However, I think the one size fits all approach goes overboard. For example, I need to create a disaster recovery plan for an environment that was considered small enough that all but one member of the development team was downsized after completion of the project. A DR plan was not a serious consideration at the time, so the information that would have been needed for a rational pla
    • Don't for get to factor in cluster bombs.... :)
  • by 6350' (936630) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:38AM (#15190191)
    Multiple mortar attacks would explain a lot about my isp.
  • by MattGWU (86623) * on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:38AM (#15190196)
    Here's the best line: "And there are couple of reasons why we do it: The uh...the DoD gives us an MWR cafe, for every 1000 troops you get something like 6 to 12 computers. And that's great, except some of the grey-list sites are kind of blocked so basically you can't get porn off it, among other things."

    Runner up:
    "Managed to get a Power Mac G5 smuggled in from eBay"
    • Runner up:
      "Managed to get a Power Mac G5 smuggled in from eBay"

      Yeah, that line drew quite the chuckle from the audience too. You should've been there, his talk was pretty cool.

      Seriously, getting the simplest of gear over there sounds like quite a challenge, but persuading an eBay seller to mislabel the contents of a package is probably much easier than the government requisition channels of a similar but "official" operation. The independent ISP always has a role, and you can generalize this to municipal wi

  • by mike2R (721965) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:39AM (#15190203)
    Bulletproof hosting [wikipedia.org]..
    • I wonder if anyone has tried that for real. Some sort of multiple server system up and running when someone puts a bullet through one without the system missing a beat. Now that's a video that would get some attention, both for the insanity and technical merit.
      • Some sort of multiple server system up and running when someone puts a bullet through one without the system missing a beat.

        Would a storage (disk array) subsystem do? Here [theinquirer.net] you go.

      • Re:IT + NRA (Score:5, Interesting)

        by joib (70841) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:12AM (#15190484)

        I wonder if anyone has tried that for real. Some sort of multiple server system up and running when someone puts a bullet through one without the system missing a beat. Now that's a video that would get some attention, both for the insanity and technical merit.


        Funny you should say that. HP just did it with their high end storage array. See here [hp.com].
        • Hmmmm,
          I can understand that the video might be entertaining, however, since they picked the spot to shoot at, nothing is really said about the reliability of the system. On the other hand, I have seen IBM machines shot, electricuted and other "accidents" in the field that kept running.

          However, the cost for IBM equipment is also more expensive than just buying multiple generic systems and running them out of different data sections... so funny clip, but not really impressive.

          La
        • Welcome to the states and a video that is 1/3rd a disclaimer
  • Now (Score:5, Funny)

    by kryten_nl (863119) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:39AM (#15190208)
    Now that's running Linux in sandbox mode.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:39AM (#15190210) Journal
    If they can survive putting an 80MB video file on the front page of /., well, lets just say I'll be far more impressed.
  • Linux? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Squalid05 (850603) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:41AM (#15190223) Homepage
    Linux...easy.. The hard task is doing that with Windows.
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <.ten.enilnotpo. .ta. .rehtorgw.> on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:45AM (#15190248) Journal
    It has also survived multiple mortar attacks, and is built entirely on Linux.

    Is there anything Linux can't do?

  • It's about time that TCP/IP was tested in the conditions it was designed for.

    Seriously, other that to act as a recruiting tool for the U.S. Army, what's the news here? All-Linux mom-and-pop size ISPs have been the norm, I think, as far back as 1994 or so.
  • by Pinefresh (866806) <(william.simpson) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:47AM (#15190269)
    but you have to DL quicktime for windows to watch the video
    • by OmegaBlac (752432)
      I realize parent was modded funny, but mplayer (with up to date codecs) will play the video just fine. VLC on my Debian box can play it somewhat with audio intact, but the video is fuzzy.
    • This video, and just quicktime is general, is pure H.264 video, with AAC audio, in an MP4 container. 100% standards compliant. Any decent video player should handle it.

      It's actually quite nice that one of the 3 big commercial multimedia programs uses 100% non-propritary codecs.

      Real has always been propritary, and even though they opened up their player, they've kept the codecs locked-up under strict click-through EULAs.

      WMV3 (aka WMV9/VC-1) is going to be an SMTPE standard now, but that doesn't make the as
  • See. If he hadn't been running Linux, I don't think he'd have uptime through those mortar attacks. Windows just can't handle that kind of abuse. I think that's an oft-forgotten selling point of Linux that should be cited more often.

    Yeah, your OS has cool graphics. But how does it stand up against a mortar attack?
  • by b1t r0t (216468) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:50AM (#15190302)
    Distributed Dispersal of Shrapnel, that is.

    They also have to watch out for TCP/IP packets that arrive out of ordnance.

  • by kaoshin (110328) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:52AM (#15190315)
    Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, KIA = 0 (0% KIA)
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday April 24, 2006 @10:59AM (#15190372)
    Lets see, there's the Linux angle, with optional (anti)piracy garnish.
    Then there's the Iraq angle.
    Then there's the "we should be feeding people before we bother to set up ISPs in the 3rd world angle".

    Gosh.

    S/N ratio dropping to zero in 10...9....8....7....
    • An ISP and an internet cafe is all a third-world country needs to feed itself.

      Hello! My name is Muhamed! My father was the chief boot licker to his excellency of filth, Sadam Hussein. While he was licking his boots, he stole many dinars from his pantleg cuff, and hid them in our house. Now, we have a basement filled with ONE BILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS, but have nowhere to spend them!

      Please be to you, kind sir, send some hookers, and you will receive 25% of my ONE BILLION UNITED STATES DOLLARS as your fee
    • Iraqis were starving but mostly that was due to the sanctions imposed on them. Before the sanctions it was a fairly well off population living under a secular socialist dictatorship.

      The sanctions did cause immense suffering mainly because they were implemented after Bush the elder destroyed a lot of infrasture like water treatment plants, factories, roads, bridges, electrical generation facilites etc. The UN estimated that more then a million people died as a consequence including hundreds of thousands of c
  • by Badgerman (19207) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:02AM (#15190394)
    It's just very, very neat to see how people do technical work like this in adverse situations.

    I'm passing this one on to my branch's VP of disaster planning. He's very cool, and likes to have a little "extra" to hit people over the head about good planning.
  • by Peldor (639336) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:08AM (#15190443)
    Anybody can survive a mortar attack.

    Let's see them survive a mortar hit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:10AM (#15190470)
    I was stationed at Camp Taqaddum for about 10 months in 2005. The MWR internet center was across camp a few miles so I decided to set up my own satellite based connection. Peak usage was about 80 soldiers and marines, fed off of multiple wireless APs.

    The ability to be in constant communication with family while we were not out on missions (we did security patrols of our Area of Operation) was a great boost to morale. Web cams and email meant you could see and talk to the people that mattered most to you.

    We sold the operation to another unit just before we left, and there were 3 other systems I helped set up in our area serving other groups.

    To the current soldiers, marines, and others at Camp Taqaddum: Give 'em Hell and keep your buddyies safe!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      (Please feel free to strengthen the arguments in this off-topic post.)

      In order for the U.S. military to operate effectively, there must be strength in the chain of command. Following orders is critical, dissent cannot be tolerated .

      Therefore, it is up to the non-military citizens of the U.S. to provide a check on the transient civilian military leadership (president, vp, sec defense).

      This is nominally the job of the U.S. congress. But when the dominant party in congress is the same as the party controllin
  • Additional Mirrors (Score:4, Informative)

    by c0nman (573940) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:16AM (#15190520)
    Here are a few mirrors to use up. I'll probably bring them down after a few TB of transfer...

    New Jersey
    http://www.def-con.org/~nocfed/downloads/notacon06 _hajjinet.mp4 [def-con.org]

    Texas
    http://www2.def-con.org/~nocfed/downloads/notacon0 6_hajjinet.mp4 [def-con.org]
  • survival... (Score:2, Funny)

    by mengu (452383)

    It has also survived multiple mortar attacks

    Are they using HP Storageworks maybe?

    http://h71028.www7.hp.com/ERC/cache/49205-0-0-225- 121.aspx?bodycontentparams=320065-0-0-0-121&ERL=tr ue [hp.com]
  • by Perseid (660451) on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:26AM (#15190590)
    NOTACON? Sounds like an ISP funded by Nixon.
  • since the one in the summary has stopped working already...
    http://www.lassitu.de/notacon06_hajjinet.mp4 [lassitu.de]
  • so what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Geekboy(Wizard) (87906) <spambox&theapt,org> on Monday April 24, 2006 @11:37AM (#15190677) Homepage Journal
    computers don't care if bullets are fired near it. and if bullets were fired at it, then it wouldn't matter what OS it was running.
  • Yes, it works.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LuisAnaya (865769)
    I IM chat with one of my high school buddies that is serving in Iraq. They get about 1/2 an hour of computer use to email friends and family. My friend logs in and checks the class bulletin board and chats with whomever is online. So far, it has worked. One thing he noticed was the he was not able to run some chat java applets. Other than that, it works well and at least I'm happy to know that he's still well.
  • by J05H (5625)
    Sgt. Coughaner was quoted afterward, "We survived the Sunni Triangle, but got 0WN3D by Slashdot!"
  • by tobiasly (524456) on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:16PM (#15190963) Homepage
    ...to the term DMZ.
  • Tachyon! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pointbeing (701902) on Monday April 24, 2006 @12:23PM (#15190996)
    I work for an agency under DoD. We've deployed several Tachyon [tachyon.net] systems in southwest Asia. Tachyon is a satellite solution with one fixed option and two mobile options. We had problems in the beginning with regular T1 lines being cut by insurgents or vehicles - and it takes weeks to get a new line run that we decided to go satellite.

    The coolest system of the three that Tachyon offers is the 'Auto-Deploy CAS' system, where you just plug it in, push a button and the thing finds the satellite on it's own.

    A bit spendy, but we've found them to be the most reliable solution for broadband communications.

  • meaning to the term "Somebody set up us the bomb!"
  • Just go into your firewall settings, and set up a very large 'DMZ' ;)

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