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Two-Way Satellite Internet For Linux/Mac/BSD/etc. 118

tjw writes: "It seems that Starband has gone out of their way to make sure that their bidirectional satellite internet service was ONLY compatable with Newer MS OS's. However, if you don't mind voiding your warranty, you can strip out this "feature" and use the external modem as its engineers intended by use of a crossover cable, NIC, and DHCP client on ANY modern Operating System. You still need a USB->serial cable and a MS Operating system to install/commission the hardware though."
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Two-Way Satellite Internet For Linux/Mac/BSD/etc.

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  • > the goal of usb is to make ps/2, paralell and
    > serial ports go away, and replace them with one
    > general solution.

    > the mac did this 10 years ago.


    Until the advent of USB, the Mac used ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) to connect keyboards and mice, and used serial ports for other device attachment (printers, LocalTalk dongles, modems, what-have-you). The only difference I see from the PC situation is that in the Macintosh world printers were serial devices, where in the PC world printers tended to attach to parallel ports. ADB and PS/2 can be considered analogous, and a serial port is (ideally; ISTR certain electrical differences between Mac and PC serial ports, but I don't have a reference handy to verify) the same all over, despite a different connector. I'd hardly say that Macs had a USB-esque general solution ten years ago.

    That said, I agree that using a single type of port to support devices with relatively low I/O bandwidth requirements and which the user may wish to hot-plug is a good idea.
  • by kroah ( 751 )
    Whoa, it is definetly not their problem that linux USB support is not up to par???

    The main problem why Linux does not have support for as many different USB devices as Win98/2000 do, is because of companies not releasing their specs to their vendor specific devices for anyone to write Linux drivers.

    That is it, plain and simple. If a device meets a USB device spec, then odds are Linux supports it. If not, and the device uses a ventor specific protocol, then odds are Linux doesn't, and will not, unless someone reverse engineers the protocol, or the vendor releases the specs.

    And reverse engineering the protocol isn't really worth it anymore, most of us Linux USB developers would rather work with the companies that do release their specs.

    So yes, it is the vendor's fault that the Linux USB support isn't "up to par" with Windows.

    greg k-h
    Linux USB developer
  • Besides, anyone wise enough to use Linux will be wise enough to avoid using a satellite modem anyways.

    How do you figure? I run Linux, and am considering StarBand, now that I know I can use it. Am I an idiot? I don't think I'm an idiot, but I could be wrong.

    Or is it, perhaps, that you neglected to consider that some people don't live in the urban sewer, and are not peppered with broadband options? I have two connectivity choices: dialup or satellite.

    Now, when the LEO birds go up, I'll obviously switch to one of those services in a second, but until then, StarBand may be a reasonable option.


  • by X ( 1235 )
    I could be mistaken, but I believe the specs for Ethernet-USB adaptors are pretty well defined.
  • Wireless. Check out Prairie I-net at They're targeting the rural market specifically.

  • Well.. it looks to me like it would probably be hackable by either a telnet connection or nullmodem cable through the appropriate connector on the box... I can't imagine the thing would be any more sophisticated than a Cisco Router or a Portmaster or similar equipment...

    Or maybe I'm wrong...

  • If they had allowed generic usage, then even if they only "officially" supported Windows, then they would still deal with emails and calls, which cost time and money to take care of.
    Emails and calls which they make it very clear that you will be charged for! Seems that there are plenty of other services which put forth the official position that, "if you want to play around with fire, don't come running to us when our product breaks, unless you want to pay us to fix it for you. However, we aren't going to stop you!"

  • I've got a computer in my van. This would rule for mobile IP connectivity, if not for the cost.

    Not to mention the problem of tracking a satellite from a moving platform using equipment not intended for such use...
  • by Splat ( 9175 )
    Does your local cable company use two-way cable modems? If so, then I don't think that's a real great valid reason not to go with them. You'd seriously rather suffer on 56K then figure out on your own how to get a cable modem to work in Linux?

  • From the web site:

    Do I have to purchase a new PC in order to get the StarBand service?

    That depends. If you purchase MSN® Internet service powered by StarBand through RadioShack stores, the PC is an integral part of the StarBand package.

    Gee, maybe StarBand has a deal with Microsoft, and MS prefers it only to work with MS products? I'm not surprised the engineers kept to's the guys in the big offices who screw things up.

  • Well, Actually, the USB port does have a big advantage over the parallel port for printing...
    speed. Most Cheap USB printers don't take advantage of that, but really you could have a fast printer attached to the usb port that 3 years ago would have had to be a network printer to get the same results.
  • Microsoft (MSN) IS the ISP. Starband is a joint effort of EchoStar Communications (DISH Network), Gilat Satellite, and Micro$oft. For the average non-geek type living in the boonies it's a better than what you have solution, although I don't expect Micro$oft to ever support anything but their own stuff. As a very happy Echostar customer I got in line for the Starband (originally called Gilat to home) as soon as I could, but couldn't stomach the terms they wanted just to be a beta site. Still waiting for DSL where I live.

  • i was not talking about usb itself but about the concept of having a bus that you can hotplug devices to.

    greetings, eMBee.

  • what do you mean by hide?
    if you look at the pictures provided in on of the links, the rj45 port is clearly visible.
    it just does not work unless you remove the usb->ethernet card.

    my point is, that this could have been an accident as well as being intentional, because there is nothing that indicates that it must have been intentional.
    it's not fair to just assume that they have bad intentions, when they could be just plain stupid.

    greetings, eMBee.

  • I'm sure that when Red Hat are in a position to offer cash subsidies to hardware manufacturers, you will see much better Linux support. My understanding of the matter is that Microsoft (Bill Gates in particular) opposed WinModems on the grounds that the idea is stupid and the performance suck would reflect poorly on Windows. The lack of Linux drivers is due to the fact that WinModems are ultra-cheap hardware and the companies involved don't want to spend more money on software development.
  • Beside the latency problem I'm wondering how this technology can scale up when there'll be more and more users using it. "Ordinary" satellites only have to receive data from a few sites but with the starband system there'll be hundred or thousands of sites sending data to the same satellite. I guess that'll be a big problem to prevent to users using the same frequency, polarization, etc. to send data at the same time.
  • All you need to do is remove the USB card and connect to the 180's ethernet port like any other DSL or cablemodem. The rest of the setup items (crossover cable, router) are suggestions.
  • You are absolutely right. They DON'T specifically reject paying users, they unspecifically leave them stuck, hoping that the users will take care of their own problems so that they don't have to train staff in how to to configure a free OS for dhcp, for example.

    I've been through the process twice with Roadrunner alone, and the first time I made the mistake of letting them know I run linux (after I got tired of trying to explain freebsd). The second time, I wasn't even there and told them on the phone "Yeah, I know to use DHCP, I know to cycle the power on the cable modem if I change ethernet cards/mac address, just make sure it works."

    That's the real reason that we have standards. As long as they use something that almost everyone can deal with, like DHCP, they can wash their hands, and I get my service, and everyone's happy (as long as I know to lie to customer support when I call during a service outage).

    But it's also why purely proprietary systems should be terminated with extreme predjudice.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • For my school. We travel a lot (about to go on the road for 8-9 weeks at a time) and having internet access from the middle of mexico, a rest-stop, etc. would allow the school to start putting it's work and research on the internet as it is happening, so other schools who may not be able to travel as we do, can use the material.

    A lot cheaper than even TRYING to get cellphone internet working on the wireless lan setup that we carry with us.

    There is a company called Tachyon ( that does something similar, however its $6,000 for the unit and like $300 a month for 384k up/down and one would get 500-1200 ms lag. But for sending email and things, its perfect (considering the campus is on a dual shared 56k dialup system).

    Take one "small" telescope motor / self pointing device (one where you punch in x/y and it points there, so you can see yoru favorite constellations) along with a pc connected to a gps reciever, and mount the dish on that. Whenever internet access is needed, just hop out, setup the tripod with the antenna, let GPS get a fix, pc calculates proper angle for the dish, motor aims it, and your online. (obviously the system would have to be modified in case certain areas / time zones have different settings).

    Going to try to email the company to see if they are willing to help out a highschool.
  • I've read the entire comment string so far and haven't found any helpful information about anyone's real experiences with Starband, other than "get DSL/Cable instead!"

    Would someone care to enlighten any of us who might not have it yet but are looking into it, about speeds (peak and normal), reliability, problems you've had, etc?

    I live in a very rural area and my two choices are 26,400bps dialup or 128kbps ISDN. No Cable/DSL yet (and probably not for another few years). I do a lot of large file transfers (not just MP3, business stuff too) over the internet and it would be nice to have something faster than ISDN.

    So, is Starband worth the upgrade over ISDN?

    I'd really appreciate someone who's actually used Starband to give a nice overview of their experience with the service and the pros and cons.

    Thanks :)
  • I've heard of ML-PPP, but that was just two modems right? Is it really possible to have 3+ modems binded together? I've never heard of that being successful.
  • This is not a dream system, and they aren't marketing it as such. It is designed for people who want a broadband connection, but don't live in an area that supports it. It is an unavoidable fact that the latency is horrible, compared to any other type of connection, but when I can download stuff at 1400 kb/s (almost a freakin' T-1 to my computer, at a fraction of the cost!), I can easily forgive any latency and timeout issues that can arise from time to time.

  • I think my subject says it all.. Here's more info []

    Well, technically it's considered an "investment", but for M$, it's probably more of a down payment on the Microsoft layaway plan...

  • Comment removed based on user account deletion
  • (Don't ask about the StarBand installer, we just told him to kindly 'buzz off'.)

    Can I ask another question or two? How did you configure and align the dish? Did you need to contact them or was the adjustment done through software somehow? I can't imagine you just point it south and turn it on... They let you have your IP and everything with a "Tech" there to authorize the installation?

  • the mac did this 10 years ago.

    It was more like 3 years ago, when the iMac launched.

    Other than that, you're right, of course.
  • by strombrg ( 62192 )
    Vote with your money folks. If they don't support the OS you want to run officially, they don't deserve your money.

    I personally am going to stay with a 56Kbps modem until ADSL comes to town (later this year supposedly), for exactly this reason. I won't do cable modem, because my local cable co. wants to pretend linux doesn't exist. They aren't working hard enough to get my support.

  • Can I mount a StarBand dish antenna on my RV?

    What is an RV?
  • I have read all the other posts - I know that latency sux and that Q3 is impossible (that is the real kicker there, anyway). But,I live out of DSL range and my cable company is slow and in the stone ages.

    I called Starband and spoke with a customer rep (not sure if he even knew what he/I was talking about) and he said "NO!" to WWW, mail, or any other service being hosted from a client machine. All ISPs say that, and some actually filter ports.

    I was wondering if anyone has any real-world experience with Starband and hosting services. Do they kill services, etc? If not, do they perform well at all?

  • Finally, those of us who live out in the middle of nowhere, with 28.8 modems, and use "alternative" operating systems, will be able to enjoy some form of broadband. I thought it was just a wet dream.
  • Granted they may be shitty, but it doesn't mean that they don't have to deny someone service because of their choice of OS. Now whether or not they choose to support that OS is another story, but the denial is what I'm concerned with.
  • The part that disturbs me is...

    "You still need...a MS Operating system to install/commision the hardware though."

    Is this the way of things as it is to be for a long time? Will large companies forever ignore non-mainstream Operating Systems which they don't want to take the time to support, simply because the company producing them can't fork over enough green to sway them otherwise? Granted they are a business and are in it to make money, but wouldn't catering to a larger consumer base be just as effective? Besides, the percentage of people running linux likely to buy their service would be substantialy high given the user proficiency and need for much more bandwidth.

    /me throws two pennies on the table

  • The are setup the same way any DSS is set up. You look up your area code or zip code in a guide somewhere (usually the manual or possibly an on screen automated one) and it tells you the exact direction (in degrees) and elevation to aim your dish using a compass.
  • Doing Tier-1 tech support, you get pretty cynical. Most of our clients, I have to explain where the start menu is. I'm not expecting people to know the ASCII table by heart, but I am expecting them to know basic computing such as what a left-click is.(Not kidding)

    Working with a propriatary system, we don't like people trying to do difficult things with the software. We have specs, and beyond that, most of the "hidden" info is kept at corporate, and isn't shared with us MIS grunts. Even if we wanted to help you (which normaly we don't, cause being in tech support you don't care) we can't, becaue corporate never went to kindergarden, and therfor can't share.

    It is a pity that tech support is such a lowly position these days and they can't attract anyone who cares enough to do a good job anymore.
    Meanwhile they are being paid more than most people will ever make!

    Huh?!? how can such a lowly position get paid more than most people will make? I personaly get paid 33k/year, which is below poverty here in the great city of san francisco.

  • Wouldn't everyone have been better off if they had just included a USB-->Ethernet adapter [] for people without a NIC already in their pc?

    It would have accomplished the same thing and not left non-MS users in the cold.

  • I haven't tried this yet, but I've heard about folks on their beta program.
  • Looks like our favourite Troll doesn't play favourites (and doesn't have a clue) when it comes to operating systems!
  • Doesn't seem to suspect to me. What's the easiest way to make it so that support calls are only about the "official" brand, and thus minimized? Engineer it to be that way, baby! If they had allowed generic usage, then even if they only "officially" supported Windows, then they would still deal with emails and calls, which cost time and money to take care of. This, at least theoretically, limits the problems to actually supported users.
  • Rebooting? While your Windows box may need rebooting often, my gateway box gets rebooted maybe once a month, when I accidentally hit the power switch for that outlet >_< I really need to move the cord to somewhere else. That box is running 98. My ME box is even more sweet, considering it actually does work. No crashes in the past month ^_^
  • Ahhhhhh, You can almost smell the "Cease and Desist" cooking can't you?

    Very cool, as its MS only ways were a big turn off for me, I might someday consider one.

  • Umm, tech support *is* a lowly position, and unless you are referring to third world countries, techs hardly make "more than most people will ever make." I did tech support for a moderately-sized Californian ISP, and made about $1.50/hr more than minimum wage. Tech support is an entry-level position for someone with very little training or experience. Most of the people doing it don't know enough to get a job doing something more in-depth.

    And yes, once they realized I was somewhat clueful I got moved. The clueful people don't stay in tech support, and the people that do stay there generally aren't motivated enough to become clueful.

    We didn't, and still don't, support Linux. I could have supported it, but I would have gotten in trouble. If one support person supports something once, the customer is likely to call back later with a similar problem and whine, "But so-and-so helped me with it before!" So we were forbidden to help with things we didn't officially support. Being the Linux enthusiast that I was I would usually tell customers, "We don't support Linux so I can't help you. But I have your email address here, and when I get home from work I'll send you a note with some helpful URLs in an unofficial capacity if you like." Bad me. :-)
  • We had this exact same problem with the Apple Airport. The response to only being able to adminster the device through MacOS was to write a Java Client.

    I don't see why this solution won't work for this device to register and use it. Once again, slashdot is being completely reactionary. -sigh-

  • >>This is prepakaged with MSN, period. (FEH!!)

    You clearly haven't looked at the web site. If you purchase Starband service from RadioShack with a new PC *then* it's MSN. You can purchase Starband directly or in conjunction with DishNetwork and then the ISP is Starband themselves. Look here [] and here [].

  • Note: Available only in Iowa and Illinois.

  • tachyon [] will. latency over satellite is terrible though..

    Yes yes, we all know that you have high latency with a satellite connection. Perhaps one day we'll have communication laser contact with satellites doing optical routing and it'll get better. In any case, the real problem with Tachyon is that it's expensive.

    The second tachyon retail partner I tried actually had pricing on line. (Never trust an ISP which doesn't have their pricing listed on the website, by the way. If they lower prices later, you may never know, and continue getting shafted.) But here []'s the real kicker; It's US$4250 for the "access point"! (Leasing options available). I wonder what it costs to lease; They don't tell you THAT on the 'net, which is a warning sign. Furthermore, installation is $950! Let me get this straight, you're going to come out to my property and anchor a dish which for that price should be aiming itself, and charging me a thousand dollars for the privilege?

    But here's the really crappy part; The LOWEST level of service (C1-Lite) has a 300K (Is that Kbit, or KByte (note capitalization)? they don't say, of course. Since the downloads go up to 2 Mbps, though, you can see it's just Kbit. Not very exciting, really, since for 300Kbps down and 64Kbps up, you pay US$400 a month (on top of your four grand of hardware and grand of install) and you only get 1GB of bandwidth for the whole month.

    This is ridiculous. The only impressive part is that if you get the expensive version (2.0Mbps down, 256Kbps up) you can actually get two megabits out in the sticks. I'm not horribly impressed by that except that somehow they must be funneling a hundred Mb up to the satellite or something. The high end service lets you get 10GB a month (or is that send? or get OR send?) but it's (get ready for this one) US$2099!

    As much as this service costs, you'd be better off getting, say, half a T1 to someplace which actually has access and has LOS to your location, and then using the Laser-based ethernet to get 1mbps from wherever your T1 is dropped to your house; Microwave is another possibility. While somewhat expensive hardware-wise, you can get 768Kb T1 for around $500/mo if you poke around. You can also get 768K SDSL from Covad (in covered areas) for, uh, much less. They seem to have changed their website around a great deal. They also think DSL is not available in my area, but I have pacbell DSL right now, and Covad's hardware is in the telco, so I happen to know I'm within range.

    BTW, Covad's webpage is indicative of weak management. They have two different forms to check for DSL availability. Oh wow, ANOTHER one just popped up, make that three. This is pretty pathetic. (Then again, so is this stream-of-conciousness /. post.) Okay, so I finally found it. 1.54Mbps SDSL from Covad through [] will cost you [] $335/month.

    Anyway, the whole purpose of this long, rambling, mostly pointless post was to step all over tachyon, which is ridiculously overpriced.

    Oh, and one last comment on tachyon; They want like $500 for a de-icing unit. (I closed the page in disgust already, so I don't know just how much.) But for $500 I'll buy myself a snowsuit and a bucket, and go de-ice it myself.

  • I wonder if there was some sort of payoff by M$ here... If the company had gone "out of its way" to ensure that their service ONLY ran on Microjunk, then there's gotta be a reason. No sane ISP would cut off paying users without a good incentive... One has to wonder, especially in light of some of the things mentioned in 'Halloween Documents' (check out (hyperlink here) []if you've never read them...)
  • As an organisation MS just isn't very bright

    Hence they publicly bragged about things that looked pretty apalling when repeated to a trial judge.

    Given the dysfunctional nature of the company internally it shouldn't be a suprise if the mad dogs within are still playing the same games that always earned them promotion in the past.

  • Anyone know anything about the two way DirecPC. I kinda loyal to hughes.
  • I send a comment in on how I will not use there service until there is Linux support, heres there response. Dear Joseph, Thank you for contacting us! At this time Starband's product range, through a partnership with Microsoft, is currently only configured to operate in Windows based environments. Support for other platforms is under consideration, so this situation could very well change at any time; please check our website periodically for any updates. Once again, thank you for your interest in our product. Regards, Rhonda StarBand Support
    until (succeed) try { again(); }
  • Hate to tell ya, but MS IS behind it. Read futher down to my other post.
    until (succeed) try { again(); }
  • I absolutely agree, I have two way satalitte and it sucks. Everything above said by JAK is true.. get DSL..
  • Linux and MAC users being descriminated against!

    2 years ago would this headline have mentioned macs? I don't think so.

    The upcoming launch of a Unix based Mac OS has fostered a deepening relationship between Linux users and Mac users. Before all we had in common was a distrust of Microsoft's hegemony. Now we have a operating system in common. With the combined communities of Mac and Linux we are unbeatable.

    I want welcome our Mac brothers into Unix family of the new 21st Century. United we stand.

  • I appreciate your criticism. But I would have appreciated it more if it was more than just semantic bickering.

    Unix and the variants that it entails hold common charactoristics that bind all of them together.

    Surely you would admit they have more in common than in difference.

  • I got my ntl cable modem here a couple of months ago. Now the ntlworld dial-up software has to run under Windows, but the cable modem just used DHCP and a webpage to register.
    As with these guys, the FAQ says that they only support W9x and Mac OS, and if you use anything else you're on your own. The tech support guy I spoke to when the first modem didn't work did say though that anything that used just plain onld DHCP would be fine. Sure enough, everything I've tried (after replacing the first modem, faulty when it arrived) worked first time.
    "Not supported" only means that tech support don't have time to answer silly questions from people who should know better.
  • My dear Oscar, such rapier wit!
    Tell you what, come back to the Internet when your balls have dropped.
  • I don't buy this kind of thinking. Most calls to tech support deal with these challenging issues: 1. You have your modem/phone cable reversed going into your modem. 2. Can't figure out what this "right click thingy" is to setup network neighborhood" 3. Monitor isn't plugged in. 4. Customer Complaint "How come this doesn't work like AOL did???" 5. mouse and keyboard connections reversed. See where I'm going? My wife works tech support for a national ISP, and they have received only a couple calls in reference to Linux/BSD. Oh, and those calls were for the ISP's network settings, not tech support issues.
  • The only usb device that I have found is better then using the traditional the port is scanners.
    What are you talking about? Traditional port for scanner would be SCSI, and I never had problems with SCSI scanners...
  • You are speaking from a UNIX perspective. I, however, speak from a free software perspective. Apple has done nothing to help the free software community, in fact with its licensing of the 1-Click Patent it has done much to harm freedom. Apple has used no Linux technology in its new OS, which is BSD based. Most importantly none of it, even Darwin is free. [].

    Face it, does anyone think that Apple would behave much different if they had the monopoly (bear in mind their treatment of clone makers)? Nope, neither do I.

  • pth, GNNU zealot.

    You can use ASPL software as you wish, the only restriction is you can't include copyrighted code with the distribution or else you'll get Apple in hot water.

    Your problem is with Apple choosing BSD over Linux. Linux was never an option. Darwin is a far better kernel IMO, especially the IOKit, NKE, and module architecture. No recompiling modules for every kernel release here.
    >80 column hard wrapped e-mail is not a sign of intelligent
  • So (basically) they're "saying" that the Services "sux0rs" for anything other than regular web browsing?

    I'd take a HSP 56K Winmodem over this crap any day. I'd imagine I get lower pings with more reliable connections too.
  • Whoa there! An actual 'tech support line' person want you to stop flaming MS because of how HARD it is to diagnose those pesky MS problems with things? Let's be real a second...In the last, oh, ...50 calls you have made to a 'tech support line' just how many of those people on the other end of the phone were actually able to 'diagnose' anything for you?
  • This is totally untrue. No ISP would specifically prevent any 'paying user' from their service. They would just say that they don't support any OSs other than Windows. This way anyone can use their service and they don't have to do any more training for their tech support people.

    There is almost certainly a "deal" between this company and Microsoft.
  • My girlfriend got StarBand during their pilot program. She lives outside Woodstock, NY. I spend weekends up there and have logged quite a bit of time behind her Sat. connection, and was also there taking part in the installation.

    Personally, I can't imagine I could ever get serious work done over StarBand as it currently is. It's been flakey: I'd say she's had about 95% availability (it's been completely out for the last four days and now she's waiting for a technician to be dispatched), though I _believe_ the outages have been mostly associated with her dish and/or the PC+Software from StarBand.

    My main issues however are with the Latency, Networking other machines through it, and the proxy/performance-enhancing software they install. Latency is as others keep saying, pretty bad. You click a link in a Web page, and sit there for a couple seconds before the browser even begins to show signs of receiving data. Next, though we did manage to network several other computers using a Hub and Apple's Airport, StarBand supplies their systems with some software which provides very limited proxy support, but also attempts to boost the speeds and decrease the latency. Unfortunately, that proxy has configurations for pop/smtp servers, nntp, http, ftp and a single "free port". So her and I having our mail accounts on separate servers, have to go in and change the POP setting in that software, then restart the software to switch between email accounts. Next, while I've managed to route that free proxy port to one of my unix machines for telnet, telnet is basically unusable. Really unusable! And you can basically forget about ever running any kind of daemon process and letting the outside world connect to it. Before anyone rails on me that StarBand isn't for hosting servers, let me point out I'm not talking about that. I just mean if you were doing some App Server work for a client and wanted to let them connect to your mobile development box to see the work, forget it. Consider that even modem connections offer this. I've read other users' comments regarding replacing their proxy with WinProxy, et al. But I've very reluctant to try this since it's her connection to the world and I don't want to be responsible for foobaring it.

    In summary, I had great hopes for this service when I learned she was getting it, cause I too would like to escape the high-priced metropolitan areas and get my little ranch in the Catskills or somewhere, but I've realized now that's not gonna happen with StarBand, and probably not with any two-way satellite connection.
  • ...on them for not making it compatible with all OSes in the first place. Doesnt seem like a good business plan, but ohh well.
  • Basically a CAmper with Wheels and an engine.
  • by pb ( 1020 )
    Use it for automated, batched transfers. Use it for mail and newsgroups. Maybe use it for ftping large files.

    But for god's sake, don't use it to browse the web, unless you plan to use your web browser like an Off-Line Reader...
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • I don't like this. Winmodems are only compatible with Windows because they rely on Windows for firmware. But this requires Windows for no apparent reason

    No, it's because if you offload tasks from hardware to software, you can make cheaper modems, and most PCs have CPU to spare.

    I'm sure that when Red Hat are in a position to offer cash subsidies to hardware manufacturers, you will see much better Linux support.

  • Windows may not make a great workstation OS, but it's just fine if you're running some network daemons in the background on it and don't fiddle directly.

    Yeah, there's a sentence I had to read twice!
  • Exactly. I personally can't see why anyone would opt for this given other choices. 500ms latency best case scenario is just not going to cut it for anyone who gives 1/2 a damn about their Internet experience.
  • by JAK ( 6169 )
    I don't know about Starband, but DirecPC, by default, will set up a proxy server as part of it's install. This is supposed to allow you to capture broadcasts of "popular" websites so you can browse them entirely offline. You select from a list of 30 or sites they broadcast and set limits on disk space.

    Problem is, the damn software doesn't work for crap. First thing that most DPC users learn is to turn off the proxying entirely otherwise you'll see tons of broken images, 404's, etc, etc. In short, DirecPC's software seems to be buggy.

    They also broadcast newsgroups (again, you're basically setting up a news server on your box), but what they broadcast (from what I've seen) is several days old.

    Protocols are switchable to be terrestrial only (e.g., DNS) for those things that don't require bandwidth and where low latency is critical.

    I haven't tried it yet, but from what I've elsewhere, VPN and the like becomes virtually unusable over satellite.

    OTOH, downloads can fly during off-peak hours and when using a download accelerator I've seen 100-150K/sec speeds (bytes).

  • by eMBee ( 27441 )
    you are missing the point.
    the goal of usb is to make ps/2, paralell and serial ports go away, and replace them with one general solution.
    the mac did this 10 years ago.
    needing half a dozend different ports to support a dozend different devices is just plain bad design and very sad.
    (using usb for computer networking is a different matter, if that is a good idea remains to be seen)

    greetings, eMBee.

  • No it wouldn't. Although you could stick this on your van, if you turned a corner it would stop working. The dish depends on being pointed due-south; it's pretty picky.
  • This reminds me of a similar instance here, when a new 'free' ISP gave out dialup software that would run under windows only. Me and a friend cracked this by setting up a ppp server running on his m/c in linux and dumping and observing the packets rcvd. We found out that the only thing this dialup software did was to append a single constant character to the password while sending it (cleartext of course) to the server.
    Most of these and similar instances should not be seen as deliberate attempts to undermine OSos's or anything but in this competetive market, the person who releases the product first is at an advantage and in that case it makes sense for them to ship software only for a familiar, easy to develop, large mkt share OS than for a niche market..
    they'll probably release the linux versions later.
  • Lessee here - I git onna dose ol'fangle-type chinese south-pointin' carts, and hitch it to de back o' my car - den throw the dish on top of dat!

    Smile - I'm trying to be humorous here...


    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • Anyone in a metropolitan area will be better off checking out Cable/DSL/Sprint ION (if that ever shows up within the next forty months or so and is not overly priced).

    I just did check out Sprint ION, and it seems like quite a deal. I'm not sure about Sprint, I've gotten some bad impressions of them in the past, and the service is via Earthlink, which also has its share of issues. But still, its quite a deal for what you pay for. 2 phone lines, including local and long distance, and a 8.0Mb/1.0Mb ADSL line for $120. Thats by far the fastest upstream I've seen on any ADSL and beats out every 1.1 SDSL price I've ever seen. I just called Sprint and they said that the service is available in "the midwest and west coast, and is moving eastward." Don't know what that means for me here in Boston, but it definitely looks like its worth a peek
  • tachyon [] will. latency over satellite is terrible though..

  • we have it here, and as long as you don't use telnet and/or ssh, it's quite good. speed is good. a 2 second latency sucks though, but you'll have that with any sat link.

  • Those things aren't magic either. I setup my sister's machine to use the one I carried home over christmas -- over an hour later, the damn thing was passing traffic.

    "Dialup Networking" is much easier to deal with.
  • This attitude kills me!

    I had a very similar conversation with tech support at in southern ontario about their DSL service. I was calling to try and find out what my options were for creating an airport network through their pppoe DSL service. The network guy just said "sorry we don't do networking and I will not even listen to you"

    So I hit the boards and found out how to set it up in a couple of hours. Pretty simple, there is only one configuration that works with their service.........I thought to myself....this guy should be paid to know this stuff. He should have recognized from my questions that he could learned something himself in our interaction but no, he is looking for any excuse not to help the customer. It is a pity that tech support is such a lowly position these days and they can't attract anyone who cares enough to do a good job anymore.

    Meanwhile they are being paid more than most people will ever make! I guess the attitude is that "i don't care whether this company makes it, I don't like being nice to people, I would rather be playing diablo than talking to the scum of the earth.......fools"
  • Okay, lay off saying how evil it is that this company's product only works with MS Windows. Working technical support, I know how hard it can be to fix problems on MS platforms. I can't imagine what a nightmare it would be to have to do it for Linux as well.

    Besides, anyone wise enough to use Linux will be wise enough to avoid using a satellite modem anyways. So really, its all kind of academic. :)

  • I just mean if you were doing some App Server work for a client and wanted to let them connect to your mobile development box to see the work, forget it. Consider that even modem connections offer this. I've read other users' comments regarding replacing their proxy with WinProxy, et al. But I've very reluctant to try this since it's her connection to the world and I don't want to be responsible for foobaring it.

    But on the other hand, you could keep a server elsewhere (colo, friend, etc) for clients to access or dial up when required. The only option I have at the moment is a somewhat flaky analogue line and let me tell you, I hunger for bandwidth. I've worked with high latency connections before (UK->US used to be terrible some days), even with telnet. The trick is to develop locally, deploy remotely. I would love DSL or cable but I wouldn't move to a city to get it. However, although my plans at the moment involve me living in the sticks, the maturation of my five year plan will see me trawling around the backwoods of TN trying to find somewhere that suits my lifestyle and has DSL/cable (though hopefully by then, it will be much more ubiquitous)


  • Here is a repost of a post from the Starband forum on Delphi From: MWARCHUT Jan-4 11:48 am To: LANNYH1 3 of 3 613.3 in reply to 613.2 First you need a dead chicken, some holy water and a virgin. But seriously it was quite easy. After I got the dish all set and commisioned it. I shut it down and removed the USB ethernet card since linux doesn't work with it. I then used a crossover cable to connect the 180 to eth0 and set eth0 to the second address of the /30 subnet that is assigned to the 180 by the hub or if you want to wait for the bootup you could use DHCP instead. I then setup eth1 to a private network address and tied it into my home networking. I setup ip masquerading on the linux box and repointed all the internal PC's to the eth1 interface on the Linux box. This is all you need to get masquerading going on a fairly current version of Linux.. I use Redhat 7.0 /sbin/depmod -a /sbin/modprobe ip_masq_ftp echo "1" > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward echo "1" > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_always_defrag /sbin/ipchains -M -S 7200 10 160 /sbin/ipchains -P forward REJECT /sbin/ipchains -A forward -i eth0 -s -j MASQ I even have a 3com Ergo Audrey on my kitchen counter that is working via starband. I have one pc in my local network running the IPA software and it is proxying for all the other equipment so the performance is good.. I did some large downloads via linux last night and a 35 meg file only took about 6 minutes or so.. not too shabby.
  • This attitude kills me!

    Try being a TS lead. I was for a few years, and that folks is the limit for anyone not on medication. A normal front end support tech with one+ years experience is not a well individual and probably not good at actually helping anyone except in the morning and just after lunch.

    The typical tech goes from excited and helpful -- and clueless -- to knowledgeable and couldn't give a damn. Answer 50 to over 200 calls a day for six months, and I doubt that you'll get any different reaction.

    My role was to occasionaly man the phones to keep sharp, but mostly to answer hard questions that the front-end support couldn't figure out. The front end support people frequently didn't look in the database for answers.

    Then, there's policy. For software -- and an ISP's support department handles software problems most of the time -- the cost of handling this type of question is just as high per minute as other calls. Unfortunately, it takes more time. You, as a customer, are given only a few seconds or minutes for support. If the tech does not handle enough calls per day, they are chewed out for basically doing good customer support. Why? One call answered well eats into the allocated time for other calls...and it is tightly monitored; from hang-ups, calls per product, type of questions asked, ...all with an eye on how to reduce the time the tech -- not you -- spend on the question or problem. Yes, this sucks.

    The prefered way to handle this would be to have links on a company web site to the information you want, plus an automated fax system. That way the time spent on the phone by the tech is reduced to just telling the customer where they need to go. Most companies also opt for the annoying 'Did you look elsewhere?' message while you are waiting in the queue. Extending the queue time also 'helps' keep the calls shorter and eliminates the frequent callers since they know that there is a cost for a 'free' call. (That's right, it pays to be annoying and to anger people.)

    Unfortunately, answering these questions often (30%~) leads to follow up questions and more phone time. It's also deceptive. Once you give out the information for people to help themselves, the type of calls become much more complex...and time consuming.

    Yet, PHB CIO/CEOs only see the cost per call increasing...not that there are fewer calls per customer. In one way, the PHBs are right. The number of calls per customer doesn't decrease _that_ much...yet each call requires a more experienced tech. ...and each tech lasts from 6-9 months. Thus the quality of each call goes down the harder you try to increase overall quality.

    That's why you get a tech who doesn't want to answer certian questions. It isn't worth it to anyone in the chain -- from the tech through the CEO.

  • First of all lets get one thing straight. I live way out of town, cable tv is not even a option and probably will never be. The phone lines a total crap 19200 max speed. I had a direcpc and it did a fairly good job for me. I was offered a beta tester spot with starband about 4 months ago and took it. If you live in the sticks it is a great option. If you have dsl or cable stick with it, if that is not going to be a option then fire up the ole dish and point it south
  • Here are some more things that are interesting to look over. This is prepakaged with MSN, period. (FEH!!) Games and other high bandwidth activities are problematic at best. They are really really picky about doing the satellite installation themselves. (I guess it is really fine tuned, since you are also transmitting to the bird) If the only choice I had was MSN or no net, I'd move to a city.

    What scares me the most is the question about wanting to put it on an RV.

    Can I do my own installation?
    No. A professional installation by a StarBand certified installer is required. Because this is a two-way system - the dish antenna both receives from and transmits to the satellite - the installation must be very precise, and we do not offer the option of self-installs. If you are not a StarBand-certified installer and you perform your own installation or even a portion of the installation, you will void any applicable installation warranty and service warranty.

    What is required in a StarBand installation?
    The StarBand installation process is very similar to the standard small-dish satellite television installation process, except that it involves a slightly larger antenna and two coaxial cables running from the dish to the computer. In addition, because the StarBand service both sends and receives content via satellite, the dish pointing process requires greater precision, as compared to receive-only satellite television offerings. (See "Can I do my own installation?" above)

    I have received my equipment, and I am anxious to get it up and running. Can I go ahead and set up the computer before the installer arrives?
    No. We would ask that you leave all of the equipment boxed and wait for the installer to unpack it once he or she arrives. By installing any portion of the system yourself, you will void any applicable installation warranty and service warranty.

    Can I mount a StarBand dish antenna on my RV?
    Not at this time. Because the StarBand antenna not only receives from but also transmits to the satellite, the installation must be performed with extra precision and in accordance with FCC standards. The installation process requires accurate positioning by the installer of the azimuth, elevation, and skew settings for the antenna, and then a phone call to our Installer Help Desk for additional fine-tuning of these and other settings through tools available only at our satellite uplinking facility.

    Are there any applications that will work differently in the StarBand network?
    Yes. Certain applications do not perform efficiently in a satellite-delivered environment, such as voice/video over IP, VPN services, certain online interactive games (particularly "shooter" games that depend on split-second responsiveness for the "survival" of the player), and applications that use non-TCP/IP protocols (such as IPX/SPX).

  • Winmodems exist BECAUSE THEY'RE CHEAPER. Most of the time the end consumer doesn't know the difference because all they use the computer for is Web surfing (and occasionally word processing)
    Do you think the average user is going to pay extra for a hardware-based modem of which will be little apparent benefit?

    You see Winmodems in the "$899 with ONE YEAR OF AOL INCLUDED" Dell ads.
  • I have no idea whether or not MS paid anyone off, but the fact is that quite a few ISPs and other companies 'cut off paying users' who don't use Windows.

    The #1 reason isn't Microsoft payoffs but support costs. It costs money to train and/or hire people that can properly support alternate operating systems..And, since Microsoft Windows has a ridiculous share of the desktop market share, it would often cost more for the company to bother supporting an alt-OS than they would make back by sales/fees from the people using alt-OSes.

    And..while it seems that a company with common sense should just allow people with alt-OSes to use their products, if possible, and just refuse support, hardly any do this. My guess is they fear that people with unsupported systems will still seek support, and the overhead from driving them away will cost them.

  • As another poster points out, satellite is only a viable option if you have no other choice. The latency is just too high because of the distance the signal must travel, and no amount of technology is going to change that, unless, of course, we can get around that pesky speed of light. Having said that, my one brief experience with using Starband wasn't that bad. However, when I was telling this to a network tech friend of mine, he said that another tech had looked at the Starband config and found that they are using caching. If true, this would make some amount of sense, since it'd move the data a little closer to the end user. Still, I don't like caching, since you can never be sure if the page you're getting is current. Can anyone out there confirm or deny that this is going on, and, if it is, can a user choose not to use the cache servers?
  • by tolldog ( 1571 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @10:34PM (#521652) Homepage Journal
    I see a few problems with your comments.
    1)Your issue with lack of support.
    They provide a servide. They support that service. Try calling Ford about the diesel engine you dropped in your brand new Tarus. I am positive it will no longer be covered in a bumper to bumper waranty.
    Just because you want them to provide or support a service does not mean that they do or should have to.

    2)The attitude that the help desk should spend his time learning from your call. He has other customers, those staying inside the box that are on hold. He should help them first. Had you called at 4:30 am, it might have been different. Also, if a company thinks it is worth the tech guys time to learn about an alternate way of using them, they would send him to a class.

    3)Thee fact that they get paid tons of money.
    I imagine that the person is not rolling in the dough as you suggest. If this was a first level tech guy, I am almost positive. Not to knock the job, cause I value good support people, but I don't see it as one of the more desirable jobs, which brings me to my last problem.

    4)The negative attitude that they had against you.
    I have a feeling from your post, that you may not have handled the situation well, I know you aren't now, it is very negative and bitter. This attitude shows on the phone more than people know.

    To summarize, I think you need to take a deep breath, realize that they had a job which they did. Maybe they didn't respond all rosey about the whole thing, but they could of had a long day. Now that you know how to do what you want, do something about it. Put together a reffernce page to tell others how to do what you did, maybe even a HOW-TO. After it is done, and done well, send it along to the support email address for the service provider. Maybe they will add support when they see how easy it is, you never know.
    Keep a positive attitude with them, it will help in the long run.

  • by eMBee ( 27441 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @09:07PM (#521653) Homepage
    but that is exactly what they did.
    a builtin USB-->Ethernet adapter
    granted, they could have used an external one, (actually i got such a beast with my cable modem a year ago).
    but, that's an extra device, more difficoult to use (and just plain annoying: why should i have an extra device when i can have it built in)
    the fact that the USB-->Ethernet adapter conflicts with the ethernet-card is bad design (very bad) and thus just plain stupid, but it does not contitute a malicious act.
    and not thinking about linux is just short sighted, nothing more.

    greetings, eMBee.

  • by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @08:27AM (#521654) Homepage
    I'm thinking I may have to go for this service. I live out in the sticks and there is no DSL, Intermedia recently took the internet-capable equipment out from round here and swapped it with another county that had crap equipment, Bellsouth analogue craps out at 5:30pm every day for a couple of hours and trying to get ISDN installed, we've get told after buying all the equipment that areaplus (increased local dialling range) is not available for ISDN and my ISP is outside the local area. That and although flat rate ISDN is supposed to be avaialble in TN, they keep taking about milage bands.

    Anyway, I basically need a good reliable internet connection, latency is not a big issue but transfer speeds are the faster the better. Do Starband have static IPs available or is it all dynamic?


  • by Fat Rat Bastard ( 170520 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @08:09PM (#521655) Homepage
    Doesnt seem like a good business plan

    Sure it does... in fact, that's why they've done it. Support Costs. They only have to train their market droids / help desk helmets on a few specific systems. I'm not saying its right, but they way they look at it MS has the dominant marketshare so they'll go with Windows. Remember who this is being market to.

    Now, if they were really savvy they would have some "this is unofficial and we won't support it, but if you want to hook up to Linux/*BSD/BeOS/MacOS/Atari 800xl here's how you do it / here's a link to someone else who's done it... just don't call us if you have any problems." I would think that would be the least they could do.

  • by Chuck Flynn ( 265247 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @08:15PM (#521656)
    Once you've done this modification and voided your warranty, you're SOL when the service gets upgraded and you're left behind. I'm surprised people are willing to do this kind of thing when others are spending all kinds of money to protect [] their devices.

    If I had to choose between spending a thousand dollars on a new device when I broke mine or a thousand dollars on a new windows box I could network to my other computer and run as a gateway, I'd rather choose the latter: at least that way, you get something tangible out of it. Windows may not make a great workstation OS, but it's just fine if you're running some network daemons in the background on it and don't fiddle directly. I've done it just fine.
  • by JAK ( 6169 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @08:07PM (#521657)
    I've been playing around with MTU and RWIN pretty frequently, but haven't noticed much difference between an RWIN of ~32K and 64K...matter of fact, really haven't noticed a diff at all.

    According to the standard formula you'll find on sites like dslreports [], I should be running with an RWIN of like 500K (terrible terrible latency averages around 800ms).

    From what I've read elsewhere, my experiences aren't unique. With the wild variance of bandwidth you'll see on satellite, with latency swinging from 500ms on the low end up to 1500, the registry tweaks are only going to give moderate increases.

  • by jonbrewer ( 11894 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @08:01PM (#521658) Homepage
    Before anyone jumps on Starband over their support for only Win 98+, have a look at a bit from their rather intelligent FAQ:

    "Our Help Desk does not support networking questions and issues, so if you want to try networking with our system, you do so at your own risk, and we recommend that you first make sure that you have access to technical support through other sources. You will be charged by StarBand for any maintenance / repair / support services provided by StarBand due to problems resulting from your networking activities. While we do not yet provide a "StarBand-approved" networking solution, users have done it successfully."

    They say "our Help Desk does not support..." Then they say "make sure you have access to technical support through other sources."

    It sounds pretty clueful to me. Their Help Desk has enough trouble supporting Win9x, and they certainly don't need to be helping some 15YO with his Mac or Linux problems. (having worked tech support I have some pretty strong opinions.) But they do say networking has been done, and they don't explicitly ban the practice, like many other broadband providers.
  • by Robotech_Master ( 14247 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @10:08PM (#521659) Homepage Journal
    What options are there for rural users, though? i.e., so rural you can't even get cable TV, and your address is "Route X, Box YY", and you're about 15 miles away from the nearest town (which only has a population of a couple thousand)? That's where my parents are right now, and they're stuck with a 33.6 modem. Granted, they haven't expressed any desire to upgrade--yet--but someday they might. What's there for them other than satellite?
  • by eMBee ( 27441 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @08:22PM (#521660) Homepage
    what exactly indicates that they have gone out of their way to stop linux from working?

    they use USB surely to avoid having to add a networkcard to the users pc. considering that all machines come with USB nowadays, but not necessarily with a networkcard, this is a GOOD IDEA.

    and it is definetly not their problem that linux USB support is not up to par.

    before anyone complains about lacking linux-support by this company, test the USB support in linux first (and then help get it finished)

    greetings, eMBee.

  • by Huusker ( 99397 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @07:57PM (#521661) Homepage

    The easiest way to quickly boost the performance of your satellite link to is kick up your TCP window maximum segment size (MSS). The MSS determinates the amount of data sent per round trip.

    On NT and W9x the MSS defaults to a pathetic 8KB. On Windows 2000 it defaults to 17KB, which is not much better. MS does not provide a documented way to change the MSS using the GUI. However you can hack the registry [] to boost the MSS to the max (0xFFFF = 65535) for a decent speedup. However, beware of the infamous 64240 byte bug [] in Windows 2000 and the equally infamous "windo" typo [] in Windows 98.

  • by Johnny Grep ( 255289 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2001 @12:09AM (#521662)
    Following instructions I initially read about on a Delphi satellite forum (linked somewhere in here), I successfully configured my StarBand reciever at my friend's place using standard ethernet, where he has no cable or landline phone service. He's quite deep in the woods. To make everything worse, his house is located where there is no clear sight to the south, but he did have a tower set up 200 meters away from his house where his HAM repeater/antenna is placed.

    So here's what we did: We placed the StarBand dish on the tower, but we needed to get the signal to the house somehow. In the box where all his repeater equipment was housed, we put the 180 in there and hooked it up (via ethernet) to a Lucent WaveLAN transmitter to send the data from the tower to his house. (Thank god there was a line of sight between the antenna and the house in question.) Then, on the recieving end, we hooked up the home WaveLAN antenna/Orinoco card to an OpenBSD server set up as a firewall/wireless bridge (following some instructions we saw somewhere about obsd and WaveLAN) and then networked it using good old RJ-45 to his 3-pc LAN. Yes, he's a total NUT, I've told him that numerous times, but he absolutely wanted internet access at his wood cabin.

    And yes, latency is EXTREMELY HORRIBLE at his place. But he has internet access and he's happy.

    (Don't ask about the StarBand installer, we just told him to kindly 'buzz off'.)
  • by JAK ( 6169 ) on Monday January 08, 2001 @07:21PM (#521663)
    I've been using DirecPC for the past month and a half, and I'll just say that using satellite should be your last choice, IMHO. Latency is bad enough on one-way, and on two way it basically kills anything other than straight browsing and FTP's. Bandwidth can drop to modem speeds. Do yourself a favor and research the experience of current users before ya take the plunge. If you can get cable or DSL (even at a higher cost), you'll probably be much happier...if you have no other options at all, satellite can be a decent, though often frustrating service.

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur