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Mozilla The Internet

Does Comcast Hate Firefox? 676

destinyland writes "Comcast is the largest ISP in America. And they're requiring Internet Explorer for installations — even if you're using a Mac. The Comcast homepage even specifies that the page is optimized for IE 5.5 (which was released in 2000), and 'is not optimized for Firefox browsers and Macs.' With 13 million subscribers, you'd think they could spring for a web developer who could handle multiple browsers. (From the last line of the article: 'I'm afraid to ask how Comcast handles Linux...')"
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Does Comcast Hate Firefox?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:44AM (#19899369)
    They hate their customers.
    • by timelorde ( 7880 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:46AM (#19899387)
      The feeling is mutual.
      • by Cpt_Kirks ( 37296 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:15AM (#19899725)
        When Comcast took over here, I had to hold my nose and switch to AT&T DSL. So far, so good...

        The way Comcast handles customers stinks. They had a app that is supposed to switch your email address and set up your account in Outhouse. It does a dandy job of changing your homepage and putting a bunch of tool-bar trash in IE, but can't quite handle the email part. It just dies at that point. I had to go clean up after it on my mom's computer.

        Smegging Comcrap tried to spin the email address change as a good thing in their commercials, "Oh, goody, time to change your email!".

      • ..don't they eventually leave each other?

        I changed ISPs because my decent one was swallowed up by TELUS which royally messed up my nice little setup--they warned me that it would happen, but didn't say exactly what would happen or exactly when.

        I went with "basic small business service" from a company called Radiant--it is the same kind of DSL, largely riding on the same TELUS networks, but Radiant does the admin. I get multiple fixed IPs, no ridiculous bandwidth caps, and tech support is staffed with actua
    • by m0ok1e ( 872075 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @10:17AM (#19900533)
      I used to work for Comcast in the tech-support area, (I just couldn't find a job out of college and a couple of my HS drop-out buddies worked there) The whole company is retarded, they don't let qualified people advance, and reward not those who truely help the customers or find problems but those with short call times, and brown-nosers. It's really sad that I almost got into trouble for spending 30 minutes helping an elderly man figure out how to use his computer and install his internet properly when I was supposed to "Refer him to the company he bought the computer from and tell him to call back." When I was working there I found some problems with some of the software they were using and a few security loopholes in the subscriber web pages, I reported it to my supervisor and was thanked with a "I'm sure they are aware of it..." Thank god I got out of there, and if I hadn't worked there and still had friends who could give me some insanely cheap deals for a long time, I would have dropped their service all together, and don't let me get started on the tech's that end up going to your houses, it's like they just don't care who they hire
  • My experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IL-CSIXTY4 ( 801087 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:45AM (#19899385) Homepage
    I ran Linux when I last had Comcast installed. They asked "do you have *any* computer here with Windows? We can't do this without Windows." Of course, this was when they were using those stupid install CDs.
    • Re:My experience (Score:5, Informative)

      by toleraen ( 831634 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:50AM (#19899439)
      Last time I had Comcast over to hook up my service, the only computer I had set up was my MythTV box. The guy installing it made a few phone calls, and 15 minutes later I was set up. I dunno if they're just lazy or what, but it's definitely possible without it.
      • Re:My experience (Score:5, Informative)

        by garcia ( 6573 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:05AM (#19899607)
        The guy installing it made a few phone calls, and 15 minutes later I was set up. I dunno if they're just lazy or what, but it's definitely possible without it.

        They have to call in to the office and have them register your modem's MAC and the ethernet card's MAC with the system. Generally this is done via a web interface that has weird proxy settings to get to the registration server. The techs that require that CD (and it could vary from day to day depending on what management's feeling like) may not know any better, may be told they require Windows that day, or they might just be lazy -- as you said.
        • Re:My experience (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) * on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:25AM (#19899841) Journal
          When I hooked up Comcast about 2 years ago, I got a self install kit, plugged it in to my router, waited 5 minutes, called the office and gave them my phone number, and I was off and away. Since then I've switched the modem out once and used 3 different MAC addresses (new router, and connected directly to my computer sometimes to troubleshoot) and never had a problem. If they authorized access by MAC none of that would have worked.
          • Re:My experience (Score:5, Informative)

            by garcia ( 6573 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:44AM (#19900079)
            When I hooked up Comcast about 2 years ago, I got a self install kit, plugged it in to my router, waited 5 minutes, called the office and gave them my phone number, and I was off and away. Since then I've switched the modem out once and used 3 different MAC addresses (new router, and connected directly to my computer sometimes to troubleshoot) and never had a problem. If they authorized access by MAC none of that would have worked.

            It depends per market. They aren't all the same due to the purchase of smaller markets. You might be in a market that doesn't have MAC auth.
          • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

            by niiler ( 716140 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @10:11AM (#19900427) Journal

            I too did a self-install with my Linux systems. I called, just as you, read off some serial numbers and was up and rolling.

            Unfortunately, at one point they changed *something*, and all http requests were re-routed to the comcast website. I called Customer Service and was told that my computer was not communicating with the internet and that I had to change something via Windows control panel. I told them that I was not running windows and this did not even register with the tech support person. She kept going from the script as if I hadn't even spoken! I was very polite at first telling her something to the effect that: "Ma'am, I'm sorry, I am not running a Windows operating system. My computers can clearly see the internet because I can get to the comcast homepage. You just need to unblock the MAC address of my cable modem. (PLEASE!)" She continued to go on like she couldn't here me. When I finally said: "Can I please speak with your superior?", she asked "Why? Has your customer service been less than satisfactory?" and then started fighting with me to talk to someone else. I finally did talk to a superior who fixed my problem, although *she* didn't understand that there were operating systems other than Windows. She basically asked me why I couldn't just follow the first woman's directions.

            Another time I had the same problem, I called in and the problem was fixed immediately (I did not mention Linux, and simply asked if they could reset my cable modem).

            In short, customer service at Comcast is windows-centric, follows scripts as opposed to understanding any technology, and is hit or miss in the satisfaction department depending on who you get on the line.

            • Re:My experience (Score:5, Interesting)

              by SomeoneGotMyNick ( 200685 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @11:00AM (#19901185) Journal
              I had to recover my connection after the service was accidentally shut off. Everything was working fine before. I had a Linux box acting as my router, so that machine was the one connected to the cable modem. After the service was restored, I got the same Comcast redirection stating "My operating system is not supported". However, I could still surf the net from any computer routed through the Linux box. Very weird. I still couldn't surf directly from the Linux router. Knowing how much time I would waste on a tech support call, I found that if I set up a proxy on the Linux box, and set my browser to localhost for the proxy server, I was able to surf on that machine. I don't know the mechanism behind it, but it's still strange I can't surf from the Linux machine directly, but I can surf from that machine through a proxy server running on the same machine.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by David_W ( 35680 )

              In short, customer service at Comcast is windows-centric, follows scripts as opposed to understanding any technology, and is hit or miss in the satisfaction department depending on who you get on the line.

              I have a counter-story to this I found rather funny. One time when I was having a problem with my modem, I called in to tech support. As usual, they asked what OS I was running. When I responded "FreeBSD," rather than them saying it wasn't supported and giving me the runaround, the tech said "Oh, well

    • Re:My experience (Score:4, Informative)

      by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:52AM (#19899471) Homepage Journal
      Ditto, except that the last time I had Comcast installed, they they were still using the stupid install CDs, and this was less than 2 years ago. It was the only way to get your modem 'configured' for the network.

      Only this time, my wife called Comcast and made the mistake of telling them we're running Linux. I wanted to kill her. But the nice tech on the phone actually said "Oh, ok. I can't do anything, but I can have your cable modem configured from remote." And this time they actually did it. I was at least somewhat impressed that they didn't just throw up their hands and say "we don't support you."

      As far as Firefox goes -- yes, those stupid install CDs require IE 5.5 or later. They will not work on ANY box that doesn't have IE 5.5, not even a Windows 98 box with IE 5.0 on it. The Comcast start page *does* work okay with Firefox, however, provided you have the latest Flash player installed. There are a few minor rendering difficulties at times, however.

      • Although I'm running Windows XP, and I have been a Comcast customer for nearly 3 years, I have never once used the install CD's - they've always configured my cable modem remotely. Never had a problem.

        That installer that requires IE doesn't appear to actually be necessary.
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
      Whay do you need to "install" anything? This isn't 1991, when you had to get a floppy with Trumpet Winsock to log on to your ISP via a 14k modem. Isn't it PPPoE, built into all modern OS? Excuse my ignorance if it's something more esoteric. If TFA actually gave any hard information I might have been able to work that out.
      • Whay do you need to "install" anything?

        The techs like to use a CD installer which uses Internet Explorer to configure the cable modem. In my experience, however, it doesn't actually appear to be necessary. I've gone through the process twice, and I just stay on the phone with a tech and give them some numbers from the bottom of the modem and they configure it remotely. No need for a CD-based installer.
      • 14K modem in 1991, I'm impressed - how much did it cost?
      • by Bandman ( 86149 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `namdnab'> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:34AM (#19899937) Homepage
        You just described my introduction to the internet, circa 1996 on Windows 3.1.

        2 days of sitting in front of Trumpet Winsock twiddling options, 15 years old, never having heard of so much as an IP address. I will never forget the moment it worked. It was like magic. It was ethereal. It took me 20 minutes to find my first porn site ;-)

    • Re:My experience (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alchemar ( 720449 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:18AM (#19899751)
      I have run into the same problem with DSL through various phone companies and Roadrunner through Time Warner. I found the easiest solution is to set up an old win98 computer and let them install all the spyware crap they want onto it, then go write down the settings that they said could not be installed manually, and had to be installed with a windows installation disk. Plug those into my XP and Linux machines. Once I have verfied everything is running and that I will not need to call them for technical support, I will format the win98 machine.

      I don't know if it is an issue anymore, but I always made sure that I told the company I did not have a USB port. They still came in and plugged a USB Only, Windows only modem in. After that, I make sure the computer does not have any working USB ports so that when it doesn't work, they are forced to read the ticket, then go back and grab a modem with an ethernet port that can be installed on a linux system or a router.
    • I've never had to install anything for any internet service. Usually they have stuff you can install, but never have I actually had to install anything. Ethernet cable gets plugged from Cable/DSL modem into your computer or router and that's it. DSL usually requires a couple more things like setting up your username and password, but I have never been required to install any software that wasn't actually already part of the operating system.
  • by vigmeister ( 1112659 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:46AM (#19899391)
    The guys who come to wire your house need to be able to configure your computer. Just ask the guy for the DNS servers if it doesn't just work when you hook it up. After this you should be on your way (atleast that is all that I remember I needed from him). You don't actually need to run the software - It's just that the well intentioned installer guys (who 'forget' to lock the TV signal for a nominal fee) can't really be expected to be networking gurus. or even novices.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jkiol ( 1050424 )
      They don't need to configure your computer, what they want to do is run an application that configures the cable modem and registers it. They used to do this with their own laptop, but now they just give you those damn CDs. Usually this means also disconnecting any firewall you have in between the cable modem and the computer as well. If you connect a computer to the cable modem and open the address (if memory serves me) in a browser I believe you'll get the modem configuration/status.
    • I've never had any problems at all running Linux with Comcast. Of course, I don't run their software either, and probably wouldn't even if I were running Windows. To Linux it's just an ethernet connection, and if you have the usual necessary info (e.g., DNS server addresses) you're fine. When they install it they do make a big thing about Linux not being "supported", but there's really nothing you'll ever need their "support" for. The connection is either up or it isn't.
  • I work for Comcast. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:46AM (#19899397)

    1) No, I'm a Systems Engineer, not an Installer.

    2) A majority of us use Firefox. Internally, it's the browser of choice.

    3) The web page is probably something that hasn't been updated. There are tons of internal projects for that kind of thing. But of course it's done by committee, which takes time.

    It's a non-issue, really.

    • I found that switching to my own cable modem was not too much of a problem and the router works with that. After this is set up, any operating system will do. But, comcast is always the last bill I pay because I have to boot into windows to do it. You all charge a late fee so I don't feel bad about being late, but it is a pain that I can't do that bill together with the others and have to interupt sessions to finally get it paid.
      Switch to solar and get firefox compliant billing: http://mdsolar.blogspot [blogspot.com]
      • but it is a pain that I can't do that bill together with the others and have to interupt sessions to finally get it paid.

        You mean the Comcast.com webpage where you log in to pay your bill?

        I've never used IE to pay my bill through that site - I've always used Firefox.. what website are you talking about?
      • You know you can set up automatic payments, right? But yeah their newer interface does kinda suck. I've never been able to get much of anything to load in FF.
    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @10:12AM (#19900435) Journal
      Your company just got a huge helping dose of bad publicity from an influential market sector, all because you were too lazy to update a simple webpage. Granted, as of now there isn't much choice when it comes to choosing an isp or cable company, just as ten years ago there wasn't much of a choice other than AOL. Well, time and technology change fast, don't be too surprised when we have a choice we'll head for the exits in droves. Right now, I'm actively looking at a place to live that will allow me to use a decent ISP other than Comcast, because of your insane policies.
  • A grim reminder that Win/IE has such a large portion of the market, that the largest ISP in America can do such a thing.
  • Rogers is no better (Score:5, Informative)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis@gmCOMMAail.com minus punct> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:48AM (#19899419) Homepage
    The Rogers website works very poorly with Firefox [especially without flash], and the PDFs they send out don't render with xpdf, gs, or evince. It's also as if they go out of their way to break things on non-Windows platforms. The Canadian government is going the same way sadly. CRA, MOT and a few others don't render at all in Firefox, or when they do select elements fail and make the pages useless.

    And the worse part is though they have to go out of their way to break things. I mean there is enough HTML/CSS/etc in common between the two [IE and Netscape/Moz] that every website should at least be functional on both, if not presentable.

    Pizza Pizza also doesn't work in Linux which means I have to boot my Windows laptop to get some chow ... :-(

    • Adobe Reader ships for Linux. In fact, IIRC Ubuntu has it in their multiverse repository.
    • I'm pretty sure campusfood.com works with Linux/FF. Just make sure you live in the delivery area of some University, and you're set.

    • Pizza Pizza also doesn't work in Linux which means I have to boot my Windows laptop to get some chow ... :-(

      737-1111 has worked for decades, and probably takes less time than rebooting :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tomstdenis ( 446163 )
        Who said rebooting? My workstation is Gentoo only. It's my laptop that is dual boot and it's off most of the time.

        To be honest, I'd rather take the 30 seconds to boot my laptop than talk with a human. Ordering Pizza [or dealing with most phone staff] is right up there with having my nails forcefully removed in terms of things I'd enjoy doing. Pizza phone folk are so f'ing stupid that it usually takes 3 times as long as simply clicking a few buttons on their website.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      I've never had any problems with the CRA or MOT (ontario). I use firefox on windows mostly, so maybe it's just a Linux thing. If there is a problem, make sure you complain to them. If you are having trouble then you might want to complain to the Treasure board [tbs-sct.gc.ca] since they have specific guidelines stating that websites are supposed to be accessible to everybody, regardless of what type of OS or browser they are running. I'm not sure if the MOT has to follow the same guidelines, because they are provincially
  • by Lxy ( 80823 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:48AM (#19899421) Journal
    What has happened to Slashdot?

    Comcast doesn't hate Firefox. They probably don't see a need to support it. I remember 5+ years ago, running my linux boxes on Charter. They didn't support it, but that didn't mean they had a problem with me doing it.

    Here's a hint to the idiot who posted this: DON'T INSTALL THEIR SOFTWARE. YOU DON'T NEED IT. Plug your router/linux box into the cable modem, DHCP, viola, internet connection. Easy as that.
    • by toleraen ( 831634 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:00AM (#19899573)
      cable modem, DHCP, viola, internet connection

      FYI you can substitute the viola for a cello, worked fine for me. Just make sure to keep it in tune otherwise your cable signal goes all wonky
    • by GiMP ( 10923 )

      Here's a hint to the idiot who posted this: DON'T INSTALL THEIR SOFTWARE. YOU DON'T NEED IT. Plug your router/linux box into the cable modem, DHCP, viola, internet connection. Easy as that.

      Although my initial setups with Comcast have always gone smoothly -- I ran Linux but the installer only cared that I could pull up a webpage. However, this doesn't help if there is something dreadfully wrong on their side and you need them to diagnose it. For instance, I've seen cable installations (not Comcast) where t

  • by VE3OGG ( 1034632 ) <{VE3OGG} {at} {rac.ca}> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:48AM (#19899423)
    What is this species, I have yet to hear about it? Is it endangered? Should be call PETA or Greenpeace or what?

    Seriously though -- this seems like corporate laziness to the nth degree.

  • It's amazing to me how many inept non-compatible web-pages there still are out there. I recently went to a page that informed me I was running a really ancient version of IE or Mozilla and I needed to upgrade it right now. Except I was running Opera.

    I know, I know, I could get Opera to pretend it's IE. That's still stupid.

  • They Don't (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) * on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:50AM (#19899441)

    I'm afraid to ask how Comcast handles Linux...
    They don't. If they come to your house to set up your account and you have only Linux machines, they either use their own laptop or your connection doesn't get connected.

    They also offer no support. If you call with a trouble report you'd better pretend you are using a Windows machine when they give you their step by step connection test instructions. If they say "click Start -> Control Panel" and you say "I have neither", the problem is obviously on your end.

    This is also true if you have only Macs and Linux, which I did at both my home and my studio when I first set those up. Luckily the guy who handled them had his Windows laptop.

    By the way, Wild Blue satellite, same thing. They have independent installers, but Wild Blue tech support can't help them if they run into a problem on and only Linux machines are on the customer's end.
    • Re:They Don't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:55AM (#19899497)
      They also offer no support. If you call with a trouble report you'd better pretend you are using a Windows machine when they give you their step by step connection test instructions. If they say "click Start -> Control Panel" and you say "I have neither", the problem is obviously on your end.

      I worked tech support for AT&T@Home and ATTBI. If someone would call saying they had connectivity problems and they were running an alternative OS we were instructed to powercycle their modem remotely and if still no bloc-sync, to have them do it manually with a power down. If still nothing we rolled a truck after explaining that if it wasn't a line issue they would have to pay. Now, if that tech arrived at their house, hooked up the laptop and found that they had bloc-sync after all, then the person paid $90 for the trouble call.

      Honestly, if you're running Linux in your home and nothing else, I expect you to be able to handle powercycling yourself and insuring that your computer is running properly (including checking your router, your ethernet card, and to make sure your DHCP client is running).
  • What Install? (Score:4, Informative)

    by zzmook ( 876028 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:51AM (#19899453)
    You don't need their disk. I've hooked them up for about 6-10 people and the first thing I do is trash that. Just set up the basic DHCP way for single machines and if you're routered, DHCP your WAN side and it's all gravy - takes 2 minutes tops.
    • It's good that it's that easy nowadays. But at the turn of the century they got carried away with the system integration and demanded that each MAC address on the premises get registered in some Web-based database, which, of course, required MSIE. This was before the age of NAT. Thankfully after home routers got widespread they stopped this practice.
  • I have comcast and for the past 3 weeks I've been experiencing persistent disconnections during primetime. I've called comcast several times and once I tell them I have a linux firewall they refuse to help me until I connect a windows system directly to the cable modem.

    Unrelated to the lack of linux support, what I see via tcpdump is a complete loss of traffic for about 1 to 3 minutes followed by a large amount (sometimes hundreds per second) of only ARP traffic, followed shortly after that by normal traff
    • I had similar issues in the past. The first seemed to occur during daytime. Turned out to be an overheating equipment cabinet somewhere upstream. Another issue seemed to be too many cable splitters in the circuit, making the cable modem overheat.
  • Untrue (Score:5, Informative)

    by Karrde712 ( 125745 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:55AM (#19899505)
    This story is inaccurate. When I signed up for Comcast a few years ago, I had the following problem: I had only Linux installed on my computer and the CD that came with the installer only supported Windows and Mac.

    I called their tech support line and explained the problem. The first person I got didn't know how to handle it, so they passed me on to their supervisor. The supervisor recognized the problem and knew how to solve it. He asked me for the serial number of my cable modem, the MAC address of the network card connecting to it and a few other minor bits of data. He entered it manually into their systems and told me to reboot the cable modem. It came up perfectly.

    Admittedly, needing to call tech support for your "self-install" is a hassle, but it's still a far cry from "not supporting".
  • by theRiallatar ( 584902 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:56AM (#19899517)
    Verizon does something similar. When you sign up for their DSL service they ship a self-install CD that "brands" IE, installs a bunch of bloat and requires Windows to work.

    If you call them up to ask for help and actively tell them you don't want to install the software, they'll grumble for a while but eventually cave and step you through how to manually connect to and configure the DSL Bridge/Router they ship you.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Right now the install wizard requires IE. However they can still activate you without it, which simply takes longer since the tech has to call in to have your cable modem registered. Soon Comcast is releasing an OS and browser agnostic installation procedure which will remedy all of the fuss. It makes business sense to simplify and streamline the installation process, which at the same time makes the consumer more satisfied. The techs can do more installs when they don't have to care about the OS or browser
  • They say Comcasts hates Firefox or Mac users. But they show screenshots of Safari for Windows, which is not Firefox and not for Mac.
  • by CheeseburgerBrown ( 553703 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:59AM (#19899555) Homepage Journal
    Using a Mac is often seized upon by support technicians or customer service squids as a one-size-fits-all scapegoat to excuse themselves from providing assistance.

    If I call anyone's support about difficulties (cable modem troubles at home, network issues at work) they will frequently jump as soon as they realize (sometimes after a comically long time) that I'm using a Mac, and declare with infinite righteousness and authority that my problem is definitely "Mac-related." And then they're off the hook, as far as they're concerned.

    It doesn't really matter if it's a router issue, or even a bad password -- for some reason, the cause is always "Mac-related." They wash their hands of it and skip away free, easy as pie.

    For me, when a technician or supportist utters that phrase what I hear is, "I'm incompetent, and I'm hoping you don't know enough to see that. See the pretty icon? Clicky-clicky!"

    It plays into the myth that Mac users are somehow rare -- somehow few and far between. You can bash about market-share voodoo until you're blue in the face, it won't change the fact that it isn't hard to find Mac users. There are definitely fewer Mac users than Windows users, but that smaller number isn't nearly as insignificant as some would have us believe.

    "I'm sorry, but the vast majority of our users use Windows. I can't help you."

    "As a Mac user, that's very disappointing."

    "Yeah, I get that all the time."

    • As a front-line ISP tech support dick, I would be suprised if I got more than 1 call from a Mac user in a month. Mebbe there are more of them, but they don't have to call tech support as often.

      By the way, they use the 'It's a Windows related issue, call your OEM/Microsoft.' just as often, trust me.
  • Comcast support (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gmerideth ( 107286 ) <gmerideth@uclnj.cDEBIANom minus distro> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @08:59AM (#19899561) Homepage
    Two months ago I was forced to call Comcast support for a dead modem. Now, at the time, I was running Fedora 7. The technician (I use that word loosely) was insistent I tell her the time, displayed on the lower right corner of my screen. My attempts to inform her that the time of my computer was irrelevant to a modem that is not syncing. After then giving in and telling her that on my desktop, the time is on the top right of the screen, not the bottom due to me being in Linux. "Ohh well, we don't support Linux" was the answer.

    It then took another 12 minutes to explain that the OS of my choice has nothing to do with a modem that is failed. I was finally booted to a real technician after asking for a MAC address reassignment (tip: start using tech words and asking for things you can't actually do over the phone) I was able to get someone who at least understood what happened and send out a new modem.

    What does this have to do with the topic? Well, I was asked to check a page at Comcast for terms, during the time I had told the "tech" that my cable was out, as they flat out said they would not support any issues with Firefox, especially under Linux, neither of which had anything to do with the problem.

    Next time, I'll tell them I'm in BeOS or V2.
    • I've done the same with Bellsouth business class DSL. They provide a DSL "modem" and router combo, all set up. Call them and explain that no connection is happening, etc. they ask the client OS. I tell 'em it doesn't matter, its the *router* that they sent that is messed up. Get put on hold, etc. and they come back asking about the client OS.

      So on that day, some poor BS script reader got to learn about Windows 3.11, Linux, BSD, OS X, BeOS, AIX, and any other TLA (three letter abbreviation) I could think
    • Re:Comcast support (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sfjoe ( 470510 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @02:22PM (#19904499)
      No wonder you can't get any tech support. If you insist on arguing over the placement of the clock on the desktop, you're never going to get anywhere. Next time, just tell them what damn time it is and move on.
  • by Alexpkeaton1010 ( 1101915 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:00AM (#19899569)
    The night before I got my Verizon FIOS internet installed I had nightmares that I was going to end up with Yahoo toolbar, Google Desktop, and Norton Antivirus on my pristine gaming PC. So right before they came I hid my gaming PC in my closet and had my Macbook sitting out. It was very obvious that I had a missing desktop since I had my 5.1 gaming speakers not connected to anything. I figured that I could undo whatever crap they did on OSX better than I could on Windows. They refused to touch my laptop, so I just had them leave the router and I configured it myself. I never found out what was on that CD they wanted to install, but I am sure it was something horrible and evil.
  • I have used Comcast at 3 different locations and they all required that their router be activated via a web browser. I could guess that the software that they use to activate the router was written in IE 5.5 and they are just too lazy to bother checking to see if anything else works with it.
  • Let me start off by saying I am in no way a Comcast fan, more like a customer by force since they're the only form of broadband where I live. That being said, you don't have to have Windows for installation. My entire home network runs nothing but Linux, even on the router, and I had no trouble getting my service set up. When the Comcast technician came to unblock the line and perform the install, I told him I did not run Windows and that I would not install their software. He shrugged, then called back
  • Could be worse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:05AM (#19899613)
    Qwest "partnered" with MSN, so if you get their DSL your ISP just flat-out requires MSWindows for authentication, period.

    Fortunately, for now the FCC still requires them to allow you to use other ISPs (if you pay more, but it's worth it). No telling how long that will last, though.

  • I'm afraid to ask how Comcast handles Linux...

    It's simple, the responce would be

    a) Contact Microsoft
    b) Get a copy of Vista
    c) Install it
    d) Then contact us


  • by mattgreen ( 701203 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:14AM (#19899705)
    Thanks to this wonderful article, we can now continue feeling oppressed because our operating system of choice doesn't get the same hand-holding that the rest of the world does! "Dear Slashdot, would you believe that the cable installer did not know what the Linux kernel was? I BET THEY'RE FUNDED BY MICROSOFT IN A GIANT CONSPIRACY TO BRING LINUX DOWN!"

    Seriously, get off Slashdot if you don't know how to set up an Internet connection. You're lamenting the fact you don't get a few browser helper objects, your IE branded, default home and search pages changed, and about 3 or 4 extra things run at startup installed.
  • My experiences with Comcast in the Western 'burbs of Chicago.

    1. Initial setup was they absolutely insisted on having me use a Windows PC to run the setup software. This didn't install anything, but did activate the cable modem. When I told them all I had was Linux, they offered to do it manually but that would "take a couple of weeks". In reality it took about 24 hours for the request to go thru the system.

    2. Every time since then, when ever I've seen them do an install or troubleshoot, they don't even b
  • knowlegable. I have had their service installed at three locations in different cities. I have always told them that there are no windows machines in my house and that they cannot touch my router, switches, or computers. They were always happy to tell me all the configuration numbers and they have worked with no problem. On the third install they had to use some kind of call/response program that activated the service to my house, but they had an installer for the mac and for windows. I let them install
  • by stwrtpj ( 518864 ) <.ten.tsacmoc. .ta. .trawets.p.> on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:38AM (#19900003) Journal

    The key to working with Comcast is to have some basic technical knowledge of cable internet. Once you show you know the lingo and you know the basic technical aspects, you'll either get the support person to "talk up" to your level immediately or switch you to someone that knows. Most support people have at least heard some of the terminology, usually enough to know if they're in over their head and need to route you to someone else.

    For example, if you buy your own modem, NEVER say "I need my new modem INSTALLED." Say "I need my new modem PROVISIONED". 95% of the support people will know right away what you need and won't bother asking you about Windows and you'll be online 15 minutes later.

    Know how to get to the status page of your modem (usually [] but may vary depending on model). Know that your downstream signal needs to be between -10 and +10 dBmV. Know that your downstream SNR should be above 33. Know that your upstream power should be between +30 and +50 dBmV. When my signal dropped because of a splice in the line gone bad, I didn't tell Comcast "my internet don't work", I told them, "my downstream power is -16, which is out-of-spec, I need a tech to take a look at this". I had a tech out the very next morning and was back online by the afternoon.

    Also, whenever you have a problem, BEFORE you call do the mantra of restarting your cable modem, router, and computer. Even if you know this will not fix the issue, do it. Then take the router out of the loop and do it all over again. Then when you call, tell them you did all this already. This will save time.

    In all the times that I have had to call Comcast for technical issues, not once did the subject of Windows ever come up.

  • by AaronLawrence ( 600990 ) * on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @09:40AM (#19900031)
    There is a whole generation of IT people who grew up knowing nothing outside Microsoft. (By generation I mean some kind of IT generation, say 5 years). They exist in their little ecosystem of microsoft products and anything else makes them uncomfortable. These guys are still largely around, I work with one guy, he automatically assumes Microsoft has the correct answer, even when intellectually he can be convinced there is nothing special about them.

    I guess Microsoft deliberately nutured this little ecosystems; not just in the positive sense of focussing on developers, but in the negative sense by their careful marketing and PR speak aimed at FUDding everything else.

    This is nothing new to Slashdot. What's perhaps interesting is that there are still lots of techies in this mindset, when people here clearly feel things have moved on ...
  • Linux installs... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @10:17AM (#19900513) Homepage Journal
    Although it may not seem like it, a general shift from "What's Linux?" to "We don't support Linux" among tech support people *is* an improvement.
  • This is nothing new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @10:18AM (#19900555) Journal
    Nor is it unique. Around 5 years ago TurboTax suddenly started "requiring" IE. It check and if it wasn't installed, it installed it with the program and made it the default browser. It "needed" it because the instructions were in HTML. Any browser would would. And in fact it did. We did the install and changed the default browser back again (Opera, at the time) and it worked fine. This, after TurboTax tech support swore down and down (there was no up to their "help") that it absolutely required IE.

    The same thing happened with Dragon Naturally Speaking, in the last version before MS bought it and built it into Word. Same checking and forced install, same rationale, same story from tech support, except we finally got one guy to admit it would work with another browser after we told him we'd already done it.

    We had Adelphia for telecom at the time. They also force installed IE with their software. We just didn't install their software since it was nothing but IE, some help files, some self-promotion, and AOL and Earthlink install programs. The important stuff, ports and s4erver names and whatnot, were in the instructions, and Opera read those off the CD just dandy. Whenever we called for tech support they asked if we had IE. We said no, we had Opera. They said they didn't support that. We said we weren't asking them to support the browser, we wanted them to fix the problem with the line or network, and in fact I forbid them to attempt to provide "support" for anything from the wall plug in because I didn't trust them to leave my system in the state I wanted it.

    Kickbacks. That's what it comes down to. Probably not direct monetary kickbacks, but something like reduced support charges for their own Windows Server software as long as they standardized their network by having everyone use one "standard" browser. Then again, this was Adelphia, so it might well have been payola.

  • Non-issue really (Score:4, Informative)

    by dfj225 ( 587560 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @11:13AM (#19901425) Homepage Journal
    Meh, I have Comcast and I think this is sort of a non-issue really.

    To get their service going:

    Call Comcast, deal with the stupid support people and get your account set up.

    Throw whatever disks they give you in the trash.

    Connect modem to router.

    Enjoy pretty fast service (at least in my area).

    What's the problem? I don't use their web portal (or at least very rarely) and the modem that I bought works fine with their service and my router.
  • by massysett ( 910130 ) on Wednesday July 18, 2007 @02:26PM (#19904547) Homepage
    They also hate KMail, Linspire, Thunderbird, and Eudora, even though they have instructions [comcast.net] on the Comcast website on how to set these things up to work with the Comcast email servers. They actively sit around and brood with their hatred for alternative browsers, even though their help site has instructions [comcast.net] on how to make Firefox your default browser. They hate Firefox, Opera, Camino, and Safari, even though they say these browsers will work [comcast.net] with their service.

    Yep, they hate anything that's not from Microsoft.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.