Thursday 28 May 2015

ADSL problem

I got up this morning to be greeeted by "400 alerts". That's my system monitor, telling me that I've received 400 emails alerting me to a problem. The problem was with the server called foggy, and the problem was that it couldn't contact the internet. Once per 10 minutes, foggy tries to ping (which is Google) and if it can't, there's a problem.

I use DSLs to supplement my 2 mbit leased line. DSLs are a lot faster for download (but not upload); on the other hand, they're less reliable. Actually, in my experience, they're about the same level of reliability as my leased line. I mostly use them for doing backups of my remote servers to here; also so that ladysolly's array of apple devices (which now includes her iWatch) can access the internet at better than the paltry 2mbit speed of the leased line.
2 mbit slow? The first modem I used was an Anderson/Jacobson acoustic coupler that ran at 300 baud, that's .0003 mbit. When I got a 64kbit ISDN, I though I was in heaven. Now I'm impatiently waiting for BT to install the fibre that will give me 100 mbit!

So I checked out the DSL router, and it was failing to synchronise with the exchange. I plugged a phone in to the line, to check if it was getting dial tone, and it was. So I plugged in another working DSL router from another line, and it synchronised. So the problem was the router.

I have a few spare routers; when I bought them, they were about £15, so I thought a few spares might be useful.  often do that when I'm buying critical infrastructure; I'm taking the long view. Whereas most people seem to think that it's nothing to replace equipments every five years, I'm still using some kit that I bought 20 years ago. But if something fails, and you want to do a like-for-like replacement (which is obviously the easiest thing to do), you can be frustrated to find that the equipment is now so obsolete, you can't get them, even secondhand on Ebay. So I plugged in a replacement router, and it synchronised. Hurrah. Now to configure it.

I went to using a browser (that's the default for these routers) and it asked me for the username and password. I tried user/password, but that didn't get me to the admin account. So I tried admin/epicrouter, which is (I thought) the default for this router, and that didn't work. I tried the password that I would have given to this router if I'd configured it; that didn't work. Eventually, I dug out a couple of old manuals; one suggested admin/epicrouter and the other suggested admin/password, and that worked!

So I changed the password - I've heard that some people don't immediately change their router password, which is obviously not a good idea, even though the router can only be access from inside my network, but it's best to get the habit of always changing default passwords. Then I configured it with the username and password for the ADSL line that it was plugged in to, told it to use CBR, and suchlike other config details, saved and rebooted. When it came up, it was syncronising fine, but it wasn't connectng to the ppp - I think that means that it wasn't logging in to the account.

At that point, I felt that I'd run out of options, so I phoned tech support at TalkTalk. After they put me through a tedious security check, they checked the line, and told me it was synchronising. Well, I already knew that. And then ping started to work from foggy to the internet, which means that it had successfully got through the Talktalk system. The tech support guy suggested that it was either his action in testing the line, or else the login just took several minutes. Neither of those possibilities seem likely to me, but it is working now, so I'm not going to chase this.

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