ADSL adventures, part 1

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a telemarketer about a new ADSL
offer from Belgacom/Skynet (main telco and ISP in Belgium). I did not
hang up immediately and I even accepted the offer. By now, you
probably think “sucker!” and you may be right, but that’s not the
point of this blog entry. After a bit of discussion about this offer,
he asked me what version of Windows I was running and I said “Linux”.
Hmmm… Two minutes of please-do-not-hang-up music later, he was back
and said that everything should work fine with Linux and my “free”
modem would be delivered soon. So far so good.

One month later, after returning a package containing the wrong
modem (USB only), I eventually received a package containing the right
one (Speedtouch 530, with both Ethernet and USB ports), some cables,
ADSL filters and CD-ROM for setup and documentation. That CD-ROM
surprised me, as it appeared to be empty. Strange… It was mounted
without errors, it had a label and a non-zero size, but there was
something missing: the files.

After a bit of investigation, it turns out that the CD-ROM had both
Joliet (Windows) and Rock Ridge (UNIX) extensions. But the Rock Ridge
extensions were hiding every file on the CD! So mounting this CD on a
Linux machine (or Solaris, MacOS X or other UNIX systems) shows an
empty filesystem. From a Windows system, everything looks fine.
Fortunately, mounting the CD with the option -o norock
allowed me to access its full contents. I did not care much about the
drivers for Windows included on the CD, but the whole documentation
including the basic hardware and software setup instructions could
only be found there. Without that documentation, it would have been
hard to guess that I had to use the address 10.0.0.138 in order to
access the configuration menu of the modem.

I found out later that I could get this information and much more
by visiting the Speedtouch web
site
directly instead of relying on the CD distributed by
Belgacom. But still, that CD was interesting considering that I had
specifically asked for Linux support…

By the way, if you want to create such a CD, you can play with
mkisofs and the options -hide and
-hide-joliet. I have used these options a few years ago to
create useful CDs that were showing README from Linux and ReadMe.txt
from Windows (with DOS CRLF line endings). But you can also use these
options for creating broken CDs, if you really want to alienate your
customers.

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