Terrified of Westell Modem & Verizon DSL

Posted at bleepingcomputer.com

A member wrote:
You plugged a XP machine into the modem/router and nothing happened. So I was curious why you would think a Linux based machine would make a difference. Sorry if it came off as snotty. And I have always said, the only stupid question is the one un-asked.

The other thing you could look into is http://www.virtualbox.org/

Sun VirtualBox. I have Ubuntu and Win7 RC installed inside it. But you can install all kinds of OS’s, mess with them all you like. That way you aren’t limited to just that version Linux, you could install them all, as long as you have the hard drive space.

My reply:
Aha, you misunderstood. I have NEVER until now had the guts to plug anything into the Westell router, because we have little money, and I cant afford the headache and expense of messing up my home internet. But now, from what you tell me and what I have read in google (and I wrote a long support question to Startech, who will probably get back to me next week about their Ethernet card which is only $10, and claims to have Linux drivers).

Also, here is a funny true story. Last week, I thought my stepdaughter was telling me that she has an old tower she doesnt want, and I could wipe out the drive with a pure Ubuntu install. She just called to say her husband was bringing it over with a monitor (which I can keep)…. but when I told her my plans, she was horrified, and said that she wants me to CLEAN UP THE VIRUSES and give it back to her, because right now it will only boot in F2 Safe mode. Ha ha! I am glad I asked, and she should have been less vague and cavalier. But now I have little fear about plugging the cable from the Westell jack into the ethernet jack. Besides, it stands to reason what when any software is about to modify anything, it would prompt.

Although, here are two things I didnt understand about Verizon DSL. Once, I changed the password on the Verizon email account, and that DISABLES the modem that is connected to that account, and a service technician must do a number of things over the phone to restore the DSL service. That was a painful lesson. Another time, DSL was down, and I though I should take a pen and hit the reset button on the Westell. I didnt realize that doing that WIPES OUT EVERYTHING in the Westell, and you have to get on the phone for an hour with a technician to reset the Westell. So perhaps those two horrible experiences contribute to my fear and hesitancy to mess with the Westell.

Old saying: once burnt, twice shy. Plus, if it ain’t broke dont fix it. Years ago we had our first home DSL with AOL. My stepson who was only 13, decided one day to reinstall AOL from a new diskette that came in the mail. That WIPED OUT THE DSL, and AOL was NEVER able to restore it, and their tech dept was not too worried about restoring it.

Thanks for your feedback, it did help! I wasn’t hesitant about hooking up an Ubuntu machine. I am just scared to death of Verizon and Westell. I did take the courage to go into the Westell setep to enable Wifi with WEP key protection. 3 years ago in my 27 story high rise, one could pick up all sorts of unprotected wi-fi. NOW, all the channels are protected and one is even named “GET AWAY!!!”. People began to realize that other people could steal bandwidth.

I would like to close by suggestion something that I think Thomas Jefferson would suggest were he alive today: namely FREE PUBLIC WIFI in every city. Jefferson asked that only two accomplishments be mentioned on his tombstone: that he signed the Declaration of Independence, and that he founded the University of Virginia. Jefferson suggested free education for all, which in his day seemed like a strange idea. After all, education was only for nobility and the wealthy. The peasant farmers and laborers didnt need to know how to read. But Jefferson realized that unless ALL were educated, even laborers and farm workers, then there could NEVER be a government “of the people and by the people.”

What does this have to do with free wi-fi, you ask? Everything. Today, computer illiteracy is the new danger. In 1960, my mother had to fight to get me a $2000 World Book encyclopedia so I could do my homework in 6th grade, because there were no libraries close by. But today, who buys an encylopedia, when there are search engines and things like Wikipedia?
Every child NEED computers and internet access. True there are dangers and abuses in chat rooms etc, but then there are dangers in the postal mail system. That does not mean we should do away with the post office. It means that we should find safe guards and establish punishments for crimes committed using the U.S. mail or the internet. We must make it a crime to shout FIRE as a joke in a public auditorium, but we must preserve freedom of speech. And if there is ANYTHING at all in this world which will unify all peoples and nations and creeds it is the communication and understanding provided by the Internet. I know because I have a friend of 10 years now in Tehran Iran, who loves Plato and Tolstoy and Dostoevsky and everything that is western and free.

In a very poor neighborhood in one large city in India, where there are many high tech computer firms, as an experiment, they installed many rugged computer terminals in the alley ways where homeless street children dwelt. Those children quickly learned how to be very


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