Linux

Linksys just lost a customer.


The other day I was trying to administer a couple of web sites of mine from home. One of them was down and I thought a traceroute would be the best first approach to understanding what was going on. When I ran traceroute I got the dreaded:

traceroute to www.mydomain.net (IP ADDRESS HERE), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets 

1  * * *
2  * * *
3  * * *
4  * * *
5  * * *
6  * * *
7  * * *
8  * * *
9  * * *
10  * * *
11  * * *
12  * * *
13  * * *
14  * * *
15  * * *
16  * * *
17  * * *
18  * * *
19  * * *
20  * * *
21  * * *
22  * * *
23  * * *
24  * * *
25  * * *
26  * * *
27  * * *
28  * * *
29  * * *
30  * * *

Ashes, ashes we all time out!

Okay, it didn't report that last part, but you get the idea. So I contact my hosting site and they tell me that my ISP could be blocking the traceroute packets. Sooooo I contact my ISP and they tell me it's probably my router. Soooooo I contact Linksys. And then it all goes to pot.

First they tell me they can't REALLY answer my question because my router is more than a year old. THEN the customer support rep asks me the dreaded question "Which version of Windows are you using?" 

HUH?

Why make that assumption in the first place? In the second place, why does it matter? The routers' administration is done 100% via web browser. It shouldn't matter what operating system I use. For all intents and purposes I could be administering the router through my Treo 680 - it shouldn't matter.

But, for some strange reason, it didn't matter to them. Linux was an unknown. Yeah right. So I run to the netcraft.com site to find out what OS the linksys.com site uses. Just as I thought: Linux running Apache.

So Linksys uses Linux to serve up their web pages but doesn't support Linux for their products. Seems to me that's a double standard. Not only that - but the parent company, Cisco, uses Linux to serve up their web pages AND they held the Cisco/Linux project. Do a search on the Cisco web site for Linux and you'll get 3,290 results. Do a search on the linksys.com site for linux and you'll get about 30 hits.

I told the help desk person two things: I write for CNET and that I would be getting rid of my Linksys router in and replacing it with a router made by a company that supports Linux the help desk jockey said "You may do that."


Of course I may do that. And I will. Why? I made it very clear in the post-phone call survey I filled out. Why? Because the idea that a company can not spend a few extra scheckles to ensure it's product-knowledge is up to par with the rest of the planet is outrageous. There are whole countries switching to the Linux operating system. You think they might need routers? Oh sure, you can set up a router using the Linux operating system (which I might do instead of purchasing another router) but that's not the point. The point is, companies need to join the millennium. Support needs to be broadened to be inclusive not reductive. 

If you can't tell, this makes me mad. I've spent over a decade fighting the Linux fight. I feel like after this much time more people (especially in the tech industry) should get it. 

So I would ask you this: Do you (or your company) support the Linux operating system and/or open source software? If not, what can you do to change that? Or better yet, what WILL you do?

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

133 comments
windyharbor
windyharbor

Same here (lost another customer). I called Linksys for help with a web camera(I have a couple). They told me my router was more than a year old and couldn't help me unless I paid for the service. Of course I will not pay for an answer to a simple question (I corrected the problem myself). What did it matter that my router was over a year old ? The camera was what I was asking for assistance with. Which is still in the warranty period. Going to purchase different brand of cameras and routers. Goodbye Linksys...

kerry.millen
kerry.millen

I had an equally odd experience with my Linksys wired/wireless router. I'm an experienced technician and software engineer and have set up networks (home and other) many times so when my home network needed some work, I didn't hestitate. But try as I might, I couldn't get my network to operate properly. I checked and pinged and renewed and reset until I was blue in the face, but nothing. After two hours of injured pride I called Linksys. They didn't ask me what type router I had or exactly what I was trying to do. All they asked me was, "What operating system are you using?" "What does it matter?", I said. Finally, I confessed, "I have XP Pro." Before my words fell to the ground the rep told me to go to a web site, download netset.exe and run it and then she hung up. Totally weird! I did it and my network functioned perfectly after that. So guess what I wanted to do then? I want to see which settings and configurations I had wrong; what was I doing that prevented me from getting my home network working? But no settings or configurations that I could find were changed; I had done everything correct--but something changed. Linksys has an OS dependency that's harming them because I'm not buying another one either.

draciron
draciron

The only way to raise awareness and get support is to make companies aware of just how many Linux users there are. Most companies think that %95 of computers users still use windows because so many machines are sold with windows only then converted to Linux. 2 of my 3 working boxes came with Windows pre-installed that I then wiped out and put Linux on. The Linux community had been far too silent. We now comprise at least %8 of the market, more likely %10-12 of desktops run Linux as a primary or sole OS. At least %1 more use Linux as part of a dual boot and secondary OS. This is fast growing. In the server market Linux is coming to dominate the market. I suspect Linux is now the most common server OS out there. Windos's growth in the server market is flat. Old school nix like Solaris is dieing and Linux is rapidly replacing Solaris and BSD boxes as well s being the OS of choice with new systems. We have clout, we are just too quiet about it.

jgmsys@yahoo.com
jgmsys@yahoo.com

Linksys has pretty much always been Linux-hostile. I have a two-and-a-half year old wireless card from Linksys that I can't get Linux drivers for. When I looked it up on their web site, they basically stated that there are no open source drivers available for this card, if not most of their cards. Of course, this was a while ago by now. So if you're running Linux, don't buy Linksys.

Mr. Tinker
Mr. Tinker

It would seem that most of the people here have no issue with the logging facility of the LinkSys products as of late. I do. I NEED to see what system in my network is going where, and just as importantly WHAT IP ADDRRES FROM THE INTERNET IS CONECTINGG TO WHAT MACHINE IN MY NETWORK! The link-this does not give that info up. Better off hacking it and installing a better version of someone else's router firmware. It doesn't matter what O/S you use behind the router, EVER. It MATTERS when you are told to jump up and down on the keyboard like a monkey and perform an undocumented procedure to upgrade the firmware, and end up with the same results. It MATTERS when the maker doesn't support it's products-GLOBALLY. (same problems overseas.) So you can have a few "wireless" goodies areound the house??? It's just a name... try another brand-Belkin, D-Link, NetGear. My 'ancient' D-Link is still doing VERY well at protecting my network, and updated AP's do the house-goodies on a seperate network not hooked to the internet. Works better than my neighbors Link-This! Drop-em I did, and so are all my clients due to the same issues.

dlmeyer
dlmeyer

The scripts most Help Desks use are written to get to the heart of the problem A.S.A.P. - thus the Windows expectation. #1) over 3/4 of all desktop systems run Windows #2) any given Windows system is 10 times as likely to bork as any non-Windows system Thus) why not get 99% of the problems IDd up front?

Agent 77
Agent 77

I actually got real help from their help desk when the new daylight savings time issue was upon us and I flashed my firmware thinking they would have the DST update for us in the latest firmware. I was wrong about the DST update, and in flashing my firmware, I lost my network. Their tech that I got, actually knew a thing or two, and was able to set me on the right path to restore my network with a few simple steps. I WAS SHOCKED!!!

mcedronron
mcedronron

You call your telephone company and tell them. YOU: My phone number is ......... I have ADSL and I have no sync at the demarcation point. RESPONSE: What operating system are you using? The above is taken from my interaction with BellSouth (the new AT&T) ADSL Support time and time again over the years. Needless to say, they don'y listen to what you are saying to them, much less understand. Now, their call centers are outsource to the Phillipines... No racial badmouthing intended, but, have they even heard of ADSL? The point is their call center was outsource to a company in the US before. Same stupid question then. All this reps are trained to follow questions in the screen. But the sad part is that none of them are smart enough to avoid the unnecessary ones. I, myself, used to work for BellSouth at a Residential Repair Center. That is where your call goes when you dial 611 from a landline. We were trained to follow TAFI flow, and got penalized if we overrode the system. Tell me one thing: Would it make sense to you to tell the customer your trouble will be cleared between now and Sunday because the system decided that you needed to dispatch a tech out when you can tell based on your knowledge the trouble is inside and you can get it fixed within a couple of hours? Well, that is how their system works. SCRIPTED ANSWERS GIVEN BY A COMPUTER AND THEY JUST EXPECT THE REP TO READ THEM TO YOU.

rev.hawk743
rev.hawk743

"gone" is where I be. Bet they make software Mac's is only 5% of desktop and is open source too. So many others make software for mac's but not Linux. Why? When mac desktop are only 5% to 10% of users. This means that we in Linux OSes are around 20% to 30% more than double the mac's. Someone is fighting Linux with $$$$$e06.00 That is because otherOSes are done 1/2 when sold or they are doing other things that we pay in time, electric, and backward logic like click the start to logout, reboot, and shutdown. "Hawk"

rdbrown
rdbrown

...what the OS is inside the router.

ctlenterprises
ctlenterprises

HP is bad too. Own an HP printer that is more than 2 years old ? They have very little support or sympathy if your printer is broke, infact they will tell you to buy a new one.

Larry the Security Guy
Larry the Security Guy

What I most despise are support drones that ask about the operating system even though the product is unrelated. When asked such a question, I ask why they want to know. The answers I get range from following a script to running a windows-based support tool. Vonage once asked me to reboot my computer. I asked if I should turn it on first. The mind wobbles.

dhart19
dhart19

Had a Linksys router that constantly kept cutting out. Went to my computer guy, explained what was happening, and first thing he asked "Is it a Linksys" He said he's had a bunch of complaints about them, suggested to try a Netgear router, no problems ever since.

MikeBytes
MikeBytes

I read this entire discussion with great interest for it tells us something about ourselves that we can use to help us understand our clients. Please note that the discussion started out with a stated concern about supporting a rather essoteric operating system (for the home and normal user). The help desk could not help and what happened the issue of concern changed to a vendor bashing opportunity. No solutions in that were there? Then some more focused individual presented the fix with the 2 flavor traceroute answer. Ohmygosh, the origonal questioner says, "I can't believe I forgot that." But that did not stop the feelings of bitterness for the gentleman is still not going to buy Linksys. Now we all can see how foolish this is in the light of the fact that the caller was well informed enough to state that he could build a better router himself yet he forgot a very basic thing about home router systems. Gee whiz, even wunderkinds make mistakes. To all of us, take advantage of a trouble call, they were in this case kind enough to talk even out of warrentee, so walk through the problem together. That process often results in reminding yourself of other options and provides insight for the first line helpdesk person.

techrepublic
techrepublic

Linksys produces a mass market product that is very competively priced. Considering the market situation, I think the product and support are excellent for the price of the product. While I can understand your expectation that they support the product without regard to operating system or age, the realities of the market and business model may prevent that. And in fact, if you do an in depth survey of the market, you will find that most company's that produce low priced, mass market, technical products have much more limited policy than Linksys. I think that if you need a router for a mission critical application, you should be willing to pay the price. For the router and the support it includes.

jeddy
jeddy

Perhaps you should've said you were running Windows, followed their script and let them escalate the problem. My experience, after my own troubleshooting, is to follow along with the TS agents's script. If I know that a reboot is not necessary or won't solve the issue, when they say reboot, I wait 15 seconds or so and I say "OK, I've rebooted". It's often painful for my arrogant self to go through the most redimentary steps with a 1st level TS agent. But, my objective usually is to have faulty equipment replaced and the 1st level agent stands between me and my objective.

curtis
curtis

Look, most tech support departments are staffed by well meaning people who are largely forced to read from a script. Their conversations are recorded and if they deviate, they will be fired. It is that simple. Would you like to work is such environment? I wouldn't. You have a right to be bent out of shape, and if you want to stop using Linksys or Cisco products because of this, then go right a head. But don't trash the router, send it to me. Or donate it to a worthy non-profit organization. The reality is that, like the Macintosh, Linux is a scarey subject for the managers of most tech support departments. I was in the local CompUSA a few months ago, and the tech support desk person told me with great pride that he "didn't know nothin about Macs." Most of these companies hire people with zero technical skills to work in their departments and pay them the minimum salary. You are aware of that, of course? The bottom line of this little story is that until the corporate bigwigs are willing to pay salaries that will attract and retain people with a technical background you, and a the rest of us, will have to deal with this sad truth. But of course the corporate big wigs will probably tell you, with great pride, that "we don't know nothing about Linux."

wselph
wselph

It is getting bad out there. Last week I dumped Symantec after 15+ years because their tech support is lousy. I took back my Toshiba HD DVD player yesterday because "they don't know when it will be fixed". It would not play a HD DVD movie... Problem is movie by movie.

granitech
granitech

I can relate to the "Support" experience and unfortunately we all too often don't rail enough at the lack of effective support, and in many cases, getting to a 2nd or 3rd tier level of support when you are already a kowledgeable technician and simply need a competent "tech-to-tech" communication. Linksys is Cisco's cash cow for the masses. Every big box store and office supply chain you seethe familiar blue/orange boxes overshadowing the NETGEAR stock, etc. Many buying these routers today are home users, not techies, and they want one thing - SIMPLE. As Linksys continues to promote the "Set it and forget it" notion of their user-level router products, they we continue to gain market share from the masses that know they "need" a wireless set up in their home now, but want to have it up and flying in 10 minutes. Doesn't matter if it runs Linux since most consumer computers run Windows. Mass marketing isn't about pushing the best product to the public, it's about convincing the public that a mediocre product is the "Best" product for them... Gotta love capitalism... :)

dcooper
dcooper

In the third from bottom paragraph in your post you get something wrong. It's means "it is." You should use the possessive form, "its." This may be trivial to a CNET writer but I assure you it is as important as putting a comma in the wrong place in a long line of code. The overall message fails on small errors.

mikeholli
mikeholli

First off Mr I think Linux RULES the world! READ your linksys Router box, you'll be surprised that with reading it that it's for WINDOWS!!!! There is NOTHING on their printed material laying CLAIM that it will work with any flavor of Linux, or Linux setup, NOT even the popular ubuntu Linux O/S that I personally run. BUT a funny thing happened after I read your post, I went over to the ubuntu website and what do you KNOW, they have step - by - step instructions pertaining to your problem. DON'T BLAME SUPPORT, WHEN YOU CAN'T EVEN TAKE 2 SECONDS OUT OF YOUR LIFE TO FIND THE ANSWER ON YOUR OWN!!!

Fujikid2
Fujikid2

This is not a support problem. It is a fundamental problem with the open source ideology. I work for a driver company. We sell drivers to many OEMs for all versions of Windows from 3.x(Still!) to Vista. We sell drivers to a few OEMs for MAC from OS9(Still!) to Intel OSX. We have also waisted our time developing a driver core for Intel based Linux distros. This meets the same high quality and performance standards of our Windows and Mac core but no OEM has ever bought a single driver. Top 3 reasons in order: 1) Even using the LGPL they are worried that they will be forced to open up their IP. 2) There's not enough requirement from the market. 3) There is no value in supporting Linux as the users expect everything for next to nothing. The Linux community only has itself to blame for the lack of hardware support.

sdrury
sdrury

Having been brought up on a diet of Cisco my home choice invariably was Linksys, but the support for a recent issue was also just as dire. Cisco either need to start doing spot-checks on their kit and support organisation - or they ditch them and make their SME kit more affordable to the home consumer ...

AllenTech
AllenTech

Your ISP and Hosting service did really give you a definite answer, they just pointed you somewhere else. Anyways, in my honest opinion, we should be learned of whatever technology we buy, we should depend on ourselves on dealing with the technologies because dealing with tech support can really be frustrating, unless you paid for the support.

ptheoc
ptheoc

I have been doing helpdesk cust serv for a few years, not IT. When an IT or NASA emp or an engineer of some type calls for help I know it is going to take longer and I will have to use more self-control to NOT ask "If you are so smart why are you calling me? Now are you ready to do what I recommend or shall we read more from your diary/resume". If I cannot speak their particular Nomenclature I must be an idiot. I just got PAID for talking you thru IT. Who is smarter?

--GJ-- at csi ottawa dot ca
--GJ-- at csi ottawa dot ca

Some time ago, Linksys was an up and coming equipment maker. I used some of their products and was very impressed with the quality. Then Cisco started to realize that they had a competitor who sold equipment at a fraction of the Cisco price, so Cisco bought Linksys. Even since then, the quality of the Linksys product line has deteriorated. I classify current Linksys products as toys.

uberg33k50
uberg33k50

that I would address. 1st - We used to have Cisco/Linksys products and I dropped them because once their products reach EOL you cannot get support for ANY price. They just won't even talk to you. Their products are too expensive to just replace them because THEY decided they reached the end of life. 2nd - One of the reasons I haven't done more with Linux is because for all the hype about EVERYONE going to Linux there are still too many pieces of hardware that either do not support it or it takes twice as long to get it to work. (Take note Linux soilders, I am not slamming Linux but the hardware manufacturers). Would I drop them...you bet, I already did.

batch52
batch52

I think you should consider how much your few dollars of Linux support will actually cost you. Since the router as you rightly point out has nothing to do with the OS and is web browser managed I think you should be more focused on the fact that the help desk script is not very intellegent and not focused on solving your problem. It seems to me you are focused on bashing Linksys for not being a Linux supporter without consider the economic impact on their costs. Especially when you consider that the Linksys product line is a low end product that is geared to the novice users with very little network knowledge. The fact that you don't fit their market model is not necessiarily a reason to change that model. By the same token if you purchased the device in question knowing this upfront would you be as upset with them?

Justin James
Justin James

I know it can be pretty frustrating being a non-Windows or OS X user at the consumer level. I have the same kinds of issues myself, what with my FreeBSD server sitting behind my IPCop router at home. However, this is part of the price I pay to use software outside of the mainstream. Just as I do not expect PepBoys to be able to maintain a kit car or a McDonalds to add the "Justin Special" to the menu, I cannot expect a company like Linksys to provide tech support for what amounts to an enthusiast OS *at the consumer level* is a matter of bad expectations on your part, not bad management. Unless that Linksys box said "supports Linux" right next to "supports Windows", why *should* you expect support? Because of some sense of customer entitlement? No way. If they only support Windows, then that is the support you bought. Period. "First they tell me they can't REALLY answer my question because my router is more than a year old. THEN the customer support rep asks me the dreaded question "Which version of Windows are you using?"" What, you think that Linksys is going to put even more time and money training Help Desk personell, who are nothing but a cost center, for the 1% of home users who use Linux? No way. Let's get real. Linux users are always bragging about how much smarter they are than Windows users, what, with rolling their own kernels and such. Well, maybe Linksys took them seriously, and said, "hey, these wildcat rebels roll their own drivers and use Google instead of manuals, we do not need to support them!" Or al.ternatively, there was the cost issue. Most of those help desk people either read from a script or are the folks that Geek Squad wouldn't hire. I called Linksys once. The guy (literally) did not know the difference between a "switch" and a "hub" (I was calling because all of their literature referred to a device as a "hub"). Guess what? I am still willing to buy Linksys stuff. On top of all of that, Linksys's help desk probably has a real simple policy: reset the router once or twice, if it still doesn't work blame the other equipment, if the users calls back replace the device. Help desk calls tend to cost upwards of $7 each (for a password reset) to a lot more for advanced topics. They may be lucky to have made $5 selling that device to you. You think that they are going to swallow their profit margin to keep you happy? What's worse, is that if you are happy, you will buy another device in the future, losing them even more money. Just what they want! Finally, call me crazy, but using one's status as a writer for CNet just rubs me the wrong way. This is *purely personal opinion*, but I wanted to put it out there. I have never once done it myself. I want to be able to talk about the typical customer experience, not the experience that I had because the company was trying to get a good review or something. The closest that I have come, is when a few companies contacted TechRepublic and they passed it on to me. I have never informed a company of my situation myself, until the item was written and sent in. To try using it as a lever during a help desk call is simply something I would never do. J.Ja

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

sound harsh, but I agree. If a pice of hardware does not work, take it back, get a refund, or trade it in on something else. If its been in use for a while, bite the bullet, take the loss and move on with a new purchase. I cant say I like linksys, I have had a lot of problems in the past, and I will probably never buy another one, but, at the same time, I will probaly never buy another consumer grade router again either. Currently I run a cisco 871 with cable internet. My router has not crashed one me once in over a year. I have not had to reboot because it locked up. My internet access does not get bogged down just because two or 3 other computers on the network are accessing the internet and or downloading. The laod I put on a router I do not feel is atypical. At any given moment throughout the day, I am using between 1.5 and 2.5 Mbps of my rated 3Mbps, and almost all of the upload bandwidth. For even a low end cisco like the 871, this barely puts my cpu use at 10% and I never have less then 64 MB of free ram. A consumer grade router is lucky to have 16 MB of ram, 8 is more realistic. And low end 100Mhz processors are also common. But with the cost of downloading and burning a cd, I can build a router out of discarded/old machines for free, and with superior speed compared to my 871 (due to more ram and better processor speed for processing firewall rules on a per packet basis. With no firewall applied, the CISCO is actually faster.)

anne.powel
anne.powel

I totally agree. It's kind of similar to walking into a "famous burger" joint and being upset because they don't have your brand of silken tofu. Yep, lots of people eat silken tofu but the place is marketing to the main group of (admittedly overweight) consumers. You could ask them politely if they can help you with a *nix issue? Ever think of that? Good luck with your blood pressure, Mr. Wallen.

mikeholli
mikeholli

I agree with you on this 100%. I would like to further state that everything in the hardware portion of the computer field is also mass market, even people think companies like Dell, Gateway, Alienware are created for them, and them alone. THIS is NOT true. Everyone of these companies WILL go the extra step and add in componen(s) that isn't in the original description of the hardware. With Lynksys I find their product to be a perfect fit and you cannot beat the price.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

but, in fairness, sometimes problems can be hard to find solutions for. And, there is the classic "can't find s**t on the internet" syndrome that affects many people. Its not that they dont try, they just lack "talent" "skill" or "luck" in finding solutions online. A friend of mine is fond of saying the difference between IT and Users, is that IT is better with google. Argue all you want., but there is a grain of truth to that.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

not have bad hardware support. It only has problems with new hardware. Linux, I would argue, has better ahrdware support off the install then Windows or Mac. Why? Because all those old drivers are still there, waiting, or have been rebuilt into a newer driver with backwards compatibility. As for OEMs buying linux drivers...umm, there arent many that sell linux preinstalled, of the few that do, they either use the default drivers in the OS base and carefully select their hardware (EmperorLinux), or they custom build drivers/hardware (IBM/Sun). I am not really suprised that the driver base has not been bought, there is a very good chance that drivers already existed for the specific hardware.

LightSpeed
LightSpeed

I got a recording via email from a friend which exemplifies helpdesk demeanor. To make a long story short - Helpdesk told the customer to box up the computer and take it back to where he bought it from. Caller: "What do I tell them ? " HelpDsk: "Tell them you are too stupid to own a computer". I'm not sure but I think this guy lost his job ( Har ! No ... Double Har ! )

Justin James
Justin James

One of my favorites was some doof screaming about how he had a CCNA so the problem was our device and net his config, meanwhile he had given two devices on the network the same IP address. The more titles the guy had, the worse it was, because you knew that your paycheck looked like his taxes, or maybe his 401(k) deductions. And yet, he treats you like dirt, even though you know more than him about at least one subject... Callers to help desk often do not realise that there is a very real risk to a worker the moment they step outside of the process, a risk that few folks would take for a total and complete stranger. And the callers are mean about it. You would explain that you could lose your job for if you did what they asked for, and they're like, "could you do it special for me?" Umm, no. J.Ja

Tig2
Tig2

Have been on the other side. I explained my issues clearly and succinctly but providing many examples of the failure (screen shots). I was told "perhaps computing via the Internet is too complex for you". I basically chewed the (20-something) slightly while waiting on his manager. It is to note that this bright young man had advised me to disable my firewall so that the packets could be unfettered...

Justin James
Justin James

... with a high end Linksys switch. At the price point (about $400 - $500, if I recall) for a 24 port GigE switch with the basics that a "real" network needed, it was a perfect fit. I got the impression from the quality of it that is was more of a stripped down Cisco switch sold under the Linksys name, than a beefed up Linksys switch. But that was a high end Linksys switch. Price wise, on a port speed and number of ports comparison to a 24 port Catalyst, it was a winner, but feature-wise, it would not meet the needs of an "enterprise class customer". this was less than a year ago, after Cisco bought them out. On the flip side, I have noticed a decline in the quality of their consumer grade stuff. That being said, Linksys was not a competitor to Cisco in the slightest. Cisco wanted to break into the consumer market, and at the time of the purchase, Linksys had a clear lead in that area. DLink and Netgear (and now, lately, Buffalo, it seems) are making gains from what I can tell. But Linksys was never a competitor to Cisco. J.Ja

pmshah
pmshah

This relates to a 4 port switch + parallel port print server. Before I purchased the unit I read the specs quite thoroughly. The whole idea was to not have to buy a printer for every PC in house nor have the need for printer attached PC to be switched on. If in this situation the print server hangs even without printing a single complete page & you have taken the unit 1/2 way across the world, what is your recourse?

jlwallen
jlwallen

i have since discovered that the traceroute is a pretty common problem with their routers. in some firmware updates no matter what you do to traceroute, regardless of OS, the router won't let the packets through. they know this is an issue but, as many have pointed out here, fixing the problem on such a low-end router doesn't make fiscal sense. but that makes me think of the old Pinto automobile gas tank issue. the makers of the Pinto knew the gas tanks were problematic and were told they would explode upon rear impact. they were also told a rubber bladder inserted into the gas tank would solve the problem. the makers of Pinto decided it would be cheaper to handle the law suits than to pony up the costs for retooling the machines that make the gas tanks. that case is now famous - and the makers of the Pinto suffered (not nearly as much as the many deaths it caused.)

highlander718
highlander718

Well, you might note from previous posts (see the one Microsoft PR) that mr. Wallen is a hard core Linux fan, he tends to see things very unilateraly and boast about the Linux side as being some sort of geniuses vs. the usual Microsoft guys as being somewhere at the bottom of the IT chain. I note the same superiority attitude I warned him about the last time.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If it was any application on the client machine then "what OS are you running" makes sense. When your talking about a independent network node managed through a browser interface "What OS is nor non-related workstation running" is about as valid as "Before we fix your computer network, what kind of car do you drive?" "We can't really help because the router is no longer supported" - fine, that's valid. You can only budget so much from the initial sales profit to support after sale service so you stick to your top ten products. As for "What OS do you run" - My computer runs a flapjack with jam on top, what do you care; let's talk about my router and what's actually relevant to fixing it. The CNet qualifier during the support call may have been a bit much for him but then, I've been frustraited enough to consider name-dropping too. I din't recall it ever working for me but maybe media credentials inspire a different reaction.

msg464
msg464

I was listening to the writer in the article right up until he pulled that CNET Writer card, and then the whole thing just fell apart for me. it's laughable. who cares if you're a writer for CNET. that's like one of those jackass food critics trying to scare a restaurant into giving him a free meal lest he give them a poor review. so you're gonna threaten and give a poor help desk kid a hard time because the company he works for hasn't given him any information on Linux? sorry if you were offended he assumed you were using Windows. it was a simple, granted irrelevant question, but he was just asking for some background, no doubt he was a bit frazzled. and now to write an entire article ranting about the poor customer service... bah. I think I'm done reading this guy's columns. how 'bout that?

LightSpeed
LightSpeed

A few year back when I still had my IBM Thinkpad 366, I had bought a DLink Wireless PCMCIA card and could not "hook up" to a Linksys wireless router using site survey. I called support and they couldn't figure it out either, after following all the basic steps. This card worked everywhere including motels, airports and even TMobile at Starbucks. Their solution? Buy a Linksys card...haha. Well, stupid me, I did and guess what? DHCP worked fine at home on the Linksys router, although I did have some assorted problems with the other locations mentioned. Good thing I kept the DLink card. BTW, thought this was a post to the main thread. Didn't mean to reply to your post.

Justin James
Justin James

Insulting a customer or making snide remarks is always a mistake, I agree. But I will admit, I had more patience with the obviously clueless customers than the ones who should have known better. And I really did not like people throwing their "weight" around over the phone; as the previous commenter said, "if your $250 an hour consultant self is so smart, why are you caling my $13 an hour self?" J.Ja

batch52
batch52

My process for purchasing new to me equipment is to review the specs to narrow the field then I search the web for specific experiences with the equipment I'm interested in. In my experience the manufacturer is presenting his equipment in the best light he can to get sales and does not always point out the pit falls an end user may encounter. Defective equipment is just that, but equipment that does not do what you want is a completely different story. Reliability and technical breadth are two important elements for me when I know I'm going to be out on my own after the purchase. Having a black box with no support is not fun. I realize the your case is specific and seems very straight forward. It would be an interesting exercise to check what other user encounted with that specific hardware.

jlwallen
jlwallen

sometimes when you're near the point of frustration with a situation like that, letting a company know that you a writer for a company like CNET will land you instantly on an upper tier support desk. why? they don't want the bad publicity. and many of the writers i know, for any publication genre, does the same thing. movie critics wanting to get into sold-out movies. food critics getting good tables fast. it's one of the very few perks writers get. it's sad but true. at least i'm honest about it. ;-)

Justin James
Justin James

When the help desk guy's script involves CLI tools, for example, the OS makes a difference. For example, "traceroute" in *Nix is "tracert" in Windows. I know, that example is weak, but it is important. Sure, re-writing the script to include *Nix commands in many cases is fairly trivial. But a ton of training does (or should, at least) go into things like walking the user through clicking through the network configuration. It can be extremely expensive to train and document for more than one or two OS's, particularly at the pace that Linux grows and develops. For example, with the huge number of various Linux firewalls, do you really want to train a help desk to figure out how to see if a port is accidentally blocked? No way. It is a lot easier to train a help desk person to know a few major Windows firewalls and be done with it. Heck, half of the *Nix's out there have different directory hierarchies... do you really want to train for that? "Sir, are you using inet, rc.d, or a mix?" I've worked Help Desk; the first thing you are trained is to determine if the user is officially supported (OS, software confuiguration, within support period, etc.) and to drop the person ASAP if they are not supported, in order to take the next call from someone who *is* supported. To put it another way, the person who calls in and badgers the help desk for support is making your hold time go up, you support contract more expensive, and your purchase price higher. J.Ja

robin.scorthorne
robin.scorthorne

I take the point that a helpdesk should understand that the OS is irrelevant but the article is also arguing for more understanding of Linux - that doesn't come about by losing your rag with junior manufacturer staff that maybe don't have your experience. I'd have liked it if you had offered some advice or told him you were a CNET writer and pointed him to your history of constructive and helpful explanatory articles.

jlwallen
jlwallen

I didn't mention that in a threatening way to that help desk worker. The worker was commiserating with me on my plight. I didn't make a threat. I just said it was something I would write about...and I did. I am, admittedly so, a Linux zealot. I have been since the mid 90s. I stand up for the OS every chance I get. And I always will. I was with it when it was still in the basements of every geek worth his weight in +2 cloaks of hiding. Now it's come out of the closet and I, like many others, still trumpet its battle cry every time I feel the need. And if it weren't for those yelling that battle cry, Linux wouldn't be where it is today. And no, I'm not taking any credit for how far Linux has come, I'm just saying that those people who forced Linux down the throats of IT and various companies have been, in a sense, a salvation to the operating system. You may read my words or not. I will keep writing them. Sometimes I write in the hopes of sparking a good debate about an open source issue. Sometimes I rant about a topic. But what I really focus on is making people think about open source. I try not to make them think of it in a bad light. Sometimes I fail at that - that's to be expected. But I will continue to cause debate...heated debate at times...that's one of those things I do best (or so I'm told.)

Jaytmoon
Jaytmoon

I have a linksys 54g router and a Dlink Aircard for my old notebook and it works just fine. I did need to enter some security keys in manually but, it does work.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

When I baught my first wifi NIC it was Linksys to go with my shinny new router. I found it worked great at home but sucked rocks everywhere else including the completely open network at the school I was in back then. In my case the solution was a pretty simple fix. I stopped using the Linksys drivers with the novelty bloatware management software it provided. As soon as I limited the Linksys to a pure driver only install and used the built in Windows wifi management, everything worked clean at home and around town. I need the hardware from the vendor but I'll now always check the non-vendor software as a viable alternative first.

Tig2
Tig2

But should have taken the time to ask him what colour the sky was in HIS world! "What would you do with a brain if you had one?" Dorothy- Wizard of Oz Another good question to have asked...

Tig2
Tig2

But I was doing only something that I thought might help- provide information. I will occasionally provide a rough idea of my personal qualifications. Not often and only based on audience. I likely make a heck of a lot more than our Call Center folks. But I can't fix my own machine because I don't have the access levels to the machine required. When it is my home pc, the landscape changes- but only slightly. When my known good connection fails, I troubleshoot the problem on the box. If I can't fix it but can get visibility to the root cause, I capture and communicate it. I have never called in a problem that wasn't the responsibility of the provider.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

is the best I have encountered to date. Maybe I just keep getting lucky, but all 3 times I have had to call them (2 PIX related issues and a router issue)they have resolved the issue quickly and effeciently. One of those issues was due to a pix log server being set up to use TCP. The logging station was an ancient machine that even we got around to retireing. Well, needless to say, I forgot to redirect the PIX to a new logging server, and since it was TCP based protocol, I DOSed my own PIX after about 8 hours when I shut down the old workstation. =\ Having no PIX training at all, it never crossed my mind to check the protocol of the logging, I just assumed (the problem I guess) that I could point a new log server at the PiX latter.

Justin James
Justin James

... when it is proven hardware failure, and that is just to get an RMA and have a nice day. It is not that I am cynical about support; if you pay big bucks for a support contract, you are entitled to speak to a high level, big bucks pro. It is just that I am not willing to pay big bucks for support. In exchange for keeping cash in my pocket, I have consigned myself to nights of Internet queries, poring through man pages, and other free resources to resolve problems. One of the developers at my company put it really well in a conversation yesterday. He had to call Microsoft via MSDN for help with a problem. The MSDN license had 1 free call, additional calls are around $250 each. But the way he sees it, that $250 to spend 2 hours on the phone will save him a week's worth of time; a $60,000/year programmer probably costs around $50/hour to keep on the clock. Looked at that way, $250 for a 2 hour call is cheap. The same for "enterprise class" networking gear. I've sat on the phone while an onsite tech worked with the Cisco TAC. The Cisco TAC guys are top notch, I promise you. But that's part of the difference between a $2,000 Cisco cable modem router and a $50 Linksys cable modem router, even though they have nearly identical firmware and hardware (not sure if they do), other than the rack mount form factor. The Cisco router comes with a crack commando squad of support techs behind it, while the Linksys router comes with... well, the negative experience you had. Just try calling for DSL support from Bell South. Their support is done (at least partially) by a local outsourcing call center. I've seen their ads, they start you off at $6.50 per hour with a requirement of basic computer skills, speaking English, and a hish school diploma. Basically, you apply there when you get tired of digging ditches for a living. It is for companies that want offshore savings but with a domestic accent. Stuff like that is why I spent nearly double for a business class Time Warner account; when I call in to support, I go straight to a Level 2 desk (rarely with hold time), with "on demand" escalation to Level 3 24 x 7. If that fails, I have an account manager with whom I am on a first name basis with, who walks over to the call center when I am failing to get results, and acts as my advocate. I get a 9x6x4 dispatch time, and they will send someone out to test my lines simply because I ask them to. I'm on a network 100% separate from the consumers once I hit the CLAM. The price is, I spend $94 per month for a cable modem service with a much lower bandwidth (but my bandwith is guaranteed!) than a consumer gets for $40 per month. And the support is worth every dime to me, since I have a server here. Not really beating up on you, just illustrating the differences between the "free" support at the consumer level, and the "pay through the nose" support at a "business" level. J.Ja

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I think in this case the client OS was less important than ther cases but I understand the point. Budgets for training will always be a limitiation. To make things worse *nix based OS are all seporate OS assembled from the same parts bins; it's hard enough for regular users to thin Windows vs *nix vs applications let along what *nix kernel based OS they are using.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i never really thought of it that way. i guess ultimately the company's concerns aren't really customer support but the customer's dollars. to that end support must be taken care of as quickly as possible. that would lend me to call customer support even less than i do now (it's rare as it is.) thanks for those insights.

jlwallen
jlwallen

i offered such help. but very quickly it became apparent that any help i could give him would go over his head. one thing i must clarify - i was not, in any way, disrespectful or cruel to the help desk person. in fact we had a great conversation that ended very jovially. my ire was at the company - not the help. and i did make that very clear to him. i told him how grateful i was for his help and he was, in fact, as helpful as he could be. so i didn't lay the fault on the help desk person. i thought i was clear in the blog that the frustration was aimed at the company for not supporting an OS - especially one that has gained such popularity in the world of networking.

Justin James
Justin James

... calling in late at night. Or better yet, next time you speak to them, try to weasel out of them when their period of lowest call volume is, and call in then. The worker who may stick strictly to the "sorry, not supported" script when the average hold time is 10 minutes and managers are screaming might very well be willing to share some "secret undocumented knowedge" when he has not had a call in an hour. This happened to me all of the time when I worked 2nd shift. Until 7 PM or so, I stuck strictly to the company line... no support for a lot of things, all *Nix calls that look like software issues get automatically kicked up to Level 2, etc. After 7 PM? I was more than happy to talk shop, including unsupported items, *Nix, etc. Was it that I did not know how to edit fstab and had to kick that up to L2? No. It was that I had metrics like "average talk time" and "average wait time" and my livlihood depended on meeting those numbers. To kill my metrics (read: promotions, continued employment, bonuses, etc.) over someone wanting me to do something that I am told specifically to not do? Not happening. If it did not hurt the metrics, management did not care. So go ahead and give that a try. There is nothing wrong in and of itself about being a Linux zealot; I happily promote BSD where appropriate. But to berate the world for not conforming to your choices is just silly. It's like being a nudist and getting mad when a restaurant refuses to seat you. Linksys is aimed squarely at the consumer market (Windows + Mac = 99% of the market). To expect them to put as much (if not more, thanks to the rapidly changing and filled with permutations world of Linux) money into training for a 1% of the market (and since Linux users tend to be more expert, and even smaller number of actual callers) as they do for the 95% and 4% folks is rediculous. By way of market share, non-Windows and non-Mac users deserve help desk guys with 1% of the training, which means they know how to pronounce "GNU" and that is it. Good luck finding a router maker priced at $50 - $75 per router (for 801.11N + 4 port switch!) that officially supports Linux (let alone BSD or Solaris). If you find one, let me know. J.Ja

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

with ATI video cards. The latter drivers require DotNet to be installed if you want to use the card management interface. Well, guess what, even on clean installs of windows/dotnet, that interface can crash your OS. Nowdays, I just install the basic driver. So I may not be able to change settings on the card, but 9/10 the defaults are fine.

LightSpeed
LightSpeed

Wish I would have thought of that. seems like a viable alternative. Thx.