Regular readers of this blog (yes, both of you!) may remember
directory that this post appears in as the collection of my Comcastic (yeah
right) experiences with my ISP.
But I think this week may top everything. I’ll just try to jot down some notes before I forget all the gory details:
- On Tuesday, I edited one of the internal
nvramconfiguration variables of my
trusted wrt54g router in order to add
the older daughter’s shiny new iPod Touch to the set of ‘permitted’ MAC addresses.
This router, running a custom Linux variant called OpenWRT
had essentially not been upgraded since I first installed it, and still required a quick reboots after updating of
configuration values. However, that worked fairly flawelessly for 4 1/2 years. Until Tuesday.
Upon reboot, I got what appeared to be an invalid network setup from the cable modem. IP and Gateway assigned ,
but no DNS and no ability to ping anywhere. Crap. So I fiddled with this all evening, including a service call to
Comcast but to no avail. When a laptop was directly plugged into the cable modem, it got correct settings albeit on
a completely different subnet. So for the next day, we left one machine directly plugged so that my wife could at
Somehow it became apparent that waiting insanely long for the router to remain powered-down — and we’re talking
five minutes or longer — helped. So by now we were suspecting the cable modem. I use a standard Motorola SB5101 I
once had to buy in a rush
because of the Comcastic ones
who all of a sudden changed their minimum requirements which meant they would no longer connect to my existing
modem. Anyway. So on Wednesday I called Motorola and had a decent service call with them but as I was at work I
couldn’t follow up with part numbers etc pp. At least I learned that I seem to have two months of the two-year
So by Wednesday evening I decided to fall back to the
really cheap and old
Speedstream router I had used before the Linksys wrt54g. That worked, albeit sloooooowly. Wired and wireless
ethernet, direct assignment from the cable modem. All well. But did I mention it was sloooow though?
Thursday evening was skipped as I was at the
Chicago R meeting
we organize to complement our R / Finance conferences in the spring.
Given that the cable modem worked with the old Speedstream and with directly-connected machines, I decided to
finally go for a long overdue update of the wrt54g software. So that happened on Friday, i.e. yesterday. And
similar to my
previous wrt54g notes, I needed to flash the
new software with the tftp protocol and a helper script on a laptop connected to the router. All this took a while
as I needed to remember to also send to a ping flood to the router to be able to catch the tftp request, needed to
test which of the
tftpbinaries worked reliably, and whether the router prefers
.trximages when using the
tftpprotocol. But lo and behold
this worked, and I configured a shiny new
Kamikaze aka 8.09.1 version of
This even connected to the cable modem once I helped with DNS entries.
OpenWRT generally rocks, and this new release is a lot nice than the more
bare-bones version I used to run.
Unfortunately, I had picked the bcrm47xx variant — the 2.6.* kernel version of the OpenWRT Project’s
software for my WRT device. And guess what, that one does not include wireless support due to issues with Broadcom
drivers and the kernel. Grrr. So once I had that confirmed this morning, I quickly switched to the bcrm-2.4
variant of the same 8.09.1 release. At least now I can flash from within using the
mtdcommand from the
But once up and running with the bcrm-2.4 release, I ran into the same issue we have had with the Motorola
cable modem and Comcast behind them. Each time I connect with the wrt54g, I end up on a specific subnet, without
DNS and with no ability to connect. The Speedstream still worked. So what to do? Well, MAC Cloning to the
rescue. Now the Linksys wrt54g pretends to be the Speedstream, and all, at last, is well again.
So after four days of intermittent service, which means that my few
blog, and goodies like
CRANberries were invisible, I now have better
router software. That could have come a little easier, and I still don’t quite know why Comcast decides to no
longer service the wrt54g under the MAC address it presented itself with for 4 1/2 years. I have paid thousands of
dollars over that time to get broadband access. But this, I don’t quite call service. To top it all off,
guess who cold-called to sell VOIP service while I wrote this up? Oh, it’s Comcastic …