Chris, the Young One (hedgee) wrote,
Chris, the Young One

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Initital reaction to Woosh

Little-known trivia: I never intended to use JetStream forever. It was a stop-gap measure to get an always-on internet connection to host my web site because at the time (January 2001), the Walker Wireless technicians deemed the reception at my place to be too atrocious.

With that out of the way, it should come as no surprise that I'm deciding finally to be rid of JetStream. Its costs, especially the traffic excess cost, has become too high to be comfortable. For months I've heard about this new service called Woosh that Walker Wireless (or whatever they're calling themselves now) released to provide wireless broadband access to mainstream users. So I thought, why not try now?

Luckily, the reception is quite usable now from the same location. (I'm posting this via my Woosh connection, for example.) The speeds have been good so far, and VNC is still tolerable (i.e., no slower than with my JetStream connection, which suggests that latencies lay elsewhere).

Also on the bright side, current indications suggest that they don't use transparent proxying. (All I'm going to say is that if you're being transparently proxied, you're not getting real internet access. I already run a web cache in my network, and don't need another one upstream.)

However, setting this up hasn't been without struggles (especially if you're a Linux user, as I am). The rest of the article talk about these. Read if you're a geek.

Aside: Woosh uses IPWireless as its wireless infrastructure, and the modems you buy from Woosh resellers are IPWireless products. So I found a lot of material by Googling for IPWireless.

Anyway, the default Woosh connection kit comes with a USB connector for the modem; it would cost $30-odd more for an ethernet connector. The main disadvantage is that the official driver for the USB modem interface is Windows-only. The ethernet interface works with any PPPoE-supporting system. Regardless, the initial setup has to be done using the Windows-only IPWireless software, in order to write user information to the modem.

Predictably, I don't have any native Windows machines. I'm a Unix user, remember! No problem: I have Windows XP set up on my VMware. Or so I thought. Keen to save money, I decided not to buy the ethernet connector, sticking to the USB interface instead. Sadly, VMware didn't like this too much, and vmware-vmx decided to get stuck in a 100% CPU loop.

So, I was forced to get the ethernet connector after all. Thankfully, VMware did much better this time. And using VMware's snapshot feature, I basically ensured that the IPWireless software—which had a couple of unsigned drivers—did not stay installed longer than necessary. (I never trust uninstallers anyway.) Did I mention how awesome VMware is for setting up sandboxes?

And now that I have the ethernet connector (which, by the way, is a crossover cable, so you need to hook it up to the uplink port on your switch), I don't need a Windows system to use the modem!

All that aside, I'm satisfied with the service so far. However, I will be losing my static IP (which my JetStream connection provided). It's no big loss to me; I'm just going to set up an SSH tunnel through which email can be relayed from the Spillville server, which henceforth becomes my sole mail exchanger.

However, if you've been using my former static IP address,, as NS or backup MX, you'd better talk to me now, before you get nasty surprises. Chances are good that all it takes is to simply move your zone data (or whatever) to the Spillville machine.

Also, this is a good time to remind those using my old Spillville IP addresses, and, that they need to update them to the new ones as soon as possible. Just update your NS and MX records! I'm forced to surrender them really really soon.

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