Copyright © 2005-2010 James H Billiter. All rights reserved.
There are two discussions so far:
Aplus.net hosting service
Motorola® SURFBoard® Wireless Cable Modem Gateway
The "upgrading" was something of a nightmare, and you may find discussions about being "upgraded" by Aplus.net all over the Internet. This is my small contribution to attest Aplus's ineptness. I moved my Web sites to a new hosting service in mid-February in utter disgust with Aplus.net's support.
During my short time trying to get my sites working on Aplus.net's server I used their documentation (knowledge base) extensively and interacted with support personnel by telephone perhaps four times. I also submitted two trouble tickets via their control panel, the last of which is transcribed below.
My big problem at first was that all my CGI scripts stopped working after the "upgrade". Prospective customers could not download my trial software, much less actually buy a license.
To fix this I needed access to my files on Aplus.net's server, so I tried to log on using SSH (secure shell) as I had done with my Cedant service a few days earlier. Not working. Darn! Thus my first call to Aplus.net support. After I established my bona fides, I said that SSH was not working, and the discussion became incomprehensible thereafter, though I recall getting no response to the question, "Is SSH supported on your host?" Inconclusive. So then to the documentation, the knowledge base. There were instructions for enabling SSH and providing a public key. So, I enabled SSH, but the place to provide my public key was not where the documentation pointed. Darn! So, completely frustrated, I gave up on SSH.
Thus my first encounter with Aplus.net support. Not exactly propitious. I will not bore you with my ensuing interactions until the last, except to say that one other Aplus.net person was completely non-responsive (after she somehow articulated her name) and another told me that anonymous FTP was not supported, to be contradicted a day later by yet other support person. (Since I use anonymous FTP to download my software products, you can imagine my panic. And my anger to find anon FTP was really supported after spending 1/2 day's effort to develop and test a circumvention to the sudden lack of an anonymous FTP feature. Grrrrr...)
Now, to my last encounter with Aplus.net support.
I could not mamage my sub-domain's Web sites with SSH, so I ended up using FTP to upload files and a GUI (called File Manager) in the control panel to set permissions and suchlike. The File Manager GUI looks nice but its dozen or so commands cannot compete with the hundreds available with the Unix shell and utilities. I would call Aplus.net's approach to managing Web sites clunky. Maybe even bodgie.
Early in this exercise I had tried telnet, SSH's predecessor, and it too had failed. But now, with my downloads and ordering fuctionality finally working again, I tried telnet once more and documented the problem. I submitted a trouble ticket (#2417161) via Aplus.net's control panel and my ensuing dialogue with Aplus is in the incredible transcript below.
Here is a summary on the five-day interchange in the transcript.
As background, I quote from Aplus.net's FAQ or knowledgebase:
"Can I use Telnet?
Telnet can be used on the Aplus.net shared hosting platform."
Me: Telnet is not working. Here's the failure symptom.
Aplus: Why do you want to use telnet?
[What? Hello? Because I want to manage my sub-domain? That last in an e-mail message not recorded by the trouble ticket application.]
Me: I responded by e-mail hours ago, and it is still broken.
Aplus: Provide details, screenshot.
Me: I already did in my initial report four days ago.
Aplus: Telnet is working. See how well our telnet client reads the HTTP port 80?
Telnet uses port 23, and it was not working. These support people were actually mocking me,
Trouble ticket transcript begins: ================== Management options for ticket: 2417161 Ticket Details Ticket ID:2417161 Department:Aplus Support Status:Resolved Priority:Medium Date Created:2010-02-04 15:36:19 Date Modified:2010-02-09 21:21:20 Subject:telnet not working FTP Username:billiter DS Number:n/a Domain Name:billiter.com << Back to Listing Reopen Ticket Conversation ------------------ - James Billiter email@example.comPosted on: 2010-02-04 15:36:19 I cannot telnet into billiter.com. Here is the failure messaage from Windows XP's telnet client: --- C:\>telnet billiter.com Connecting To billiter.com...Could not open connection to the host, on port 23: Connect failed --- Thanks ------------------ - Aplus Support firstname.lastname@example.orgPosted on: 2010-02-05 10:56:48 The ticket # 2417161 that was submitted for billiter.com, regarding your request, requires further information to process the support request. In order for us to investigate this issue, please provide us with the following information to assist us in processing the support ticket: We kindly ask you to specify your request and tell us the purpose of the telnet connection. If we have not received this information within 24 hours we will send you a reminder. The ticket will be held in “Pending Status” until we receive a reply. We look forward to assisting you with resolving this issue; if you have any questions or concerns about the requested information please do not hesitate to let us know. ------------------ - James Billiter||Pending reply email@example.comPosted on: 2010-02-05 17:28:05 I responded to your query by e-mail hours ago. It is still broken, and the problem (issue?) is still in the pending reply state. What goes? Cordially, Jim Billiter ------------------ - Aplus Support firstname.lastname@example.orgPosted on: 2010-02-08 12:31:02 The ticket # 2417161 that was submitted for billiter.com, regarding your request, requires further information to process the support request. In order for us to investigate this issue, please provide us with the following information to assist us in processing the support ticket: In order for us to investigate this issue, please provide us with more detailed description of your issue, your exact steps that trigger experienced issue. Providing of any clarifying screen shots will be greatly appreciated. If we have not received this information within 24 hours we will send you a reminder. The ticket will be held in “Pending Status” until we receive a reply. We look forward to assisting you with resolving this issue; if you have any questions or concerns about the requested information please do not hesitate to let us know. ------------------ - James Billiter||Pending reply email@example.comPosted on: 2010-02-08 13:17:10 All that you requested was in my initial ticket four days ago. The information between the two "---" separators is from a screen shot. ------------------ - Aplus Support firstname.lastname@example.orgPosted on: 2010-02-09 21:21:20 The ticket # 2417161 that was submitted for billiter.com, regarding your telnet connection issue, has returned from our investigation. It has been determined that telnet connection to your domain works properly and we were able to view a test.html file, please see connection log bellow: :~> telnet billiter.com 80 Trying 126.96.36.199... Connected to billiter.com. Escape character is '^]'. GET http://billiter.com/test.html <html> <body> <center><font color=red>HElloWorld!!!</font></center> </body> </html>Connection closed by foreign host. :~> We have now closed the ticket with regards to this issue. If you do require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be glad continue working with you. ==================== Trouble ticket transcript ends.
Given that, I am amazed that its routing function seems to have been deliberately crippled.
The table below shows some tests indicating that the 900 will route packets ONLY if its DHCP server's table contains an entry for the sending host on the local network. I consider this crippling for these reasons: the 900's DHCP server cannot be disabled; traffic from a manually configured host won't be routed until the 900's DHCP server table is somehow populated with an entry for it; this needlessly entangles the very essential OSI layer three routing function with the usually nice-to-have higher layer DHCP functionality. While routing is often constrained by firewalls, NAT port forwarding, blacklisting, and the like, the constraints are configurable by the administrator. In particular, the administrator may choose to turn off some or all constraints. In the 900's case, the routing is constrained by DHCP, which cannot be disabled, even while other features like NAT, port forwarding, and the firewall permit disabling in some fashion.
The other two broadband gateways I used were not crippled in this fashion.
Now I think that the crippling is deliberate because:
a] The 900's gateway status page indicates 'DHCP Server Enabled', and - simple me - this seems to imply that the DHCP server might have some other state, like 'DHCP Server Disabled'. But, there is no way to disable the feature, unlike in the other two implementations.
b] I know quite a bit about DHCP and some about routers. Just from a DHCP perspective, this entanglement with routing seems to be a serious protocol violation. "A host should not act as a DHCP server unless explicitly configured to do so by a system administrator." [RFC 2131, p 2.] Also, "DHCP must coexist with statically configured, non-participating hosts and with existing network protocol implementations." [RFC 2131, p 7.] Like an IP packet routing protocol implementation serving a manually configured host (observation 2 below).
I would like to have a transcript of the meeting in which this bad design decision was made.
The SBG900 firmware under test is version 188.8.131.52a-SCM00-NOSH. Hardware version 2.
The Motorola support folks have told me that the 900's DHCP server may be turned off by disabling NAT. What? Another protocol entanglement with DHCP? I don't intend to investigate this ...hmmm... additional foible. Begging your pardon for a labored automobile analogy, but this is like asking the new car dealer to disable the audible alarm, and being told that it can be done only by permanently removing the doors.
Additional responses from Motorola will be posted here:
|DHCP and Router Interaction - SBG900||2/2005 JHB|
|DHCP range||Router settings||Test IP address||900 routes ping?||Notes|
|(with DNS / wo DNS)|
|1] 192.168.0.10 - ..25||Fwall off, NAT on||..10 dynamic||YES / YES|
|2] 192.168.0.10 - ..25||Fwall off, NAT on||..46 manual||NO / NO||Ping req timeout,|
|but DNS responded|
|3] 192.168.0.10 - ..25||Fwall off, NAT on,||..46 manual||NO / NO||Can't define ..46 to|
|..46 Static on 900||900 - out of range|
|4] 192.168.0.10 - ..25||Fwall off, NAT on,||..20 manual||NO / NO||Ping req timeout,|
|..20 not in DHCP tab||but DNS responded|
|5] 192.168.0.10 - ..25||Fwall off, NAT on,||..20 manual||YES / YES||No DHCP exchange|
|..20 static, inactive||from ..20 to 900|
|6] 192.168.0.10 - ..25||Fwall off, NAT on,||..20 dynamic||YES / YES||1 hour static lease!?|
|..20 static, active|
|DHCP and Router Interaction - SBG900|