The Old Saying goes...
Pick your battles.
That's not so much saying we should become inattentive to other issues, but it does mean to focus on those things that you can affect.
...And don't become like Chicken Little and make every little thing a crisis.
Pick your battles?
OK, we will.
In the past 45 days, I've done a ton of installs. Of that bunch, 17 of our clients in that 45 days had chosen AT&T DSL for their provider.
For good reason I think...
They offer a two year contract at 14.95 a month for Internet service.
Pretty good deal, huh?
Not if you are a Linux User.
In the past six months we have done a lot of installs with those who had AT&T come in before we installed the computer. Sure it was a hassle. We had to go in and manually configure the modem firmware for PPPOE, manually set up network manager and then, if the stars and planets aligned correctly, we could reset the modem and bingo...
We were connected.
Nowdays, not so much.
Of course, the requirements were a Windows Operating System and a Microsoft Explorer browser. Big surprise...an ActiveX control.
This has tested true with three different modems that AT&T provides or recommends. Two Speedstreams and the standard white 2wire modem.
Again, this seems to be a new twist...we've never had this problem before.
Bypassing the popup was impossible...at least at my level of knowledge. It stood as a sentry against the configuration page. No matter what we did, we ended up with the instructions to install the software.
Software that required Microsoft Windows or a Mac system.
From the Comments...
"...the unofficial grumblings I got from the AT&T phone reps are that only pirates use Linux. If that's the case, then this is very likely a high up, corporate wide decision and you are going to need to go high up the food chain to reach anyone with any ability to adjust policy."
As a matter of course, I have established the habit of carrying around a small laptop with Windows XP installed in order to do this. Doing so is absolutely ridiculous and should be unnecessary,
Of course, unless you go into network manager under your Linux install and do the DSL configuration, you won't connect. You will show connected but you really are not.
That's just fyi.
But to the point.
Linux has evolved as a viable presence on the desktop. I can point to 1186 cases on point. And that's just the Linux installs we've done. That doesn't touch small and medium business Linux Desktop users we've encountered through HeliOS Solutions service calls.
There are way more than you might think.
The last install I did where the client had AT&T DSL pre-ordered prior to my arrival was to me, the last straw. I gained the subscription owners name, email address and passwords in order to talk to tech support on the phone. I made no mistake in telling them that I was a Linux User from the beginning.
That seemed to shorten the call considerably.
"I'm sorry sir, we don't support Linux. You have to use Microsoft Windows or a Mac before we can connect you"
We went around for a bit until I asked to escalate the call to a tier two support specialist. Tier one refused and again stated the need for Windows or a Mac system before connection could be established. A tier two rep wouldn't be able to do anything more for me.
OK, fair enough.
From the comments...
"We have AT&T U-verse here. When first installed, it ran great. That lasted about 3 months. For some reason, our download speed dropped considerably. I called support to see what could be done. The first thing out of the techs mouth was, "Open the Windows Control Panel." I told them that I'm running Linux and I know for a fact that the issue isn't with my laptop. They sent me to Tier 2 support and the tech told me the reason the service has slowed down is because I'm running Linux. He said that Linux doesn't run well on a network. I wish I had recorded that statement because to this day, it makes me laugh and infuriates me all at the same time. Clueless people."
I have begun to ferret out those Management-types in our local area who can discuss this with us. So far, I've been given the run around but that was on the phone.
Tomorrow I will start making public appearances at the AT&T headquarters and I will find out what we can do.
And yes, I've tried to skirt around this and talk to some of their service techs off the record and see how we can fix this.
So far, no calls or emails have been returned.
From the comments...
"Just the thought of this irks me. My mother is an AT&T retiree!"
We've done the only thing we can do at this point. We've warned our potential clients of AT&T's reluctance to service them by making an announcement on our website. The announcement is on the top right of the page under "Bits and Bytes."
The best we can do right now is to warn people away from AT&T....
And maybe find the right people to talk to. We might not be able to get anything done but we can document their reluctance to recognize Linux as a legitimate operating system.
From the Comments...
"...Seems the "quality control" at AT&T could not care less. I received their confirmation email saying a customer support representative would contact me about my compliant.
That was about 3 weeks ago. We are trying to get out of our contract now and switch to Cricket. Not as cheap but I'm sure it's a whole lot better."
So out of the projected 400 installs we will do next year, approximately 1/3 of them will choose AT&T for their provider based on their cheap level of service entry. These are financially disadvantaged families
That inexpensive point of service doesn't mean much when the person has to go out and purchase a Windows license.
Of course, there is a part of me that knows versions of XP SP3 are, ahem...
Many of the folks we give computers to know this as well. Will they be tempted to pirate software in order to connect to the net? Are we to consider such an option?
This is where I am supposed to guffaw and tell you we wouldn't think of such a thing.
One option is to install an "eternally-validated" and pirated copy of XP SP3 via VirtualBox on each computer, then delete the image when we have established the Windows-dependent connection.
But that increases the time of each machine install by at least 30-40 minutes.
And it entails pirating software...that's not the example we wish to set with our young people.
From the Comments...
"I wanted to switch from Comcast to AT&T because Comcast has a bit too many routing problems. This story certainly quenched the idea. I guess AT&T will not see my business anytime soon."
So whether this week's efforts find us someone in management/tech to help us solve this or they tell us to PUAR...that remains to be seen.
At this point, I would be happy with either one.
We will happily publish the names and positions of those who do either.