Linux and Browsers

I switched to Linux about 8 months ago…just for the hell of it – and to give Micro$oft the finger. Even stopped dual-booting about three months ago after travelling enough to know that I could connect to the internet and give presentations using the system.
[for the geeks – Dell Inspiron 600m, Ubuntu Edgy – someday I’ll post what I’ve eventually gotten to work on my system…just making the thing produce sound was a weird journey]
In any case, I’d gotten very confident…
I arrived here (Norfolk, VA) to stay in the Founders’ Inn – a reasonably nice, if small and out-of-the-way, all-inclusive-type conference center.
[another note – the Inn is owned by CBN – yep, that’s right, the Christian Broadcasting Network – Pat Robertson’s megaphone to the world…the whole trip is made even more surreal by the fact that NATO (yes, THAT NATO) is having a meeting here also…at the CBN’s hotel…oy…]
So, as if that all weren’t enough, I plugged in my laptop – saw the reassurring lights on Network Manager that said I was connected to the Wired Network – fired up Firefox and….bupkis…could not browse, despite being connected…the error message was something characteristically vague about it being a server issue. After futzing for quite a while, I relented and called the front desk to make sure they didn’t have to flip a switch or something…They said, “We’ll send the IT guy up.”

Five minutes later, Jason (not his real name…at least I don’t remember if it was), the high-school aged A-V geek showed up brandishing a screwdriver. I wasn’t sure what he was planning to do with that, but after ensuring that he wasn’t going to apply it to my laptop, I let him sit down. I had told the front desk that I used Linux – but Jason hadn’t gotten the message…or he hadn’t understood it, ‘cuz he starts madly touch-padding around my laptop in a desperate attempt to locate some familiar icons or menus. After watching with rather malicious amusement, I admit, I finally let him in on the situation. He stared blankly into the laptop screen for a second…cleared his throat and hrm-ed nervously and proceeded to check the cables. After ensuring that I was, in fact, plugged in, he told me he had no idea what to do, and would have to call the IT guy. Resisting the urge to bang his head into the wall screaming “You’re supposed to BE the IT guy!” I let him go with a smile.
Five minutes after that…Ned (also, not his real name) showed up. Ned took an immediate interest in the problem. He actually had worked with Linux a while ago in college, so at least had an appreciation for the whole idea. He worked steadily, with my mostly useless assistance, until we realized that Firefox wasn’t working with the ip3 server they use (with its Active X authentication scheme) to redirect me through the gateway. Used an earlier version of Mozilla on my computer also to no avail. He went back to his office and Googled some, and realized that “this doesn’t seem to be a very common problem, so I can’t find anything about how to fix it” (such is the IT knowledge management situation, I guess). He mentioned that maybe I could try Opera as he thought he remembered that it had a slightly different architecture.
The next morning, I borrowed a conference Win-puter, downloaded the .deb package from the web site, installed it and BOOM (as Emeril would say) – I was surfin’.
Since then (24 hours), I’ve been using Opera…I think I have a new browser. Very functional, nice design. I’ll just have to keep both Firefox and Opera on my laptop…just in case…
It’s been a weird conference…

UPDATE: Just tried to get on our library’s site (which uses a proxy server). Doesn’t work on Opera, but I figured out that once I’m on the net with Opera, I can run Firefox, which DOES work with the proxy. I just don’t understand all this…

One thought on “Linux and Browsers

  1. John, I am sorry you had troubles using the IP3 NetAccess device, at least Opera worked out for you in the end. I just wanted to clear up some misinformation the IT staff seems to have given you. The NetAccess does not require any sort of Active-X support or other M$ proprietary functionality. It *actually* is an embedded Linux appliance and is 100% built in a Debain development environment. I am the lead engineer, and I have been a Debian user for going on 6+ years now. My IBM T43 laptop is a Debian Etch system that works great with our device. At any rate we don’t have any known issues with Firefox so if you run into the issue again, let me know and we will see if we can’t help you really figure out what is going on… Cheers.


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