[svlug] Starband PCI cards & Linux box

Dagmar d'Surreal dagmar at dsurreal.org
Wed Mar 7 10:01:01 PST 2001

On Wed, 7 Mar 2001, Al Udal wrote:

>  6 íÁÒÔ 2001 22:14, ÷Ù ÎÁÐÉÓÁÌÉ:
> > On Tue, 6 Mar 2001, Al Udal wrote:
> > > Hi, I'm a pretty much of a newbie in this Linux world,
> > > but I'm also a pilot tester of Starband 2-way satellite broadband
> > > Internet access system. It is based on Win98SE box which I tweaked
> > > to its limits and beyond (well, sometimes...). Feel like I have hit the
> > > ceiling with pretty crappy Windoze TCP/IP stack.
> > >
> > > Now I want to experiment with Starband system on Linux, but there's
> > > no drivers for its Tx/Rx PCI cards, and Starband tech support for beta
> > > testers promises that those will never be written.
> >
> > Hmm... never heard of this medium before, 
> Good (big, not mall's outlets) Radio Shacks should have the whole systems
> (choose one model of Compaq of three, dish assembly, USB modem (<-- this one
> might be wrappable in Linux box much easier)

If they have a USB modem version, I'll have to look into the prices on
them.  It's possible that they may have added enough hardware on the USB
modem to make it filter out excess traffic before sending it to the host
> > but any time I see something
> > that "promises" linux support will never appear, it's usually because they
> > have something to hide.   Offhand I'd say they don't want Linux people to
> > know that their medium is no better than a REALLY COLLOSAL shared media
> > segment, and unlike common hybrid fiber-coaxial cablemodem system, you can
> > sniff the traffic of every customer within many miles of your home with
> > them.  (In this case, I'm guessing they don't want word to get out that
> > this kind of thing is possible before they can go IPO and get bought out)
> Yes, that's perfectly true, their tech support even threatened to turn my 
> segment off if I continue to ask for Linux drivers, even binaries.

It's probably more likely that they merely found you annoying.  Tech
support people are typically too stupid to see a buisness-class disaster

> But it also true that their architecture is more of a LAN of a sort,
> and customers are basically in the same grid with company employees.
> Guys are pretty much frightened after several attacks on them (mere
> probes, I think, four or five my colleague testers have lost their
> installs, that's all). Yes, they are capable to monitor all the
> customer's traffic, they are blocking (or merely not supporting)
> services like VPN, they were blocking Napster in its heydays, they cap
> a one's bandwidth slice, and they deny all of it. And I'm under
> non-disclosure agreement, to divulge more of their strategic
> parameters.

Their strategic parameters sound like crap to me, and I don't think you
yet understand what I'm getting at.  Broadcast media (and quite commonly
the broadband implementations of same) have one really MASSIVE problem...  
Without encryption, everyone with the same kind of recieving equipment who
happens to live anywhere near you can very possibly see every packet that
is meant for you.  Depending on the topolgy (if the dish emits as well as
recieves) a lesser (but still significant) number of people likely have
the ability to eavesdrop on your *outgoing* traffic as well.  Most people
tend to experience at least a mild increase in heart rate and respiration
when presented with the notion that 1,000's of people within their
hometown can readily eavesdrop on all their internet traffic, and this is
typically very bad for anyone with options that depend on people thinking
they're getting a private connection. 

But here's a shocker...  EM broadcast frequencies != private
> > Have you taken a close look at the card to see what types of chips are on
> > it?
> chips are proprietary, I think. Basically it's an Israeli company named Gilat 
> who made up sorta joint venture with MSN Broadband, to call themselves as 
> Starband for Nortnern America. They are Gilat elsewhere (Mediterranea, SE 
> Asia)

Hmm... That drops the odds of finding a way to interface with the card
just a little bit, unless you stop guessing and actually look at the card.

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