Specialised UK ISPs for Linux users

Q I am struggling to find a reasonably priced broadband provider that deals with Linux. I looked for a high-speed dial-up for Linux, which was not successful. So I examined my download statistics under various distros. Fedora comes bottom, with a peak of 1.8kBs and an average of about 0.7. Fedora 4 and SUSE achieve about 3kBs max, with an average download speed of about 1.5kBs. Knoppix 4 is a little better. Xandros 3 gets about 4kB averaging about 2kB. The best is Mandriva 10.1 (using Mozilla and Epiphany), which peaks at about 13kBs and averages about 6kBs. These have been tried with a variety of connections and at a variety of times, but the results were pretty consistent - they all do badly about 7:00 pm and 10 am, and all seem to do best about Sunday morning. I am using a 56k external serial modem. Any ideas on getting my average speed up to double figures? PS Any ideas on networking two Linux boxes using different distros?

A There are two UK ISPs that specialise in Linux users: UKLinux.net and UK Free Software Network (www.ukfsn.org). Both of these provide ADSL as well as dialup. Your speed problems do seem a little strange, but they're difficult to get to grips with as you have provided so little information - not even the make of your modem. It would be interesting to compare the modem configurations set by each of the distros. Using a browser to measure download speeds is not the most reliable test, as there are too many variables affecting it, including your ISP's proxy server. A better test would be to try downloading a file with wget. Try this command with each of the distros:

wget ftp://ftp.mirrorservice.org/sites/ftp.kde.org/pub/kde/stable/3.5.2/src/kdeaddons-3.5.2.tar.bz2

Any file on a good UK-based FTP server should give a reasonable test. You are not going to see double figures with a 56k modem unless you are downloading compressible data, such as usenet postings or web pages (but not the images). The best you can hope for with compressed data, such as the above file or images, is around 7kBs. Compressed files like this give the truest indication of your connection quality. The times you mention are interesting; 7 pm is a peak time for internet usage in the UK (the web or Emmerdale: you decide) while Sunday morning sees quite low usage. It would also be worth asking BT to test your line.

Even if it reports nothing wrong, the act of testing it makes a difference in many cases. When choosing an ISP based on Linux support, you would expect to get such support. I would suggest that you open a dialup account with UKFSN (it's pay as you go) and ask both ISPs for help with your connection speeds. The one that is most helpful should be the one to get your broadband business. As for your question about networking two computers with different distros, it's just the same as two computers running the same Linux variant. While the configuration tools may vary, most distros are very similar at heart. NFS, HTTP, Samba or whatever you want to network with, work the same on all distros.

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