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Thread: flatmate has messed up my internet connection

  1. #1

    Default flatmate has messed up my internet connection

    I'm in a shared apartment with a crappy router (French Orange Livebox) and I just discovered that because one of my flatmates can't pick up the wireless signal in his faraway corner of the flat (and since we can't move the router as it's hooked up to the TV and phone nearby), he's gone and surreptitiously installed some device plugged into one of the four wired ports, which channels the signal via the power lines and allows him to plug in an ethernet cable to the mains socket in his room. I didn't even know such a thing existed, but anyway...

    First I knew about this was last week when I can no longer send email from Thunderbird on a POP account (Orange enforce some policy of having to send emails from other providers via their own server smtp.orange.fr so whenever I'm at home I have to use that as the default outgoing server). I can receive okay but on sending I get a timeout error, and I've also found I can't even access the login page of the router. In NetworkManager my connection still shows as the Livebox though my IP address has been displaced and gets constantly reassigned different numbers in the range x.x.x.10 to x.x.x.50, whereas previously it was always on x.x.x.10. I have another machine with a wired connection but I don't use POP email on there.

    The only way to resolve the issue is by going and pulling the lead out of this hidden box, and then everything is back to normal. Web browsing doesn't seem obviously affected but I don't know the potential impact on any other services, and don't understand why email in particular gets blocked. Is anybody familiar with this sort of device and what can I do configuration-wise to stop it messing up my connection?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: flatmate has messed up my internet connection

    Hi
    You might need to run wireshark to see what traffic is about on your interface.

    Is the unit connected to the same power socket as the router (maybe some interference)?
    Cheers Malcolm °¿° SUSE Knowledge Partner (Linux Counter #276890)
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: flatmate has messed up my internet connection

    On 2012-11-16 01:26, malcolmlewis wrote:
    >
    > Hi
    > You might need to run wireshark to see what traffic is about on your
    > interface.
    >
    > Is the unit connected to the same power socket as the router (maybe
    > some interference)?


    Maybe that device is giving IPs in the same range. A read of its
    documentation might give hints.

    --
    Cheers / Saludos,

    Carlos E. R.
    (from 11.4 x86_64 "Celadon" (Minas Tirith))

  4. #4

    Default Re: flatmate has messed up my internet connection

    gumb wrote:
    > I'm in a shared apartment with a crappy router (French Orange Livebox)
    > and I just discovered that because one of my flatmates can't pick up the
    > wireless signal in his faraway corner of the flat (and since we can't
    > move the router as it's hooked up to the TV and phone nearby), he's gone
    > and surreptitiously installed some device plugged into one of the four
    > wired ports, which channels the signal via the power lines and allows
    > him to plug in an ethernet cable to the mains socket in his room. I
    > didn't even know such a thing existed, but anyway...
    >
    > First I knew about this was last week when I can no longer send email
    > from Thunderbird on a POP account (Orange enforce some policy of having
    > to send emails from other providers via their own server
    > -smtp.orange.fr- so whenever I'm at home I have to use that as the
    > default outgoing server). I can receive okay but on sending I get a
    > timeout error, and I've also found I can't even access the login page of
    > the router. In NetworkManager my connection still shows as the Livebox
    > though my IP address has been displaced and gets constantly reassigned
    > different numbers in the range x.x.x.10 to x.x.x.50, whereas previously
    > it was always on x.x.x.10. I have another machine with a wired
    > connection but I don't use POP email on there.
    >
    > The only way to resolve the issue is by going and pulling the lead out
    > of this hidden box, and then everything is back to normal. Web browsing
    > doesn't seem obviously affected but I don't know the potential impact on
    > any other services, and don't understand why email in particular gets
    > blocked. Is anybody familiar with this sort of device and what can I do
    > configuration-wise to stop it messing up my connection?


    (1) Normally, boxes that pass Ethernet over the mains are pretty dumb.
    So they shouldn't by themselves cause such trouble. It would help if you
    told us the actual model he is using. Also, what version Livebox.

    (2) Which wire do you pull out to get your service back? The data wire
    or the power wire? Some form of interference is a possibility but is
    unlikely if the device is certified. Again, what model is it?

    (3) I think most likely is that your flatmate reconfigured the Livebox
    in some way when adding the ethernet device. Have you checked all the
    settings on the Livebox?

  5. #5

    Default Re: flatmate has messed up my internet connection

    Is the unit connected to the same power socket as the router (maybe some interference)?
    It's not on the same socket. Not far away on the same circuit, obviously, but then it has to be.

    Maybe that device is giving IPs in the same range. A read of its documentation might give hints.
    The router assigns addresses automatically from 192.168.1.10 to 192.168.1.50. This equipment takes at least one of those, but whereas before everything seemed to remain constant, it seems the addresses are being shuffled around a bit now.

    Which wire do you pull out to get your service back? The data wire or the power wire? Some form of interference is a possibility but is unlikely if the device is certified. Again, what model is it?
    I pull out the data wire on the back of the router. The device is branded Boulanger (large French electronics retailer). It's an 'Adapteur CPL 200Mbps', product code 871169. The router is a Sagem Livebox 2 FR, with software version FAST3XXX_6814BC (most recent I believe since any checks I've ever done for updates never find anything newer).

    I think most likely is that your flatmate reconfigured the Livebox in some way when adding the ethernet device. Have you checked all the settings on the Livebox?
    He couldn't have configured anything as he doesn't have the code for the router settings (it's no longer 'admin' and the device hasn't been reset to defaults), so I assume it just auto-configured when he plugged it in. Unfortunately I can't seek help from Orange because the account is in the name of the evasive landlady and previous attempts by me to contact their customer service result in them either ignoring me or claiming they can't help because I don't belong to the household of the account holder. Besides which they'd probably claim this new equipment isn't their responsibility.

  6. #6

    Default Re: flatmate has messed up my internet connection

    Quote Originally Posted by gumb View Post
    ...he's gone and surreptitiously installed some device plugged into one of the four wired ports, which channels the signal via the power lines and allows him to plug in an ethernet cable to the mains socket in his room. I didn't even know such a thing existed, but anyway...
    Powerline networking.

    @djh-novell
    (1) Normally, boxes that pass Ethernet over the mains are pretty dumb.
    So they shouldn't by themselves cause such trouble. It would help if you
    told us the actual model he is using.

    Quote Originally Posted by gumb View Post
    The device is branded Boulanger (large French electronics retailer). It's an 'Adapteur CPL 200Mbps',
    Technically, these things aren't so much dumb as they try to emulate dumbness. It sounds as if you have something like the 'Homeplug AV' 200 MBPS standard (there are a variety of standards available and you can only really rely on them being compatible with others of the same standard or denominated backward compatible devices called out on the device packaging or website).

    Now, in my not very happy experience with the devices, they benchmark at about half the rate claimed, so the 200 Megabits per second is probably closer to a real world 100 Mbits, lower if your apartment has bad wiring or there is a lot of electrical noise present on the mains wiring locally.

    If your (wired) ethernet is Gigabit, then your router will spend a lot of its time waiting for the powerline adaptor. If you can turn the rate down to 100M or even 10M this may become less of a problem, so that might be worth trying, if you can.


    Quote Originally Posted by gumb View Post
    ...one of my flatmates can't pick up the wireless signal in his faraway corner of the flat (and since we can't move the router as it's hooked up to the TV and phone nearby)...
    If the router has removable/replaceable antennas (...I know you said it was cruddy, but there's still a chance...), you might not have to move the router, but re-locate one or more of the antennas...or use a directional antenna with gain.

    Quote Originally Posted by gumb View Post
    In NetworkManager my connection still shows as the Livebox though my IP address has been displaced and gets constantly reassigned different numbers in the range x.x.x.10 to x.x.x.50, whereas previously it was always on x.x.x.10. I have another machine with a wired connection but I don't use POP email on there.
    The fact that your address keeps on changing sounds as if there is a lot of noise around, connections are continually being dropped and re-made with new addresses being handed out.. Quite why a 'noisy' powerline adaptor causes your address to change, I don't know, but it sounds as if the pool of dhcp addresses is exhausted and re-used and just because you are 'innocent' doesn't mean that your address doesn't get re-used too.

    Quote Originally Posted by gumb View Post
    Web browsing doesn't seem obviously affected but I don't know the potential impact on any other services, and don't understand why email in particular gets blocked. Is anybody familiar with this sort of device and what can I do configuration-wise to stop it messing up my connection?
    Really, there isn't much that you can configure on the device itself; they can do encryption (just), but not much else. (The ones I had would only set up the encryption with the Windows set-up disk, so in that case, there may be nothing you can configure on the device itself if you are unprepared to use windows and have the disk...and, anyway, encryption may just makes matters worse as it gives the adaptor more work to do.) If there is any chance to set the devices down to a lower speed (on the powerline side, rather than the ethernet side) that might help, but the ones that I had showed no sign of that capability from Linux (maybe on the driver disk...the devices will auto-negotiate down to some lower speed, if they sense a lower speed compatible device that they need to talk to, so the capability is there, but whether you can activate it, without a lower speed device is unclear).

    So, if you can't do something at the router itself, you may be struggling to make a positive impact.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: flatmate has messed up my internet connection

    On 2012-11-16 22:46, Obscurant wrote:
    > gumb;2504098 Wrote:
    >> > ...one of my flatmates can't pick up the wireless signal in his faraway
    >> > corner of the flat (and since we can't move the router as it's hooked up
    >> > to the TV and phone nearby)...

    > If the router has removable/replaceable antennas (...I know you said it
    > was cruddy, but there's still a chance...), you might not have to move
    > the router, but re-locate one or more of the antennas...or use a
    > directional antenna with gain.


    A directional antenna at the computer side makes wonders. Even one made
    with a can of pringles. Lots of docs in the web.

    --
    Cheers / Saludos,

    Carlos E. R.
    (from 11.4 x86_64 "Celadon" (Minas Tirith))

  8. #8

    Default Re: flatmate has messed up my internet connection

    Thanks for all the info.
    The router config page shows the wifi as being 130Mbit/s. NetworkManager reports my laptop varying typically anything between 12MBit/s and 54MBit/s. Thankfully this powerline gadget doesn't seem to steal all the bandwidth, but rather blocks the access to certain services like the router administration and sending email. Bizarre. Wired connections usually report as being 100Mb/s. The router seems to me to use quite out-of-date technology (my guess is Windows-based since the TV loses all its settings and requires reinitializing every 3 to 4 weeks, and though this one was installed two and a half years ago, the same is true with all my friends who also have such an Orange Livebox, even those who had one installed recently), and it doesn't even seem capable of IPv6 because when I'm here I have to set Mozilla Firefox / Thunderbird config to disable IPv6 else I get no traffic, yet I don't need this setting when the laptop is elsewhere. I'm not aware of any removable antenna. The unit is completely sealed.

    Is there a way to force a static IP address on my side or does that always depend on the router's settings?

    I don't know if there's any manual or guide for this powerline device. My flatmate is away and he's not very co-operative. He's also a friend of the evasive landlady. My only trump card is that I've changed the login for the router so I could blacklist his equipment or play other dirty tricks if he tries to be too unreasonable!

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    Default Re: flatmate has messed up my internet connection

    On 2012-11-17 12:26, gumb wrote:
    > Is there a way to force a static IP address on my side or does that
    > always depend on the router's settings?


    Force? There is no force in this. You just choose a static IP, that's
    all. The trick is to use an IP outside of the range that the router is
    giving out, like for example, .83

    --
    Cheers / Saludos,

    Carlos E. R.
    (from 11.4 x86_64 "Celadon" (Minas Tirith))

  10. #10

    Default Re: flatmate has messed up my internet connection

    Quote Originally Posted by gumb View Post
    The router config page shows the wifi as being 130Mbit/s. NetworkManager reports my laptop varying typically anything between 12MBit/s and 54MBit/s.
    Info in the router config page should probably be read as '...this is the maximum data rate that could be achieved under absolutely ideal conditions...' or maybe 'this a theoretical rate, that you could approach but wouldn't even achieve under ideal conditions'.

    54 Mbits is a common enough speed and is probably the practical maximum that you see for 'Wireless G', unless you could do tricks like bonding together multiple channels (and, from your description of the router, that would certainly not be guaranteed). If all this router is doing is sharing the internet connection, 54 Mbits is unlikely to be any sort of limitation because you probably don't have much upstream bandwidth in excess of that (or am I being unduly negative about the data rates that you are likely to get from French Orange?). On the other hand, if you are sharing access to a fileserver there might be a more serious issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by gumb View Post
    Thankfully this powerline gadget doesn't seem to steal all the bandwidth, but rather blocks the access to certain services like the router administration and sending email. Bizarre.
    I'm playing around with the idea that the powerline thingy doesn't actually block anything, but the fact that you are constantly losing and getting re-assigned IP addresses means that you are no longer recognised as the same user...you could see how that would probably be a problem for router admin, but what it has to do with sending e-mail... Incidentally, does your e-mail use http or https?

    It would be a good idea to try a static ip just outside the range assigned by the router's DHCP range, it just might work if the ip address 'dancing about' is causing the problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by gumb View Post
    ..and it doesn't even seem capable of IPv6 ...
    No ipv6 isn't a surprise. You'd hope for something different, but at the cheaper end of the market, it isn't really surprising. Maybe you could do something about that if you could install Tomato or DD-WRT or something on the router, but that's really getting ahead of ourselves.

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