Cox Cable Webstar Modem with Redhat Linux or Alternatives?
September 30, 2006 3:36 PM   Subscribe

My father-in-law (retired blue-collar aluminum worker, widowed, fixed-income, screwed out of health benefits when his former corporate employer filed bankruptcy) has an old Win 98 computer. Last year I installed major upgrades and switched him to Redhat Linux. All was well until Cox Cable swapped his old cable modem for a Webstar that is not Linux compatible. Can I get him back on Cox Cable with Redhat Linux without having to buy a new computer? Would a new cable modem work and if so, what brand?
posted by Didaskalos to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
Can't you just plug the new modem into a router and run the router to his computer?
posted by Loto at 4:01 PM on September 30, 2006

Or, call COX and explain that while you'd love to a remain a customer, that won't be possible unless they provide a compatible modem.
posted by orthogonality at 4:03 PM on September 30, 2006

The modem doesn't have an ethernet port? I have never seen one that doesn't.

Call COX and ask if a generic Linksys cable modem (get the specific model # you want to buy) will work with their network.
posted by SirStan at 4:16 PM on September 30, 2006

jayder: "Sounds like he needed Linux like he needed a hole in his head."

Sounds like companies need to remember that not everyone runs Windows like their customers need holes in their head. (Mac user here.)

And thanks for derailing the thread.

I'll third the vote about getting a router ... most cable modems have to be able to plug into routers. If it doesn't, call up Cox and yell at them.
posted by SpecialK at 4:37 PM on September 30, 2006

It's an external modem, right? Not an expansion card? I'm sure that the new cable modem can be made to work. Perhaps you are doing something wrong. If you tell RedHat to enable the ethernet jack and use DHCP, and plug that sucker into the cable modem, does it not work? Believe it or not, these things are both stupid and standard nowadays. There's absolutely no reason that RedHat wouldn't work with that modem.
posted by jellicle at 4:38 PM on September 30, 2006

NIC card and a router are the ticket.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:47 PM on September 30, 2006

Which Webstar model, exactly? This Cox support page is for the DPX-2100; if that's what he's got, fixing things should be as simple as using an Ethernet patch cable to connect it to his computer instead of a USB cable. AFAIK there is simply no way an Ethernet-connected modem can be incompatible with Linux.
posted by flabdablet at 4:48 PM on September 30, 2006

Best answer: Folks, Didaskalos asked for help, not a snarkfest. Webstar cable modems that are USB devices may well have Windows only "drivers" because they are using some of the computer's CPU cycles to emulate circuitry the cable modem would otherwise have to supply in an Ethernet based version. It's also a handy way to segregate pricing tiers for some cable ISP's who offer single computer "home" services, multiple computer "home network" services at a higher price, and business services, at still higher prices. Even if he were still running Windows 98, he might not find a compatible USB device driver, as Win 98SE had spotty USB support. Win2K and WinXP may not be appropriate systems for the hardware available, either, and could force additional expenses for antivirus and malware protections, on a person with limited resources. Linux may be a perfect adequate solution for his father-in-law.

As to what he can do, without bumping his father-in-law up to a higher cost "home network" account, is to check Cox's terms of service, and maybe have a discussion with them. They're not obligated to provide Ethernet capable modems, or to support Linux machines on their systems, but they often will, if asked nicely. You may have to purchase a cable modem that will work on their system yourself, but they can help you by suggesting appropriate models, and you can frequently buy such critters at discount prices of perhaps $30 to $50 dollars, from various vendors, or on eBay.
posted by paulsc at 4:48 PM on September 30, 2006

I don't know about Cox, but Comcast allows you to buy your own cable modem and save $3/month on their leasing fees. Could you just buy a cable modem that works with linux instead of leasing one?

Alternatively, you could request a driver be created at the linux USB project as a last resort...
posted by twiggy at 5:03 PM on September 30, 2006

Which version of Red Hat did you give him, by the way? I ask because I recently switched my own laptop from RH9 (the last fully free one, now defunct) to Ubuntu 6.06, and I'm much happier with Ubuntu (see this helpful comparison page).
posted by flabdablet at 5:04 PM on September 30, 2006

Response by poster: I installed Linux because Windows 98 was not working well. Every time I visited he had tons of spyware. As hayter, whoops, jayder and his Windoze zombie krewe may have heard, MS no longer supports 98 and his machine was not XP ready. He is going to try buying a cable modem; I was hoping MeFi might generate a suggestion. I installed an Ethernet card when I upgraded his computer to make it Redhat ready.

Linux hating Windoze lusers -- why waste time on this thread? Go run a virus scan or update you spyware detector.
posted by Didaskalos at 6:21 PM on September 30, 2006

Response by poster: I gave him a linksys router which should still be plugged in unless the Cox technician removed it. I'll probably have to drive 5 hours next weekend to go to his house and fix the system myself. The Cox tech told him the SciAtlanta Webstar was not Linux compat. I'll ask him if the tech unplugged the router or tried to use the USB instead of the Ethernet.
posted by Didaskalos at 6:31 PM on September 30, 2006

Be sure to check with Cox regarding acceptable cable modem types, before buying one. There are several versions of DOCSIS and Cox systems, while generally DOCSIS 2 compliant, may still be in the process of upgrade. And, if you supply your own cable modem, you still have to go through the registration and power cycle dance with the Cox head end, in order to get a valid IP address on their network via DHCP to the modem, along with the current gateway and DNS addresses.
posted by paulsc at 7:10 PM on September 30, 2006

Mod note: stop it, please answer the question or take it to metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:17 PM on September 30, 2006

Scientific Atlanta DPC2100 Cable Modem Features

Speed: Up to 43 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream
Convenience: Always on – three simple connections and your high-speed link is ready for data
Size: Small, compact design – only 5.25 in.(H) x 4 in.(D) x 1.5 in.(W)
Compatibility/Portability: The DPC2100 is DOCSIS 2.0 certified
Orientation: Mounts either vertically or horizontally – flexible design to fit your space requirements
Power: External universal power supply and power cord included
Display: Five, easy-to-understand LEDs (Power, PC, Cable, Send, Receive) – diagnostics made simple
Connection: USB and Ethernet ports – getting a new PC doesn’t mean having to acquire a new cable modem (USB and Ethernet cables included)
Multiple Users: One DPC2100 can support up to 64 devices (additional equipment required)

In case you haven't fixed the problem, here's what Cox is selling.
posted by bpilati at 1:55 PM on April 24, 2007

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