Blog Post

Please say Fedora

Last evening I went over to a family friend’s house to help her with an ongoing problem with her Internet connection. She has AT&T DSL, and every night around 5pm or so, the connection pretty much drops. Getting to a web page is hit or miss, like one in every 10 attempts it will load a page. The pings were good, but getting out was a nightmare. She has a huge laptop running Windows 7 with insane specifications. Great machine. So, I took over my netbook running Kubuntu Netbook Remix (Lucid) to see if the problem was her laptop. Right away I was able to decide it wasn’t her laptop. Further debugging made me realize it was the DSL connection. I connected directly to the DSL modem, no router, firewall, anything in between me and the Internet. The problem still existed. At that time I determined it was AT&T’s fault so we called them up. Initially the phone call was a nightmare.

Typically I am really good at understanding an Indian dialect because the area of Chicago I grew up in was largely an Indian population. The person on the phone was a bit harder to understand and I believe the reason was because they had a mix of the Indian dialect with a distinct southern US drawl. Anyways, after talking to the AT&T tech support person for a few minutes, I started telling him what was going on and what I had done thus far. He asked what version of Windows I was using to test and I told him I wasn’t using Windows and instead was using Linux. I expected the “We don’t support Linux” comment, but was floored when he said, “Please say you are using Fedora.”  I chimed in with a “Sorry, using Kubuntu.” He chuckled then said, “Some people will never learn.” We shot little jabs back and forth at each other having a bit of fun while he was doing a modem test. In the end they figured out it was their issue and some AT&T techie will be out there today to fix the issue.

So, if you were that AT&T dude I talked to last night who loves Fedora and despises us Ubuntu fanboys, drop by and say HI! It was a pleasure getting to talk to you for support on the issue, and it is great seeing that there are some tech support people who aren’t afraid to explore other options.

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  • I too expected the “We Don’t Support Linux” while reading the post.

    So there is 1 Indian Tech support guy who actually knows technology. Most of the time they can’t distinguish between kbps and kb/s. Call any Indian mobile operator and 9 out of 10 times you’ll come to know that surfing is free but download costs money. Trust me, they say it.

  • James

    Last time I heard about a problem like this it turned out to be electromagnetic interference with the street lights outside.

  • That’s pretty awesome. If only all customer support folk were like that…

  • jorge

    I had an hp guy come to my house to fix my laptop and I was dreading that he was going to give me some excuse to not replace my motherboard.

    Ends up he had heard of ubuntu and asked me some questions about which apps to use for what. He fixed the mobo and I gave him a more updated CD from whatever version he was running.

    I love things like that!

  • Richard, that’s a great story, I too expected the Windows-line. I’ve had quite a few similar experiences, not just with Linux but FLOSS in general. A few weeks back I had a lady in her 70s come into our shop. We restored her Windows XP system from her restore discs, but it only had MS Works. I started to talk to her about OpenOffice when she interrupted me and told me she’d been using it for the past 2 years. I guess the moral of the story is never to assume, but I like it when someone proves me wrong.

  • I got a pretty similar line while I was sorting out the DSL over here on the good side of the Atlantic. The guy asked what version of Windows I was running, I replied, with not a little trepidation, “It’s an Ubuntu box”, and he said “Ah cool. Never tried it myself, too much of a gamer to switch”. It’s really nice when you get a techie on the other end of the line you can have a proper chat to and not just someone rigidly sticking to the script.

  • I am over at my friends house now, and it seems the AT&T guy that came out has replaced a lot of lines. It will be interesting to see if the issue goes away tonight though.

  • dragonbite

    I love this story!

    So far I’ve been lucky, in that I haven’t had to call them yet, but I may have to soon. I would hope I get this guy!

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  • Brian

    Years ago I worked at a helpdesk for a local ISP and I got a call from a woman who had been having trouble with her internet connection. She had called us several times as well as her router manufacturer and her computer manufacturer. She wasn’t irate but she was definitely upset since everybody just kept telling her they couldn’t help her because she was running Gentoo. It wasn’t actually her idea to run Linux. Her son had installed it for her and had moved to a different state and was too busy to help her at the time.

    The ISP didn’t support Linux. We were actually told we are not allowed to support it but since my supervisors always loved me and I actually was a Gentoo user at the time I figured why not. The call ended up taking less than 10 minutes and it actually was a problem with the OS(network wasn’t starting at boot.)

    She was so happy she got me for the call and I can almost guarantee if she had gotten any other tech in the place at that time they wouldn’t have helped her. She actually told me her sons Gentoo forum user name but I never got around to messaging him.

  • Karthik

    Coming from India I know how you feel about these comments. RedHat has in the past many successful installations in India and hence all those people use Fedora. I am now in Germany and use kubuntu all the time and when I went home this holidays people asked me why I am running some substandard distro when a quality stuff like Fedora is available. It will take them sometime to learn and understand Ubuntu. (May be if you had told them you run debian they would have treated you better and with more respect)

  • Stacey

    That is the best linux/tech support story I’ve heard. I would have sh&t myself with that response. What a great thing to hear when we’re so used to the word “Linux” ending the conversation. Love it!

  • Dan

    There is no difference between kb/s and kbps. You can read either the slash or the p as “per.” Perhaps you meant to put one of the b’s in uppercase, which would change it from bits to bytes.

  • redhatman

    The tech guy does have a point though, why you using Ubuntu? 😉
    Seriously though, it’s near impossible to get these people to admit that the fault does actually stem from their end.

  • I’m a Linux consultant living and working in South France. Back in 2001, I’ve been running Slackware 7.1, and I had a bit of a hard time connecting to the Internet using rp-pppoe. So I called the provider (Wanadoo back then). The tech support guy told me to “go into the system configuration panel”. I answered that I don’t have such a thing because I’m running Linux. After a very long pause (and some heavy breating on the other end of the line), I got the answer: “You… have to… reinstall Windows.”

  • Tygrys

    Kudos to the tech guy at AT&T. Let me tell you my story with tech support & Linux. A while back I called HP support because my printer wouldn’t print black (all other colors worked). I knew it would be a challenge because I’m using Ubuntu. So, the tech asks me the normal questions: serial number, name, phone number in case we get disconnected, and how he can help. I told him that I can’t print in black and told him that I’ve been having a lot of paper jams (using HP paper). Then he would ask me what OS I was running, I told him Ubuntu/Linux. He said, OK let me get someone on the line that knows Linux. I figured cool. After a few minutes on hold, I get a lady this time. She asks me the same questions: serial number, name, phone number, and how she can help me. I figured it was odd to provide the same info again, but I figure I’ll play along. Told her I can’t print black. The asked what OS, response Ubuntu/Linux. She then says, OK let me get someone else to help you. Wait a minute, wasn’t SHE the one I got transferred to because of Linux? But me being a nice guy, I said OK I’ll hold. Next tech guy asks me the same questions: serial number, name, phone, how he can help. I say, can’t print, running Ubuntu/Linux. He goes, let me transfer you to some who knows Linux. At this point I got a little frustrated and told him and I was transferred to HIM because of the Linux issue. He said that he can’t help me and that he will have to transfer me. And here comes the worst part: After being on hold for another Linux “expert”, I get a recording “The tech support is closed now, please call us during normal business hours, Monday to Friday 8am -8 pm” (or something to that effect) and my phone call was dropped. At that point I realized that I was never being transferred to any Linux experts, but I was dumped back to the general waiting list because all the tech guys/galls I talked to were clueless, lazy, and had no idea what to do, so they just dropped me to the waiting list for the next tech guy to deal with me. Thanks for nothing, HP.

    I’ve got a Windows 7 box, but I haven’t called back. Hopefully one of these days I will. For now I just use my older printer.

  • Alan

    Excellent! Glad to see Linux is catching on more and more. I ran into the same thing with a Qwest tech support person when I had issues with my VDSL, he was using Ubuntu.

  • thomas

    I remember back when ISPs and cable companies wouldn’t even let you use their service if you weren’t running Windows. “I’m sorry, sir, you will have to install Windows if you want to use our internet service.”

    Recently we upgraded our cable options to HD digital tv + voip phone, and when the tech checked the cable modem to the computer, he didn’t even blink that the computer was running Linux, like it was the most normal thing in the world.

  • JJS

    I have found that in over 50% of the support calls I have made in the past 3 years, the tech has at least heard of Linux and doesn’t have a panic attack when I tell them it is the OS being used for troubleshooting. The more amazing part of this story is that someone from a Telco actually admitted it was their problem. The only time I ever had that happen was when my phone line completely died and it was obviously the line from the pole to the house. Usually, they claim there is no problem, but without my doing anything, the problem magically goes away within a day or so.

    Later . . . Jim

  • Mike

    When my mom got her cable internet hooked up the tech couldn’t get my mom’s winbox to recognize any connection at all to the nic. He brought in a laptop to see if the modem was working and it hooked right up so he told my mom the problem was with her computer and it was probably the motherboard since the nic was integrated. I had a Kubuntu disk that I had burned so my mom could see how cool it was so I popped it into her comp and restarted it. Kubuntu saw the lan connection and the modem assigned it an address and it was ready to go except Konquerer didn’t like the website you had to sign up on. When I restarted the comp to get back to windows suddenly everything worked, He got my mom all set up and away she went. The tech asked me what the disk was so I told him about live linux and how there were dozens of different flavors. He thought it was a neat trick how it just fixed whatever was wrong with my mom’s comp, I said it was just blind stupid luck and he wondered how many other times he might have solved a problem that quick with a linux disk. I don’t know if I’m comfortable with someone thinking it was magic or voodoo but it was a pleasant surprise and I made a friend giving him that disk so he could wave a magic wand from time to time.

  • Ben

    Having previously worked for AT&T Mobility, I can say I’ve met a few people there that use Linux. Most use Ubuntu or Fedora, I personally prefer Slackware.

    One time I had a customer call in because his aircard was no longer connecting, it started just closing connection as soon as he connected. Officially AT&T does not support Linux or Mac, in reality our manager let us if it’s something we know. As this guy said he was using a cmd based dialer, instead of gui based, I figured he knew a little about Linux. So we checked his settings, everything looked right in all the systems. When none of the normal settings worked, we tried as a last chance setting a new AT command string in the conf file. After saving that, picked right up and connected without trouble.

    There are people there that use Linux, and many that use Mac. Sadly though it’s a small chance of getting them.

  • Wheelnut

    I have had a lot of problems with my ISP. When I called them, I got asked about which version of Windows I was running from the Indian call centre. When I replied that I was running Linux, I was told that “…the internet was not compatible with Linux…”

  • mbhinder


    There is no difference between kbps and kb/s. Maybe you meant kB/s and Kbps. I think you should go back to school before picking on Indian tech support executives.

  • Well Kubuntu rocks.
    Cudos to the author for choosing the right distro.

  • CPrompt

    great story! I had to call my ISP once and he asked me what OS I was running. I told him Linux and he asked if I could boot into Windows please. I told him I didn’t have Windows and he said that he could not help me any further and hung up. Nice!

  • Cameron

    When I worked for an ISP if I had tried to trouble shoot a computer using Linux (Or even OSX, there was a separate helpdesk for mac support) I would have lost my shot at the monthly bonus and probably would have been called up by my team leader for a ‘discussion’. It’s one of the main reasons I couldn’t keep working there.

  • See, I have personally never had an issue, and you can probably ask Jorge Castro up there, because of my personality. I have yet to not get what I wanted through them and that is because I won’t take their shit. First thing I always do, before they can do anything else, is get their full name and their employee ID number. I stay polite the entire time. If they have a problem with Linux, I will ask them to tell me what to do as if I were using Windows. It is fairly easy to follow along nowadays with Windows instructions to get from point “A” to point “B”. If they want to give me problems, I stop right away, and request to speak with their manager. I have only had to do this 2 or 3 times in the past 10 or so years, mainly with Comcast and not AT&T. If I ask to speak to the manager, the first thing I do is get their full name and employee ID as well. If I can’t get through to them, I ask for their manager. Typically this person isn’t in so they will want to “take a message.” When they do this, I say no, that is OK, please either give me that person’s email address, full name, and employee ID, or transfer me to their voice mail. 99.9% of the time it works. In case it doesn’t, I go straight to their website and get every email address that I can. I will even Google the hell out of the people and get as much information about them as I can. Then I will CC as many of them as possible. I have had to only do this one time, and in one case, I emailed the CEO. I got a phone call the next day from the CEO of Comcast or whatever his position was. He was able to get a tech out to my house in an hour and I was given credit for 3 months of free service, in which I donated to someone who was having issues with paying their bill. So, yes I am an asshole, but not all of the time 🙂

    So, my pointers:
    * Get the person’s information, ie. full name and employee ID.
    * Speak to a manager if all else fails
    * Always be polite, never be rude, as your phone call is recorded, and they will review it and possibly use it against you in reaching your goal
    * E-mail as a last resort

    Oh, and if your initial call is successful, and the tech person went beyond the call of duty, always ask to speak with their manager at the end of the call and give them praise.

  • John

    It’s getting a lot better these days. Partly I think because more ISPs are supplying routers instead of modems, so if you can tell the tech person that you have eliminated the possibility of the computer being at fault by using a live CD, it simplifies the troubleshooting. The router, the line or their system must be at fault. Mentioning Linux usually gets me a line check immediately instead of half an hour tweaking and rebooting the system. At worst, I’ve got a list of router settings to check.

    I had the same thing a few times with Logitech mice. Call tech support, say I’m using Linux, and they issue a replacement straight away, because I’m not using their software, so it must be a physical fault. Much easier now they know of Linux, and possibly have an entry in the script for this.

  • JohnP

    Having worked in AT&T Design and Architecture, I can say that most of the company servers are UNIX based. There are many Windows servers and over 100K Windows desktops too, but the much of the real work is performed on Solaris, AIX, HP-UX and Linux.

    Many of the internal security folks run Linux on their day to day desktops and only boot into Windows to use Visio or Outlook.

    I use Comcast as my ISP and haven’t had any issues getting support due to Linux use in over 10 years. About a year ago, I had a tech sit down on a slackware console and start typing `ifconfig` to see what was happening. I gave her a root login to my router and watched her verify. In the end, they replaced the cable from the street to my house, all the connectors in their box and my speed was improved to 32Mbps+ – hard to say since my modem was only DOCSIS 2 (38Mbps limited).

    Getting ISP support is much easier now when using Linux. Someday, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Gateway, Acer …. PC makers will pull their heads out of their arses and support Linux too. I say this as I force a Vista reload onto a Dell laptop HDD with a broken motherboard before trying to get it replaced under warranty.

  • James

    My mother, who will be 79 this year, has asked to wipe the Windows partion off her laptop. She has decide that she likes Kubuntu better.

  • Jay

    It’s Murphy’s or maybe Muphry’s law that guarantees that in the same line that we jab the tech support guy’s English, we make the unfortunately common error of spelling what we hear isn’t it? Unless it’s just a typo 🙂

    It’s a southern *drawl*, not a *draw*.


    Nice article, glad to hear somebody out there knows a little more than the average drone I have to deal with every time I have to call a corporation.

  • Evan

    Nice story Richard! You got pretty lucky you got a friendly tech support guy who knows Linux. I work for a university’s Help Desk and got 1 call in my 3 years of somebody using Ubuntu. I was actually able to help her out.

    Props to you from the southwest suburbs of Chicago,

  • Brent R Brian

    I called Time Warner ( about an issue one night (10pm+) and got a tech on the phone that asked about windows … I mentioned linux … they asked me to:

    * setup a guest account
    * open the firewall
    * stay on the line until they could log in …

    I did.

    They logged in, found the problem and had it fixed in 5 minutes (DNS issue).

    The tech comment floored me … “our jobs would be so much easier if everyone had Linux”.


  • Grigori

    A year ago I moved into a new apartment and Comcast came out to set up the cable. I fired up my ubuntu desktop and plugged ethernet in. I was confronted by a “your OS not supported”. The technician asked me what he was looking at. I said “It’s linux. An OS.” he called his area supervisor and said “He’s using ‘linux’??” The supervisor said “What” I had to spell out “L-i-n-u-x” over the two-way.

    The tech didn’t have his own laptop with him and said “This is not compatible with our network. You have to get windows or mac and it will connect.” and left. So I dug though my stuff and found my old windows laptop and finally the charger. I plugged it in and it still wouldn’t work. I called tech support and discovered my old DNS settings were the problem. I erased them and suddenly I had internet without going through the ActiveX registration that Comcast uses. I asked what happened to the registration. The tech support guy said he bypassed it from his end.

    So they can bypass the stupid ActiveX registration they use but when they hear Linux they shut down and say it’s your fault.

  • Eric H

    This is a little OT, but the last time I got tech support from India (years ago), it ended up to be much more interesting than I expected. I don’t even remember what the problem was, but while the guy was waiting for the next part of his script or management approval or whatever, he asked if it was raining here. I live in a desert, it never rains here … except that day, so I said “Yeah, but it’s great”.

    He didn’t even have much of an accent, and there were indicators that the call center was in St. Louis (yeah, right), but there was something strange about the way he asked it. So I asked if it was raining where he was. Yeah, so much that he was basically stranded at work. The road from his house to work was flooded, like shoulder high, and he didn’t think he could carry his bike back through it, so he was just staying at work for another shift. I don’t remember where it was, someplace in India.

    We did not return to the script, I got whatever it was that I needed, and it sure is weird to talk to someone who is that far away in everything except time.

  • Sudarshan

    I hope the mentions of ‘incompetent Indian guy’ does not become a general assumption about all Indian techies. 😐

    Also what Owais (1st comment) said is right. They actually say “Surfing is free but downloading gets charged” 😀 When I tried to discover the meaning, I found that I you browse a site in mobile browser, its free. But if you save(download) anything like .jar, .exe, .zip or some ‘file’ it gets charged.

  • I think that’s the best way

  • @Eric H , It could be Mumbai on year 2006 or 2007

    I’m from India, and tech support we get, is worst, forget the English accent, those people can’t even talk fluent Hindi.

    I don’t even bother to call the tech support, I simply send them a written complain using heavy words.

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  • I absolutely agree – Fedora is a better option 😉

  • Lincoln

    @Pratik, that is the funniest thing I’ve read in a while…

  • tgreer

    Must admit I refuse to use an ISP that supports Linux, or at least doesn’t knock you back for support when you mention you’re using linux.

  • @Pratik

    @Pratik: I am also from India and you are right. Actually that’s how I got my Dell laptop almost renewed while my warranty was about to end. On phone it never ended in anything. They always keep you in a loop of install-uninstall-reinstall-start again :-). So simply write emails with heavy words and make it curt and formal.

    Once a Dell support engineer told me, after a “*.DAT” search returned thousands of files, that I have got so many viruses 😀

    @Owais: I hope you understood the answers you got in previous comments. Funny though…

  • Zac

    Well, I’m glad he even new what Linux is.

    For me, it’s Ubuntu and has been for over 3 years and I never looked back. Bye bye Microsoft.

  • Zac

    Well, I’m glad he even knew what Linux was. Some things are looking up in the world.

    For me, it’s Ubuntu and has been for over 3 years and I never looked back. Bye bye Microsoft.

  • As Owais said surfing is from and downloading is chargable. Lol.

  • Umber Trinko

    Wow, very well said indeed. Makes sense to me dude.


  • For me it is Fedora. Prior to switching fully to linux, I was moving between Ubuntu and XP. Then I tried Fedora and that kick-started my saying bye bye to Windows.

  • anonymous

    I’ve been running Linux for 3 years, my laptop hardrive died and Windows doesn’t run from USB Hardrives(at least back then not sure about today, without a special patch that only worked on a few makes and models).

  • anon

    It’s funny isn’t it? I spoke to a “techie” at 3 Mobile about my mobile broadband and they said “We don’t support Linux” I explained the problem wasn’t with my computer and that I didn’t need “support”, the signal was at fault. Anyway, it’s really annoying to hear “We don’t support Linux” It’s funny though, in maybe 10 years time, they will support it…. maybe…

    The other day a guy I was giving support to said his son had a netbook with Linux on it, he enjoyed it but wanted Windows XP for some reason or another. So even a small minority of “Joe Public” has had some exposure to Linux.

    In fact, most people have, they just don’t realise it. (set top boxes, phones, routers gadgets and gizmos)

  • A lot of us here in India run Linux. I however still need to keep a dual boot Windows installation because whenever my net connection goes down the tech support guys simply blame it on the OS and say they don’t know how to fix it in Linux. I boot to Windows whenever someone from the ISP comes to trouble shoot the connection.

    I used to run Fedora before but now am completely on Kubuntu. I was skeptical about K/Ubuntu because I preferred having everything install off the Fedora DVD rather then having to install it online.

    – Rajiv

  • Joe

    fuck you guys are terrible nerds. Some tech guy uses Linux! NEWS AT ELEVEN

  • anonymous

    Every day around nightfall? Around the time the temperatures change? Try checking the wiring in the house. I’ve had similar issues like this due to the drop in temperature changing the impedance in the wiring in the house (crawlspace/wet basement). Normally during spring and fall when the afternoon and evening temps have their greatest difference. Sometimes I’d just reset the modem and it worked and others it took a while for it to sync back up.

    Worth a shot if nothing else works. Haven’t had this issue in newer homes, just older ones with crappy phone lines.

  • Murali

    1. Things wont change and you have to live with the Indian accent.
    2. Blame it on AT&T on the quality of the people and not the poor guy who spoke!
    3. Finally, why one of the Linux experts start a company to support these troubled souls?

    All the very best to you guys.

  • Sean

    I think if we are open minded enough to want to not use windows, then could we be humble enough not to put all call centre operators in the same box despite our frustrations. I am offended on behalf of the Indian stereotyping. I am a foreigner here in the US. Its not that easy fitting in. I feel like the US has a system or a way and that’s it. I tell you the rest of the world isn’t full of compliments all the time. Tolerance needs to work both ways.


  • jayb33

    In regards to the comments about there “actually being some Indians with some technical knowledge”:

    The thing is, some Indians do actually have some clue about technology. In fact, many of the top computing minds are in or from India. The problem is really in outsourcing. The price isn’t the only thing that drops, the vetting process is also often depreciated. When employing someone in your own country, although it doesn’t really matter where they come from, you typically have someone or a department within reasonable proximity looking through all the CVs and portfolios, interviewing and perhaps doing background checks. When out-sourcing the processes are much more detached and things tend to go wrong here. If you think call centres are usually bad, you should see the problems that can happen when outsourcing coding projects. Another big problem that annoys me is that people just don’t realise that if you pay less, you’ve in for a good chance of getting less.

    The reason this article is merit worthy:

    The only requirement to work in a call centre in India it appears is to speak English. Anything beyond that is a bonus. Only the most basic training seems to be given with a set of very rigid procedures. Any further improvement relies on experience. It’s all about the bare minimum. Sometimes that’s ok, but when it comes to technical issues it can be a big problem, especially when you’ve been through the procedure yourself and the problem is outside of that or something where you can go no further (such as a faulty line). Therefore an Indian in a call centre actually having any kind of a remote clue about the service or product you’re using is phenomenal.

    I really wish companies would just provide a second line or an option for non-laymen. It’s very demeaning when you call, tell them exactly what the problem is and yet they insist on trying to get your to go through their little procedure despite having you having a Degree in CS and having studied everything from a-plus to space robotics & CLAIT to assembly coding.

  • Rahul

    Here in India the effect of Red Hat Linux and now Fedora had been strong for quite a long time. Ubuntu came into the picture much later. Although I am writing this from my netbook running ubuntu, I can tell you that in the good old days of Red Hat I had much more fun tinkering with internals of Linux. Ubuntu has its share of problems I guess.

  • chris

    I’ve worked in tech support for a long time at many of the big players in the business. While there is usually a guideline that we should not say anything that reflects poorly on the company, there is nothing preventing us from admitting that the fault lie with us. Its just that the problem is almost always with the user. If i take 50 calls, 45 of those will be from total beginners, another 3 will be from people who think they know what they are doing (but don’t) and the last 2 will be from people who actually know what they are talking about.
    Its those last 5 that are the problem. The pretend pro’s wants to skip the formalities and go right to what they think is the problem (which almost always is wrong) and the remaining 2 guys who are enthusiasts or pro’s usually have legitimately technically difficult problems. As support there is simply no easy way of telling who’s who so we just go by the numbers like we always do.
    Sure if someone is running some Linux distro it usually indicates that he/she is computer literate but sometimes it also means that the user doesn’t actually know how to properly configure his OS.
    To be fair its quite reasonable that almost all bigger companies exclusively support Windows. Its just not feasible to staff people who are trained to troubleshoot all different kinds of operating systems and provide those techs with the right support tools. On the other hand if the call gets escalated to third line there are usually a couple of guys there that knows Unix and should be able to fix the problem. I’ve worked all tiers of support and successfully resolved issues for people running OS2 Warp and all kinds of weird stuff, but in the end its just really time consuming having to deal with those kinds of problems. Oh well, maybe the business needs to evolve to meet consumer needs and start staffing people with Linux expertise. I wouldn’t want to be the one to run that by corporate though.

  • chris

    Also to add to my previous comment, every week we get calls from some self professed IT professional who at the first opportunity tells us of his extensive experience and qualifications and then it turns out he doesn’t even know what tcpdump is or how to use grep or whatever. Also if there was an option for computer literate users to call on another line it wouldn’t take long for every Tom, Dick and Harry to use that line instead thinking they would get better support.

  • So I work for a Call center here in the states for a web hosting company. I have to say I would enjoy a call like yours. I dread having to call my ISP and I hate when I have to tell my customers that is what they need to do to solve their issue since 9 times out of 10 the ISPs customer service has no idea what ping, tracert, FTP, DNS, or caching means. Sadly most call centers cannot employee tech savvy people because of budget constraints and other factors. I have to say I am personally graced with the fact I work with many tech savvy people on my specific team.

    Basically my rant boils down to we’re not all inept at tech support and if more people took your advice they’d get less cranky phone reps since you can only be cussed for something beyond your control so many times a day before you get annoyed.

  • NAM

    I used to have DSL that would drop out at 6pm everyday and come back up at 11 pm every night. I finally traced the problem to the soccer field behind my house. When the lights came on (night soccer practice for the kids), there was EM interference with the telephone line that ran close to the field. No problem when the lights were off.

  • I am sorry if it came off like I was being negative about anyone from India, that wasn’t the case whatsoever. The call started out horribly because my friend, who is considered a minority in the US, isn’t as level headed or open minded. My friend had to do the entire authorization thing and wasn’t able to understand the person on the other end of the line and became quite rude actually. When I was handed the phone, the first thing I did was apologize for my friend’s behavior. I have no problem with understanding the Indian dialect as I have grown up with people from that region and to this day work with many great people who are from India. So I did not mean to come off condescending at all, and if you feel I did, I really do apologize.

    Another thing I was not trying to do is bash people who work in the tech support area. I have been around a call center before when working for AT&T. People give the tech support people a hell of a time, but never stop to think for once that they way they are communicating with the person on the other end of the line might be the reason you aren’t getting support. People have a job to do, and those jobs have rules. I understand that they have to follow a flow chart and I can live with that, I have learned to not only be patient, but also to treat that person as I would want to be treated if I were in their shoes. And to add, I don’t care where the call center is located, there are always people who shouldn’t be in the position they are in, no matter their ethnicity.

    I just thought it was pretty cool that the person I spoke with not only knew about Linux, but seemed to get excited when I knew about it too, and at that time made a good joke, making the conversation that more fun and interesting.

    For those who want to bash the call centers in India, I would put money on it that more of the people in India working in those call center not only know what Linux is but also use it, far more than all of us Linux people in the US.

  • John

    OwaisNo, you have no idea what you’re talking about. There are more East Indian computer scientists in this world than from any other country.

    One day – probably when you’re working for an East Indian (or possibly a Chinese) – you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

  • Frostcrow

    “Most of the time they can’t distinguish between kbps and kb/s.”

    Stuff like this is priceless…

  • SectorX4

    Woah that completely threw me, what a twist in the story!

    Seriously that’s pretty cool though, wish all helldesk employees had half a clue like him.

  • CyberTech

    Sorry to appear like some sort of troll but, for the top comment, there is NO difference between kbps and kb/s.
    You may be think of the difference between kB/s and kb/s (check the capitalisation).
    B = Byte
    b = bit

    The / is just shorthand for “per” which is what the “p” in kbps stands for.

    So next time you’re speaking to an Indian in tech support, they might be smarter than you.

  • Andrew

    Was going to deride the first poster for his hilarious comment about kbps vs. kb/s but he’s already been smashed several times.

  • I love ubuntu like lot many people…but many people in world don’t know about linux.. yesteday I was in train with a one Irish Friend. I told her that I am working on site related to Ubuntu Linux…She reacted what is Linux??
    These incident encourage me reach mass people for linux..
    so i am in process of development of this site..

    will provide all details related to ubuntu and linux verysoon

  • Anonymous


    Haha, me too. That was the sole reason why I was going to comment 😉

    Other than that, hilarious story.

  • Markus

    The first thing that I have to say, is that people who participate in forums & blogs concerning Linux are usually far more intelligent and have far greater technical knowledge than people who participate on forums & blogs concerning Windows. It’s a real pleasure reading this story, as well as the comments posted by many of you. You articulate and explain properly, your comments are easy to understand, readers can even learn something from the participants, little or no foul language and you address each other with proper human respect. As soon as you get the “Windows Only” crowd involved, the discussions & debates become primitive and immature. Most of them don’t even know what an operating system is or how a computer actually functions, yet they are all experts. The only arguments they have to justify their support for Windows usually centre around: “It plays more games; You guys are Linux / MAC fanboys; You are g#y; You are f#gs; etc., etc.”. The lack of intelligence within those circles really boggles the mind. They are not all like that, but the vast majority are.

    I think these various “customer / technical service” departments would function better if the entire staff was highly knowledgeable. These companies could probably operate with far less staff, since the employees would actually know how to help the client properly and efficiently. The calls would probably take less time. I wonder how much time is wasted on the phone and how often the issues never actually get resolved. You get bumped from one person to another, and then you get knocked off the line. Afterwards you call again and the same thing starts all over. There has to be a cost savings in hiring fewer knowledgeable people and paying them more, rather than having a lot of ignorant people and paying them less. They could probably cut their staff by about half, and get the job done quicker and better.

  • richard

    Interesting thread, with a mix of positive and negative stories.

    I worked in a support organisation while we were outsourcing the support of the product with major support call traffic to india. It really comes down, as someone said above, to economics.

    Way back in a support hierarchy, and never on the phones, there’s somebody with a spreadsheet tracking things like average call costs, call duration, performance against service level agreements.

    And the numbers said they could reduce their average call costs by 84% by expanding the outsourcing. Of course, they did it.

    The indian staff varied a lot in ability (both technical and spoken english). I suspect the cream of the crop coming out of the technical colleges don’t end up in support anyway. Some were good, some were clueless.

    The thing that really hurt our customer satisfaction though, and eventually made me quit, was the staff turnover. The good people never stayed long.

    Reading about the economics of the indian computer services sector, it’s still expanding fast, and demand for labour exceeds supply. So people move frequently when they get a significantly better salary offer. (back two years ago, 25% increase in average salary in one year).

    In other words: the problem is self-correcting. That huge 84% difference in costs has already been cut down significantly. And it was never a real number anyway – they never counted the costs of extra people and lower productivity due to handling complaints and escalations.

  • This is truly awesome. I love the instant kinship most of us Linux users have. Power to the people!

  • YSharma

    I am using AT&T DSL since Nov 2008. First call to AT&T for DSL setup they didn’t made any fuss about NOT using windows and gladly helped me to setup on linux. I am using hardcore linux (Gentoo) but AT&T reps were so friendly and helpful. They didn’t care about distro just provided me with correct setup steps to generate password and within 5-15 minutes I was up and running.

    Companies has to understand that “Whats in OS” if user understands his OS, trust him and help him.

    Look at Fox site, it is not supported on linux, their player doesn’t work on linux browsers 🙁

  • nanyaks

    you guys are even lucky you get to talk to the support staff…down here, if ure lucky, they’ll talk to you, and when they do, u’d probably get a “what are you talking about?” response.
    after about a 10 minute explanation, the call will be “interrupted”, could it really be the network as they claim???

  • sumit

    I live in India. @jayb33 I agree with you.
    “…The only requirement to work in a call centre in India it appears is to speak English…”
    Love Fedora too

  • an

    Random nerd uses linux. Slow news day?

  • Tensigh

    This brings up a question. Do you think Ubuntu is getting around enough that some companies can offer training and support? Granted, there aren’t a lot of non-techies running Ubuntu, but there might be enough that it could be worth their time supporting it.

    I can see supporting one distro over all flavors of Linux. That would be a nightmare for a support manager. “Oh, you’re running Asianux? Hmmm, let’s see, what package manager does that one use…Let me Google it…”

    At least offering support for Ubuntu and FC might be feasible.

    Most of the time they can’t distinguish between kbps and kb/s

    That would be because there is no difference between kbps and kb/s.

    kbps = Kilobits per second
    kb/s = Kilobits per second

  • Pingback: “Por favor, di que usas Fedora” | La Ventana Muerta()

  • BlackRoot

    i am from india working in a non-IT company having over 2000+PCs. And around 80% of the PCs are running on Slackware linux. A few on Windows. As i personally prefer Ubuntu, so i run ubuntu at home.
    In india too there are lot of linux users (atleast with dual boot), same as in US there are not linux users in every household, but u will get them.

  • Mohan

    That there is just priceless!

  • I just had Comcast installed at my house. When the tech guy walked inside to connect the cables he noticed I was not running Windows and asked, “What operating system is that?”. I replied Linux. He then proceeded by calling his office and asking the person on the other line to run a test and provide the output numbers. it was simple.

  • Jalpari284

    i am really glad I’ve found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossips and net and this is really annoying. A good blog with interesting content, that is what I need. Thank you for keeping this web-site, I will be visiting it. 
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