New FAQ last updated on 19 March 1999. Resource list last updated 21 January 1999.

While you're here, won't you visit, my new social networking site and take a look at the future of the genre.

The Internet Provider FAQ, 1999 Version

This is a total rewrite of obsolete portions of the original ISP FAQ, still available below. It contains much more current information. [21 January 1999]

The Internet Access Provider FAQ

This is the older ISP FAQ, containing over 9,000 lines of information on the ISP business, technical factors, and more.

For those who want to print out the FAQ, we have this text format version of the document.

Search the Archives of the List at

SYN Attack information and Patches

As most of you know already, a party or parties unknown started a major attack against PANIX, a NYC-based provider, that almost drove them out of business. SYN Central is a compedium of stories, links and other resources about the attacks.

Secure your router so nobody can make these attacks from within your system by following these simple Cisco configuration steps

Avi Freedman's SunOS Patches can help secure your SunOS system against a SYN attack.

Auxillary Documents I've written

Most of the messages I get nowadays ask about setting up ISPs in rural or remote areas. Here's some information and advice. [21 January 1999]

Here's my quick guide to setting up a remote Point of Presence - or, in layman's language, what to do if you want to offer service in another city.

If you're just getting your feet wet, check out my Advice for Beginning ISPs. If you want to hook up your Linux box to an ISP, as suggested in the advice section, check out the ISP Hookup Howto.

If you want to know how the pieces fit together, check out my new Internet Provider Map

The Porn Debate

My OCAF analysis paper was updated on 15 April 1997, with an update and a link to the OCAF's new web page.

Some crucial events have occured in recent weeks in the ever-present pornography on the net issue.

First, a variation of the Communications Decency act passed as part of a massive telecommunications bill. For more on the Act and how it might affect us, check out the EFF's Blue Ribbon Programme. I urge you and any other concerned ISPs and Net citizens to join.

Second, a political organization called Oklahomans for Children and Families (OCAF) dropped a bombshell on the Internet provider industry: They said that much of the sexual material available on the Internet is illegal pornography, and that they would stop it by getting local authorities to prosecute local ISPs. Check out my analysis of the situation as well as their original position paper.

For an alternative to full censorship, check out Bess the filtered Internet service for kids and families. Their scheme uses a proxy server to filter access to "forbidden" URLs such as Playboy. While I certainly don't like the idea of filtering - I'd hate to have it happen to me! - I think this is an essential step if government-mandated censorship is to be avoided.

The Bess people are selling their filters to ISPs. If you want to offer a filtering service for your provider, check out Bess for ISPs.

There has been an intriguing controversy lately over the quality of blocking programs, with Solid Oak Software, makers of the CyberSitter blocking software, getting the brunt of the criticism. Peacefire, a site created by an enterprising teen, bore the brunt of Solid Oak Software's attempts at censorship. A fascinating story.

Other Resources

Lessons from a Security Breach by Homer Wilson Smith. An excellent summary of what you should do when you discover a hacker attack.

INND Patches from Homer to automatically expire "porn spam" and deal with other ugliness strangling the news system.

Living and ISPing in France is a FAQ on opening a French ISP. So far, it's more entertainment than FAQ, but great entertainment nonetheless. It should put your own problems very much in perspective. (Unfortunately, just as it was getting good, it ended. Hopefully this link will encourage the author to finish his work!)

If you have to ask ... can you afford it? This neat little form lets you price a MCI connection without going through the trouble of talking to their sales department. For the dreamers out there in the audience (I just tried pricing a 45mbps connection, and all I can afford is a 56k!), this is a must-see.

Michael Dillon on RAID contains an excellent explanation of RAID 5

Greg's Famous ISP Map shows a complete map of connectivity in South Africa, his neck of the woods. [27 June 1996]

Avi Freedman's Multi-Homing FAQ discusses this interesting, necessary and expensive step. [Note: This entry has at long last arrived!

Check out this searchable index of the Inet-Access mailing list.

Are you overwhemled by inet-access messages? Try this digest version by clicking on the link to send a blank email to the request address. Note that there is no posting to this list; to post you must be an active inet-access member. [5 October 1997]

Check out this USENET News disk space calculator, although I think it might be a shade out of date in view of today's incredible news volumes.

Want to be really daring? Check out someone's notes on the Russian ISP situation

Frame Relay FAQ contains important information on that way of connecting you to the Internet.

Here's One Modem FAQ and an ISDN FAQ. Here are Init strings for hundres of modems.

Curt's High Speed Modem Page

Barry Caplin's ISP Pages give some good information on multi-homing, security and other issues.

The Compromise FAQ tells you what to do after you've detected an intruder on your system - and what you could do now to prevent it.

Club Traceroute is a list of Internet providers who have consented to run a script that lets you do traceroutes from their web servers. Invaluable for debugging!

The Unix Security Checklist is an excellent summary of changes you should make to your system configuration to make it more secure.

SSLtelnet is telnet off the secure sockets layers protocol (as used by Netscape and friends). You can secure telnet and other applications there.

You'll find more than a few useful things at Chris C's Scripts and Patches for Internet Providers page.

So you wanna be ajn Internet Service Provider? is a comprehensive list of links to various bits and pieces of Internet provider information.

Dave Seigel gives us a tutorial on BGP routing on a CISCO, as well as a related tutorial on peering at a NAP (both in the same file). He comments: "Note, they are two different documents ... the second of which is not quite complete, and both of them need updating." We will, of course, look forward to receiving updated versions. Dave Seigel was the Senior Network Engineer for Net-99 during its heyday. He is also the author of User Tracking and Accounting, an ISP accounting package.

3COM's white paper on understanding IP addressing helps you make sense out of this often confusing topic.

The CIDR FAQ includes an excellent explanation of this often confusing subject.

If you're using Linux as an ISP, the Linux ISP HOWTO should be useful. [Note corrected URL]

To try and find existing Internet providers in your area, use The List

Virtual Domains

This rather complex subject is something that will be in increasing demand by our customers, as more and more people get into the WWW and want their own domain name (InterNIC fee or no).

Note: This information has now been added; if you tried these links before and got a file not found message, please try again.

You can read either or both of these explanations to get excellent coverage of this amazingly complex subject.

Want virtual domains for your FTP server? Check out these patches to wu-ftpd.

Homer Wilson Smith explains Virtual Domains.

Gintaras Richard explains Virtual Domains

On his web site, Barry Caplin has full instructions on how to do virtual homing on Linux.

Fun & Humour

Meet The Backhoe, enemy of network administrators everywhere! [29 July 1997]

The Bastard Operator from Hell is a world-renouned humour piece that helps keep many technical support people on the brink of insanity, instead of gibbering away in the asylum. Here is another archive [29 July 1997]

Questions or comments?

If you have questions or comments on this page, drop a line to the author at

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