More than two years ago I bought a Cisco 877W for using it as my home router. It has worked reasonably well so far. But as almost every other complex software Cisco’s operating system IOS has bugs, some of them are even security vulnerabilities. The usual procedure in such a case is to download an update provided by the software vendor, install it and reboot the system. Unfortunately it is not that easy with Cisco, they don’t allow people to just download software updates, not even security fixes.
The only way to get access to software updates is purchasing a Cisco support contract. Buying such a support contract is not an easy task. You need to figure out the right type of support contract (unless you want to spend more than a thousand pounds on it), find a Cisco reseller and then fight with the bureaucrats at Cisco who struggle to deal with customers that don’t have a business address. They apparently don’t want home users to use their products.
When I finally got my support contract I thought all was well now. I was able to download the latest IOS image available back then, installed it on my Cisco router and didn’t encouter any problems. But in September Cisco published a new security advisory. I went to their support website, looked for a firmware update and did not find one. I checked the advisory again and found out that the update for the firmware version that I am using wouldn’t be available before October, the 23th.
Last Thursday (a day ahead of schedule … hurray) the update was finally available on Cisco’s website. I downloaded it, installed it and found out that IPv6 doesn’t work properly in this release. Cisco broke support for the Neighbor Discovery Protocol (which is as essential to IPv6 as ARP is to IPv4) without even noticing it. I had to downgrade the IOS on my Cisco router to the previous version to get IPv6 working again. I tried to submit a bug report via their support website but it doesn’t provide me with that option. I guess I need to buy a more expensive support contract to be entitled to inform Cisco about bugs in their software.
All together I can see a very clever business scheme in there:
- You sell expensive hardware and software which inevitably contains bugs.
- You let customers pay for fixing these bugs via expensive support contracts.
- You ask customers for even more money before you allow them to actually submit bugs.
With that strategy you can generate a lot of revenue. You don’t even have to invest in software quality because that would only reduce your earnings. And your customers will think twice before troubling you about software bugs.
Can somebody please release an affordable and reliable A-DSL home router with fully functional IPv6 support? Pretty, pretty please? 🙁