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      BPA Login Tutorial

      The following tutorial is from and was written by the original author of BPA Login (Shane Hyde). Unfortunately its a little out of date but in the near future it will be updated. To download BPA Login please follow the following link to the download site.

      Connecting to Big Pond Advance using Linux

      When you subscribe to Big Pond Advance (BPA) you'll very quickly find that BPA only support a couple of operating systems (Win9x/NT/2000 & MacOS). So what if you want to use Linux? The answer is…you are on your own…well almost.

    This article will describe how to get your Linux machine hooked up to BPA. Each step must be complete before attempting the later steps. There are quite a few places & things that can go wrong, so I will give a few places to ask for help at the bottom of the article.

    Last Caveat - These instructions were written using RedHat Linux 6.1. You can pick it up from or for around $7. Other distributions should work, but may be slightly different.

    Step 1 - The Network Interface Card (NIC)
    Before anything else, you have to get the Linux system to detect and support your NIC. If you do not yet have a NIC, then I recommend a RealTek-based card, they work just fine, and cost around $15 for the 8029 10Mbps one.  These are generally sold as NE2000 clones.

    If you have an unusual card, you'll need to hunt around some of the Linux sites to find out details of the card, and ensure you have the correct driver. It may be easier to get a new $15 PCI card, if your card is too obscure.

    If you are installing a new machine, have the NIC installed before installing Linux, as most modern distributions (like RedHat, Mandrake, etc) will detect and install drivers for cards at install time.

    Step 2 - DHCP
    Now that we have the NIC installed and a driver for it, we need to set up DHCP. BPA uses DHCP to assign dynamic IP addresses to the customers. DHCP also provides details of the Name Servers, and the network domains to the customer.

    The easiest way to do this is to use linuxconf. Linuxconf is installed as standard on RedHat 6.1, and may be included in other distributions. Run linuxconf as root, and go to Config/Networking/Client tasks/Basic Host Information. For adapter 1, choose Enabled, DHCP, and select the correct driver from the module list (using Ctrl+X). Add it as eth0 as the device name. If it is an ISA NIC, you will need to set the IRQ and IO Port for the card. Choose Quit, and Activate the changes.

    If you do not have linuxconf, you can either set up DHCP based on your distribution, or you can do the following - 

    • Download
    • Extract the tar, and cd into the directory
    • ./configure
    • make install
    • Now issue dhclient eth0 and you should see some info, and a successful DHCP allocation
    • Add dhclient eth0 somewhere in the startup so you get an IP on bootup

    Now do an ifconfig, we should see something like the following -

    eth0    Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:40:33:A0:B1:7A
            inet addr:144.132.3.XX Bcast: Mask:
            UP BROADCAST RUNNING MTU:1500 Metric:1
            RX packets:280275 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
            TX packets:165863 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
            collisions:12378 txqueuelen:100
            Interrupt:9 Base address:0xe000

    If not try doing an ifup eth0, and see what messages you get.

    There are many varied things that can go wrong here, and there is no point continuing until you have eth0 up and using DHCP. Make sure the cables are OK, and that the cable modem is working and connected.

    Step 3 - Check that the Name server works.
    Before you connect to BPA, there are a couple of machines you can actually connect to without authenticating. They are the name servers, and a machine called dce-server.

    To ensure you have DHCP correctly working, type ftp dce-server at the prompt. Its name should resolve, and you should get a connection to it. If the name doesn't resolve, go back and make sure the NIC & DHCP are working correctly. If the ftp server do not respond, it may because BPA are having an internal problem. I have never seen dce-server not respond, apart from during an outage.

    If you have successfully ftped to dce-server then you are nearly there, and most of the hard part is done.

    Step 4 - Installing an authentication client.
    OK, your system is now ready to install some software to authenticate with BPA. There are three choices -
    • BPALogin ( - Maintained by myself, it works on many different platforms (Windows/UNIX/BeOS) with a very small footprint size. Source for all platforms is available
    • Bids2login (unknown) - a PERL script written by an ex-BPA contractor. Unsupported. 
    • BPC_NO (unknown) - a JAVA based client written by David Seikel

    I haven't used the other 2, so I will just detail how to get BPALogin working. There are numerous packagings of BPALogin, but there are 4 that relate to Linux

    • bpalogin-1.5-3.i386.rpm - RedHat 6.x & Mandrake 7 RPM file, will only work on x86 systems 
    • bpalogin-1.5-3.src.rpm - RedHat 6.x & Mandrake 7 SRPM file. If you have a non-x86 (like a Sparc) system, you can do a rpm -rebuild bpalogin-1.5-2.src.rpm and create a new package. This method also works if you have RedHat 5.x (which has an older version of glibc) 
    • bpalogin-1.5-unix.src.tar.gz - a standard UNIX Tarball. This should work with all Linux's, Solaris, SunOS, and most Unixes. 
    • bpalogin-1.5-precomp-linux.tar.gz - a precompiled x86 version for Linux systems with kernels >= 2.2. This should work on all x86-Linux's.

    Once you have decided which you need to use, the following table describes the steps required for each version -

    System Steps
    bpalogin-1.5-2.i386.rpm Execute rpm -i bpalogin-1.5-3.i385.rpm
    bpalogin-1.5-2.src-rpm Execute a rpm -rebuild bpalogin-1.5-3.src.rpm Then you can install the newly created rpm as above. It will be in /usr/src/redhat/RPMS
    bpalogin-1.5-unix.src.tar.gz Extract the tarball with tar xvfz bpalogin-1.5-unix.src.tar.gz. cd into the bpalogin-1.5 directory. Then do a make install.
    bpalogin-1.5-precomp-linux.tar.gz Place the file bpalogin somewhere like /usr/sbin, and place the file bpalogin.conf into /etc.

    At the end of this all methods have generally installed the following files - 

    • bpalogin executable file. It will generally be in /usr/sbin 
    • bpalogin.conf configuration file. This should be in /etc. Make sure bpalogin.conf is chmod 600 and owned by root. Otherwise you password is vulnerable. 
    • bpalogin.init an initialisation script. This will usually be in /etc/rc.* somewhere, based on the system. This script can be used to start and stop bpalogin. On RH systems it gets installed into /etc/rc.d/init.d/bpalogin.

    Now edit the bpalogin.conf file, and set your username and password.

    # Default debug level is 1. Values range from 0-2 with 0 being silent 
    debuglevel 1 
    username dparrish 
    password notmypass 
    #authserver dce-server 
    #loginprog /etc/rc.d/rc.masq

    Lines starting with a # are comments. The default value of authserver (which is also dce-server) is correct, and should work fine.

    OK, now we are ready to start BPALogin. If you have a version that has installed bpalogin.init (like RedHat/Mandrake), then you can start BPALogin using /etc/rc.d/init.d/bpalogin start

    You can also start BPALogin using bpalogin -c /etc/bpalogin.conf

    OK, now ping, and make sure it works. Try other sites as well, as that site is hosted on BPA, and could possibly be down.

    Step 5 - Checking that BPALogin connected
    When BPALogin starts and performs some authentication, it writes information to the syslog.  The syslog is (of course) the system log.  Linux systems generally write this information into a file, which may be stored in /var/log.  On RedHat systems it goes to /var/log/messages.

    It is possible on a Linux system, for the system log, to go almost anywhere.  The reason I am making this clear, is that it may be up to you to know where the syslog is being written to.  I am assuming that if you are using a less popular distribution on Linux, you know what you are doing.  Parts of the syslog can be split into different files as well.  Check /etc/syslog.conf to see where your logging is going.

    Anyway, once you have located your syslog, you can check in there to see what bpalogin is doing.  Just do a grep bpalogin /var/log/messages (or where your syslog is).  You should see -

    Mar 13 22:15:44 trontech bpalogin[25973]: BPALogin v1.5 - lightweight portable BIDS2 login client
    Mar 13 22:15:44 trontech bpalogin[25973]: Auth host = dce-server:5050
    Mar 13 22:15:44 trontech bpalogin[25973]: Listening on port 3214
    Mar 13 22:15:44 trontech bpalogin[25973]: Logged on as dparrish - successful at Mon Mar 13 22:15:44 2000
    Mar 13 22:15:44 trontech bpalogin: bpalogin startup succeeded

    This tells us that BPALogin was successfully able to authenticate to the BPA system.  If you see other information here, such as "Could not connect to auth server", you should go back to step 2, and check that you have an IP address, and you can ping dce-server.  Note that you get the same message when BPA have an outage.

    You should now be able to ping the outside world.  Don't try to ping  It is amazing how many try this as the first ping.  MS have disabled pings to/from their systems due to vulnerabilities in NT4.  Try

    Step 6 - Making BPALogin start Automatically
    If you installed the rpm file into RedHat or Mandrake, your work is done.  BPALogin will start automatically at init levels 3 & 5.  Enjoy.

    Otherwise, you need to make some way for the bpalogin.init script to be executed at start up.  You can use SYS V init scripts, or init directly, or through rc.local.  However you do it is up to you.  You need to either issue a /usr/sbin/bpalogin -c /etc/bpalogin.conf or use the init script from where it was installed.

    Getting Help
    OK, so something isnt working, where do you go?  If you are having trouble with your NIC or getting DHCP to work, then go to and check out the HOWTO files on Ethernet (Ethernet-HOWTO), Networking-Overview-HOWTO.  Also look into the Mini-HOWTO's and other parts of the LDP.

    You can also check on the News Server at BPA.  There is a newsgroup called, ask your question there.

    You can also mail me at, but I would prefer to keep these to questions/issues about BPALogin itself not functioning.  If you send me a question about getting some obscure NIC to work in Linux, I'll most probably ignore it.

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