The madness of SMC

Well I've a little bit less hair today due to an ancient SMC 7301TA ISDN router. It seemed like it was going to be a simple job. Configure an ISDN router to DUN1 into a remote system for maintenance. How hard could it be? Pretty hard it turned out.

I naively thought that I would be able to use the web interface of a router made in 2001 on Firefox/Linux. Nope, just locked it up or crashed it completely2. So, I then tried ies4linux. This uses wine to run Internet Explorer on Linux. That got me into the router but then the page showed all of these little empty boxes; a curse of Java applets. I installed the Windows version of Java (in Wine) but that just gave more errors. In desperation I loaded up a Windows 2000 image in QEMU I keep on the laptop (for just these occasions). But that failed too.

Why? Because the Sun JRE/JDK doesn't have a class called DynamicTable. After googling for the error I found that two other people had run into the same issue; neither had solved it. And then it hit me – DynamicTable had to be in the Microsoft Java VM not the Sun one.

Why on earth did SMC use a browser interface that uses Java applets that only work with an obscure, out of date, Microsoft VM. Why on earth did they use Java applets? Does anyone else's? I found an old copy of the Microsoft VM and installed it, but I already had the Sun one installed and they didn't play fair. I've probably screwed up the Win2K image now. I gave up. At least the router has got a telnet/terminal interface3. Naturally it's not documented anywhere.

The Microsoft VM has all but disappeared, but those ISDN routers are still out there. This is what you get when you base your products around a proprietary technology that can just be EOLed on the whim of the company.

Telnet anyone?

  1. Dial Up Networking; a faintly anachronistic term now that we tend to connect via WiFi or broadband.↩︎

  2. It's a bit worrying that Firefox can still dump you out completely (thank god for auto-saved sessions), but then these pages were laden with Java applets.↩︎

  3. The router at least supports a Cisco-lite like terminal interface. Yes, it's just as awful as the Cisco version.</small>↩︎