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Old 11-29-2010, 11:11 AM   #1
catkin
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BSNL website cannot be used with Linux


Hello

We've had reports of websites that don't work with Linux. Most could be used by setting a suitable UserAgent string but this one is extreme.

BSNL is India's national telecommunications utility and ISP. The same one that apparently injected HTTP packets to take newly authenticated users to one of their advertising sites as described in this LQ thread.

Now they have introduced a new site where ADSL customers can review their usage. A useful facility when the cost of exceeding monthly transfer is punitive and average incomes are low. But it is not useful for everyone. It is not useful for Linux users. The currently supported OS and browser combinations are "Internet Explorer on PC" and "Safari and FireFox on Mac".

I tried with Firefox, Opera and SeaMonkey on Linux. In Firefox I tried a variety of UserAgent strings but none of them got the logon page to work.

Technically speaking, how can this be happening? If Firefox works on Mac (IDK which versions of either) why would it not work on Linux? Where/how might the OS get involved in a browser rendering HTTP/HTTPS data?

Here's how the three browsers behave
  • Firefox with JavaScript turned off: the site displays "Scripting is used to manage data interactions between the Siebel server/Web Server and the User Interface. This requires JavaScript to be enabled in the web browser".
  • Firefox with JavaScript enabled and SeaMonkey: both display the URL http://selfcare.sdc.bsnl.co.in/selfcare/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=selfcare.sdc.bsnl.co.in but go into an infinite wait.
  • Opera doesn't display anything.
Very strange

For the curious who would like to explore, the URL is http://selfcare.sdc.bsnl.co.in/selfcare/

Best

Charles
 
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:35 AM   #2
DavidMcCann
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I've just tried that link with Midori and got a display like this

<APPLICATION NAME="Siebel eCustomer">
<USER_AGENT MARKUP="XML"/>
<NAVIGATION_ELEMENTS>

In other words, just the source code! I presume you've tried complaining? If BSNL is a state monopoly, I presume that won't work?
 
Old 11-29-2010, 02:53 PM   #3
yancek
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I clicked on your link and got a page saying BSNL Customer Care at top left. Below that was information about entering a secure page with some user options to log on. Could not actually do anything on the page even copying the paragraph, entering in the User ID box, or clicking any of the links below Login box. Using firefox 3.0.
 
Old 11-30-2010, 12:52 PM   #4
honeybadger
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I really wonder if the recommended browsers will work correctly .
I do not think that the company hires someone who has any understanding of any operating systems. Anyway, if opera does not work I would pretty much give up hope of anything working.
 
Old 11-30-2010, 01:05 PM   #5
impert
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I've just tried (Firefox/Linux). At first I got the bit about java script having to be enabled, then, after a very long time, the page came up. Maybe you need to wait longer, or change the timeout period. Maybe whether or not you're in India makes a difference.
Edit:Oops. Like yancek, I couldn't do anything on the page

Last edited by impert; 11-30-2010 at 01:07 PM.
 
Old 11-30-2010, 01:34 PM   #6
impert
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Just tried with the Mac/Safari 4.1. (Same router & ISP). It worked, I can enter any nonsense in their ID and password boxes, and be told that the password is not correct.
Seems like a blatant case of discrimination against linux.

Last edited by impert; 11-30-2010 at 01:35 PM. Reason: Typo
 
Old 11-30-2010, 01:59 PM   #7
GrapefruiTgirl
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I thought Silverlight, or lack thereof, was to blame for the site working or not, because that page is trying to run a Silverlight application. I get the little hourglass/clock icon while waiting for the app to start, but it never does. It's similar to the delay awaiting a Java Applet/application to start, except that that actually starts eventually..

Now (as if the edit) I don't know if silver/moonlight is to blame or not.

In a sort of weird clash of words on this Microsoft "Get Silverlight" page, there are links to installers for Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, Windows, and Mac. I didn't pursue further or download anything, but I'm curious if there's something to be downloaded from there (I'm thinking browser plugin, but maybe more..), that would make the BSNL page work?

Curious... Good luck!

EDIT: Looks like that will be Moonlight, for Linux..

EDIT2: Moonlight plugin does not fix it either, though the page behaves quite differently now with the plugin installed and the User Agent set to MS/IE6. I get a nice purple background (never was there before), and an empty browser popup window appears.

EDIT3: Ha! Got it to work, but not perfect. Cannot describe the problem precisely, but has to do with (1)popup, (2)login applet program, and (3)size of login window. Yes, this makes little sense; but, the login window is supposed to be a popup with an applet of some sort, inside it. Are you getting any popup window, catkin?. The page *is* actually working, while it is sitting there doing nothing - it is awaiting your login information. The problem is, seems the text fields are in a different spot in the browser window than the applet-thing thinks they are. Shrinking the window down to the size of a popup, aligned the two things, and allowed me to enter text and click the buttons. I took a couple screenshots but for some reason I cannot attach them to this thread... Well, I'm sure you can reproduce what I have, and probably more - maybe giving full freedoms to resize, reshape, open/close browsers, allow popups, disable noscript, etc., to that website (let it run rampant) then perhaps it would work better. Seems to me, if the popup were working reliably (which it is not for me) then this problem might go away totally.

Continued fun & good luck with this!

Last edited by GrapefruiTgirl; 11-30-2010 at 03:42 PM.
 
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:40 PM   #8
impert
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Quote:
Shrinking the window down to the size of a popup, aligned the two things, and allowed me to enter text
Worked for me too with linux. A brilliant bit of troubleshooting.
 
Old 11-30-2010, 07:40 PM   #9
catkin
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Hey Sasha that was brilliant!

I'm busy with some other things now but will use what you have found out and explore further later.
 
Old 11-30-2010, 11:03 PM   #10
mlangdn
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All I did was shrink the window and was able to enter text in the boxes. I am using FF-4.0b7
 
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:09 PM   #11
TheIndependentAquarius
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlangdn View Post
All I did was shrink the window and was able to enter text in the boxes. I am using FF-4.0b7
That worked for me too, but I couldn't understand the technical reasons behind this behavior
 
Old 11-30-2010, 11:13 PM   #12
mlangdn
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I think its just bad coding on the webmaster's part.
 
Old 11-30-2010, 11:17 PM   #13
catkin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anishakaul View Post
That worked for me too, but I couldn't understand the technical reasons behind this behavior
Yes -- it's the technical side that interests me most, especially what goes on between the browser and the OS that means the same browser can use this site on one OS but not on another.
 
Old 11-30-2010, 11:26 PM   #14
TheIndependentAquarius
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catkin View Post
that means the same browser can use this site on one OS but not on another.
I think Firefox software has been coded differently for Linux and Windows. If that site didn't work with Firefox on Suse, it won't even work for Firefox on Fedora!

I think the issue has nothing to do with the underlying OS. Either it is the webmaster's fault or the Firefox's fault.
 
Old 12-01-2010, 12:00 AM   #15
catkin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anishakaul View Post
Either it is the webmaster's fault or the Firefox's fault.
Firefox is very widely used so it is very unlikely that the unusual symptoms are caused by Firefox which leaves the website design choices as the likely cause.

The website designers may have chosen to use some unusual facilities, ones which are not widely available such as (reference Sasha's investigation) Silverlight/Moonlight and whatever is used for the logon popup applet. It may be that technical enthusiasm for such facilities has overshadowed choosing a common standards based browser interface. Not so much a "fault" as an excess of technical zeal ... ?
 
  


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