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BT HomeHub doesn't work with dual-boot Linux

David Ludlow
1 Jul 2011
BT HomeHub 2.0
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Won't give out an IP address if you're running more than one OS

Expert Reviews readers have run into a problem with the BT HomeHub 2.0 router, where they can't get an internet connection from Linux.

We were alerted to the problem by reader Steve Webb, who said that on his dual-boot PC Windows worked correctly, but booting into Ubuntu prevented him from getting an internet connection. A long thread on the BT forums has frustrated users venting their fury at the problem.

"Ubuntu cannot acquire an IP address from the router. I have to do a factory reset on the router to get an address," wrote forum poster Lowebb. "It's a bit pathetic TBH and I'm quite annoyed about this."

Other users have reported similar problems with other Linux distributions, meaning that the problem isn't limited to just Ubuntu.

The issue seems to be that the HomeHub 2.0 doesn't like giving out two IP addresses to the same MAC address. A MAC address is a unique identifier for your computer's network connection that's tied to the physical hardware. It's used by routers to identify computers, but in the HomeHub 2.0's case it's causing problems. Rather than just dish out an IP address to Linux, the HomeHub appears to notice that it's already given a computer an address for Windows. With no IP address, Linux can't connect to the internet.

Unfortunately, while BT knows what the problem is, the solution could be a long time coming.

"We recognise that a firmware update has caused problems for some customers switching between Linux and Windows. At this time we have not been able to identify an issue with Android devices. We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible and aim to have a solution by the end of 2011," said a BT spokesperson. "We apologise for this delay but we need to test that this solution does not cause other issues. We did not pick this up in previous testing as the situation in which this occurs, switching between Linux and Windows, is carried out by very few people in comparison to other technical operations."

In the meantime BT recommends that Linux users set the OS to use a static IP address. Upgrading to a different router could also be the answer. We've not heard of any reports that the BT HomeHub 3.0 suffers from the same problem, but if any readers know otherwise please write in and let us know.

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