Today I was asked to fix a computer, which isn’t anything new. But this one posed a slightly different problem to usual.
The computer had been restored to factory settings, and in the process it had lost the settings that configured it for internet connection.
Seemed like a simple enough job, Windows XP, just run the Network Setup Wizard and set up a new connection.
So, I did this and it went fine. Opened up the only browser that was installed, Internet Explorer, to test the connection.
I was presented with Internet Explorer‘s “Webpage unavailable offline” dialogue.
Now, my first though was that perhaps the connection hadn’t been configured properly by the wizard. After about ten minutes of retrying, manually changing settings, trying IE again, etc.
I realised I could check whether the connection was working by checking “ipconfig” in Command Prompt.
Checking in CMD showed that the computer was in fact properly connected to the network, and that it was only Internet Explorer that was not working.
So I tried to configure the internet connection with IE, to find that it crashed when attempting to open the correct dialogue.
The problem now, is that I know the computer is connected to the network but I can’t actually access the web. The obvious solution would be to install another browser, but without being able to download one it gets a little more difficult to do that. Downloading it on another computer and copying over via memory stick or other portable storage would be the next step, but I didn’t have any at hand.
Being pretty resilient I couldn’t bare to just give it up. I thought for a while trying to figure out any possible solutions.
A few ideas came to me, such as using Notepad to open “https://www.google.com/search?q=Firefox” but that didn’t work, Notepad just complained that the format of the filename was incorrect.
I decided to give FTP a go, from CMD. So I opened up CMD, and typed
After making several guesses of what server to connect to (being that I couldn’t just look it up) I managed to connect to
Hurray, I had some progress. Now, login? Ah, that’s no good!
Thankfully, after trying a blank login I was presented with a very helpful message saying “503 This FTP server is anonymous only.”
So, I retried and typed “Anonymous” as both the user and password.
Then, after various
ls commands I finally found what I needed,
Firefox Setup 10.0.exe.
recv "Firefox Setup 10.0.exe" and a double click on the EXE, Firefox was successfully installed and I ran it to see that I had, in fact, successfully fixed the internet connection.
I’d say that’s a job pretty well done!
The moral of this story: always have a memory stick handy if some asks you to fix their computer.
If you want to try it yourself, there’s a full log of me repeating this in the Terminal on Fedora, with all the exact same commands here.
Alternatively, here’s the sequence of commands (without their output):
ftp o ftp.mozilla.org Anonymous (when prompted for username) Anonymous (when prompted for password) cd pub cd firefox cd releases cd 10.0 cd win32 cd en-GB recv "Firefox Setup 10.0.exe"