foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world

Running the Xnet Usage Monitor tool under Linux

, posted: 14-Sep-2007 11:27

Update: This article talks about the lack of an online or Linux version of Xnet's broadband usage meter. As you can see in the comments, I was quickly being educated on my oversight: An online version exists, and there is also a Firefox extension, which makes the meter available under Linux, sort of. Not quite the same functionality, but still a good job from Xnet. Nevertheless, the point I am making about Wine and software vendors remains valid, I would think.

So, a couple of days ago I switched from Telecom/XTRA to Xnet as my ISP. The switchover was completely painless, and in no time at all I was up and running. There was a minor issue, and the Xnet tech support was quick and helpful. Looks like the good things I heard about them are true.

Anyway, while I was with XTRA, I occasionally tried to check my current bandwidth usage. Sadly, their web-site never (!) worked in that respect. Not once was I able to get a report about my usage from them. Oh well, XTRA is all in the past for me, so on to Xnet... Well, sadly Xnet doesn't seem to offer any overview of your current usage on their web-site. Why not, I wonder? That shouldn't be so difficult? Instead, they offer a Windows-only application, which you can download and run... unless you don't use Windows! I'm running Ubuntu 7.04 on my laptop.

Seriously, Xnet: Why don't you just make this information available on your web-site? That would be so much easier for your users as well as for you (less support issues).

Anyway, I thought to myself: Why don't I try to run this piece of software anyway? Isn't that what Wine is for? Not having much experience with Wine at all, only using it occasionally to start IE so that I'm able to use a few crappy IE-only web-sites, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

So, I started the 'Xnet usage monitor' installer with Wine... and it worked! I then started the usage monitor ... and it worked as well! Even with the icon in the notification area, right-clickable and all. Needless to say, I was suitably impressed.

I get the impression that many of the smaller Windows-only utilities are probably going to tun without any problems using Wine.

In the end, though, I am wondering whether this is all really such a good idea. After all, if I can get this usage monitor to work then Xnet now has even less reason to provide an SaaS version or even native Linux version. So, while I am happy about being able to run the usage monitor, I can imagine that if someone comes to them, requesting to make this tool available for Linux, they will just tell that person to use Wine...

However, in many cases the hope to exert any kind of pressure on software vendors to create Linux versions of their software as well is probably thwarted by the (still) relatively low market penetration of Linux - at least in the Desktop / consumer area. Until this changes, we have the old chicken and egg problem: People won't get Linux because their software might not run. Software vendors won't create Linux versions, because people are not getting Linux.


Until then I am happy I have Wine.


Other related posts:
Attack on net neutrality right here in New Zealand
How about: Three strikes and YOU are out, Xnet?
ISP filtering in Australia: Think about the children!

Comment by scottpalmer, on 14-Sep-2007 12:44

Try here to check your usage online :-)

Comment by Filterer, on 14-Sep-2007 12:45

There is a firefox plugin as well, works great!

Author's note by foobar, on 14-Sep-2007 13:00

Scott: Uhm.... where exactly should I check?

Filterer: Hey, this is great! For some reason I must have missed that when I installed the executable. Sadly, this doesn't allow me to see my history...

Comment by scottpalmer, on 14-Sep-2007 13:01

Damn, link didnt work

Author's note by foobar, on 14-Sep-2007 13:04

So, with the Firefox extension, I can at least see the current usage total, albeit not the history. Ok.

Still, though, I guess the point about Wine and lack of motivation for software vendors to create Linux versions of their software remains.

I hand it to Xnet, though: Creating a Firefox extension was very useful and nice.

Author's note by foobar, on 14-Sep-2007 13:07

Scott: Ah, that link works. Thanks!

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New Zealand

  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.

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