‘Waiting for…’ (Why I could not access a home hub’s management page)

I had not been able to access the Manager of the BT Home Hub 3 on my home network to view and configure the hub’s settings. All the network’s users could access the Internet, and I could ping the hub, but trying to access the BT Home Hub Manager from a Web browser resulted in the message ‘Waiting for…’. The same thing happened whatever the PC, OS, browser and method of connection (wired or wireless). Sometimes, after about ten minutes or so, an incomplete Manager page would appear, but usually the browser would just display ‘Waiting for…’ forever.

I should point out that my Ethernet wired connections use Powerline adapters (HomePlug) connected to the mains wiring of my semi-detached house.

Actually, I did find a temporary work-around to enable me to access the Home Hub Manager. If I switched off then on the power supply to the Home Hub I could access the Manager for a short period (the time varied, but typically was less than half an hour). Then I would be back in the same position of seeing ‘Waiting for…’ in a browser window if I tried later to access the Manager. Although I do not need to access the Home Hub Manager often, it was still a nuisance to have to cycle the power to the hub every time I needed to access the Manager.

Searching the Web, it seems this is quite a common problem and can occur irrespective of the manufacturer of the hub (or router) and its IP address. In some cases users have fixed the problem by upgrading the hub’s firmware or by performing a ‘factory reset’ of the hub, but some users never found a solution.

In my case, the BT Home Hub 3 has the latest available version of firmware installed. Not only did I check that via the Web, I also checked the firmware version of another BT Home Hub 3 in the house of someone I know who lives in another town. The curious thing was that he has no trouble accessing the BT Home Hub Manager (also IP address

So I decided to perform a ‘factory reset’ of the Home Hub, but that made no difference.

Then, after many hours searching the Web, I found a thread about a similar problem with a different model of hub: Can’t access BT HomeHub 4? But I’m online ok?. A post by user troublegum in that thread made me sit up:

I still reckon it’s the homeplugs. Regardless of whether your PC is connected to it or not, If one of them is connected to your neighbour’s as well as your router, then it’s going to put 2 DHCP servers on your network.

Disconnect the homeplug from the router, renew your DHCP lease if necessary and try again.

Even before finding that thread I had wondered if the problem was somehow linked to my use of Powerline (HomePlug) adapters.

It seems that, if one PC on a home network is connected to the Home Hub via a Powerline adapter AND a neighbour also happens to be using Powerline adapters AND his single-phase mains house wiring is somehow linked to yours (which is unusual, as adjacent houses are normally connected to a different mains phase), there is the possibility that none of your PCs will be able to access the Home Hub Manager (even if they are connected directly to the Home Hub by Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi rather than via a Powerline adapter).

I have been using Powerline (HomePlug) adapters successfully for about nine years. In late December 2012 I changed from HomePlug 1.0 adapters (14 Mbps) to HomePlug AV adapters (200 Mbps). HomePlug 1.0 adapters and HomePlug AV adapters can operate concurrently over the same mains wiring but can only communicate with adapters of the same standard. The problem of not being able to access the Home Hub Manager started two or three years ago, so I assume that either my neighbour began using Powerline adapters at that time or, coincidentally, I changed to the same standard and manufacturer of Powerline adapter he uses.

Powerline adapters each have a non-volatile encryption key, intended to enable separate Powerline networks to co-exist on the same mains wiring by using a different encryption key for each network.

Since the end of December 2012 I have been using NETGEAR XAVB1301 200 Mbps Powerline adapters but had not bothered to change the encryption key in them (they all come configured with the factory default encryption key ‘HomePlugAV’). If my neighbour happens to be using Powerline adapters with the same default encryption key, and a hub with the same IP address as mine, we would both have two DHCP servers on the same network.

So I changed the encryption key on each of the four Powerline adapters I use:

  • Ethernet connection from the BT Home Hub to a mains socket in the Lounge.
  • Ethernet connection from a PC to a mains socket in the Lounge.
  • Ethernet connection from a laptop to a mains socket in my upstairs office.
  • Ethernet connection from a laptop to a mains socket in a bedroom.

It is supposed to be easy to set the encryption key in the model of Powerline adapter I use. You have to press a button on one adapter for 2 seconds, then a button on the next adapter for 2 seconds, and so on. You have to do them all within 2 minutes. The adapters only generate an encryption key once, so if you want to repeat the process you first have to press a recessed Factory Reset button on all the adapters.

However, despite following to the letter the instructions in the NETGEAR manual, I could not get all four adapters to connect to the network. So I downloaded the NETGEAR Powerline Universal Utility, installed it on the PC running Windows 10 in my lounge, connected the Ethernet port of that PC to one of the Powerline adapters and plugged it into a mains wall socket, plugged the other three Powerline adapters into a multi-socket mains adapter and plugged that into a mains wall socket in the lounge, launched the Powerline Universal Utility and I allocated all four adapters the same encryption key. Each adapter has its own MAC address, serial number and ‘Device Password’ (PWD) printed on it, and the NETGEAR utility program required me to enter the relevant PWD for each MAC address. Then I entered an encryption key (any string of characters of my choice) and clicked a button to set the adapters to use that encryption key. As that encryption key is different to the default key used by my neighbour, the two networks can now coexist without interfering with each other.

NETGEAR Powerline Utility showing my four Powerline adapters

NETGEAR Powerline Utility showing my four Powerline adapters.

The use of the NETGEAR Powerline utility program is explained in NETGEAR’s ‘How To’ Setting network encryption key on Powerline Adapters using the Config utility.

Problem finally solved! I can now access the Home Hub Manager without any trouble. And, as a bonus, Internet access seems a little quicker.

Installing the DraftSight Free 2D CAD application in Gentoo Linux

I occasionally have to view AutoCAD files and had been using a 2009 version of VariCAD Viewer for Linux, installed from an RPM package using the rpm command in Gentoo Linux. It was the only version that I could get to work correctly in Gentoo Linux. Versions from more recent years would either not install at all or would install but not run correctly. And the 2009 version of VariCAD Viewer could not open more-recent AutoCAD files. So I had been looking for an alternative for quite a while.

Recently I found out about DraftSight, which is produced by Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. and is available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Apart from the commercial versions DraftSight Professional and DraftSight Enterprise, there is also a free version, DraftSight Free, which is billed as ‘straightforward 2D CAD software for students, hobbyists and other individuals’. I thought this would suit my purposes, as it can read and write DWG and DXF files (see the features page on the DraftSight Web site).

The Gentoo Linux betagarden overlay has ebuilds for releases of DraftSight Free. The package is a proprietary binary package, the Gentoo ebuild is named media-gfx/draftsight-bin and the current version in the betagarden overlay is 1.6.1_beta.

So I added the betagarden overlay using Layman, downloaded the file draftSight.deb (DraftSight 2015 beta) from the DraftSight Web site and copied it to /usr/portage/distfiles/draftsight-1.6.1_beta.deb as specified in the ebuild, and issued the usual emerge command to merge the package. However the ebuild would not install the package whatever I tried: Portage gave an error message that the .deb file could not be downloaded (despite it already being in the distfiles directory). In the end I copied the ebuild and its files sub-directory to /usr/local/portage/media-gfx/draftsight-bin/ in my local overlay, disconnected from the network and merged the package:

# layman -a betagarden
# rm /usr/portage/distfiles/draftsight*
# cp /home/fitzcarraldo/Downloads/draftSight.deb /usr/portage/distfiles/draftsight-1.6.1_beta.deb
# mkdir -p /usr/local/portage/media-gfx/draftsight-bin/files
# cp /var/lib/layman/betagarden/media-gfx/draftsight-bin/draftsight-bin-1.6.1_beta.ebuild /usr/local/portage/media-gfx/draftsight-bin/
# cp /var/lib/layman/betagarden/media-gfx/draftsight-bin/files/* /usr/local/portage/media-gfx/draftsight-bin/files/
# layman -d betagarden
# cd /usr/local/portage/media-gfx/draftsight-bin/
# ebuild draftsight-bin-1.6.1_beta.ebuild manifest
# emerge --ask draftsight-bin

This worked, and I can now launch DraftSight from the KDE launcher’s menu (the only additional thing I did was to specify an icon myself using the KDE Menu Editor, as the DraftSight entry in the KDE launcher menu was icon-less) or by issuing the command ‘draftsight‘ from the command line.

DraftSight is a big advance on using an old version of VariCAD Viewer, and I have finally found a decent 2D CAD application to use in Linux.

Update (March 13, 2016): A new version has been released; see my latest post Installing DraftSight 2016 Pre-Release in Gentoo Linux.