Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bye-bye Sify Broadband

I don't always believe in naming and shaming, but sometimes it is merited. Besides, it really can't hurt them in this case.

If you search the net for a good internet service provider in India, Sify will always show up near the bottom of customer opinions. Nevertheless, I stuck with them for the past 2 years for a couple of reasons.

First, at that time they were almost the only option where I live. That is no longer true.

Second, most complaints are about their last-mile service or about the intrusive software they install on windows computers. But my last-mile provider was good and their linux client was not intrusive.

That changed this week.

Date: Sat, 26 May 2007 08:16:50 +0530
From: Rahul Siddharthan
Subject: Goodbye Re: linux client installation steps

Dear Mr XXX and Mr YYY,

You have just lost a customer who has been with you for nearly 2
years. I will be moving to another provider as soon as possible
(probably Airtel or BSNL).

In case you care, the reasons are below, but I'm sure customer
satisfaction is the last thing you care about.

1. Sify has a terrible reputation generally because you force clients
to authenticate through your own flaky, broken software. Windows
users are particularly angry because your software completely
messes up their installation. (Take a look at the forums on to know how much you are

However, being a linux user, I ignored this issue. Moreover, your
software authenticates via the MAC address of the ethernet card,
which is ridiculous -- it only serves to annoy the customer, while
it can be easily spoofed.

2. I lived with the authentication mechanism because, under linux, it
was not intrusive and did not endanger my computer. But that
changed this week.

3. Yesterday, when I returned from vacation, I found that the linux
software I used no longer worked. On contacting Sify, I was told
by Mr XXX (quoted below) to download an updated Linux client. I
find that this client must be run as root, or it doesn't work.
This makes me suspicious -- there is no good reason why Sify should
need root permisssion on my client. Moreover, it is a security
hazard to run any GUI program as root and the GTK developers
specifically warn against it: see

4. The Sify client automatically launches Firefox. Needless to say,
this too is as root and is an even bigger security hazard. (Or
maybe not, since at least Firefox is open-source software whose
code is inspected by others for bugs or malicious code.)

5. Finally, the connection does not stay alive longer than 20 minutes
or so. I need to reconnect at frequent intervals.

As I said, I am abandoning Sify, and I intend also to file a complaint
with TRAI about your intrusive, hazardous and customer-unfriendly
practices. I will also be posting this on my personal website and
blog, and will also post any replies I receive from you. Please do
not reply to this mail unless you are willing to stand by your mail in
public: I will assume that a reply to this mail implicitly gives me
permission to post it publicly. I am uninterested in a pointless
discussion with you, and am uninterested in any solutions you may
offer me unless it is applicable to other Sify users on the internet.

Rahul Siddharthan

(above, XXX is some hapless customer service executive, while YYY is the contact person for Chennai. As promised, I will post any replies I receive. Meanwhile, stay away from these guys -- as I would already have done if I had been a windows user.)


Anonymous said...

Excellent job...kudos

Anonymous said...

Those bastards just wont care :( ..... i use dual OS ... loggein to Windows...hibernated and used on linux.... But the problem is all the service providers are similar with some or the other problems....

Rahul Siddharthan said...

Anon - actually, I find that BSNL doesn't require any custom software installed on the home computer. Even the password is set on the DSL modem. And in about 2 months since switching, I have had only one night's downtime; otherwise the connection is excellent -- usually not quite 2 Mbps (their advertised "up to" limit), but way faster than 256 kbps.

There is no reason why Sify can't use pppoe or some such standard protocol to authenticate, rather than inflict their proprietary software on us.

Anonymous said...


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Note: It is not a Virus....