I suggest putting this someplace in pppd Readme file and changing the
default to 1500 (this shouldn't make big difference) (cc'd to pppd
Using traceroute I found out that the modem pool I am dialing in was the
cause of the trouble. It looks like it can transmit big packets OK but
cannot receive them. So ftp and all worked great, but when netscape
transmited something big it got stuck.
Interestingly the largest size traceroute was able to work with is 1474
(which means 1514 byte packets), however netscape didn't (different type
of service ??)
On Thu, 12 Nov 1998, Keith Owens wrote:
> On Wed, 11 Nov 1998 20:18:13 -0500 (EST),
> Vladimir Dergachev <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > I have a strange problem with Netscape (webbrowsers generally).
> >When I try to load a certain page (www.altavista.com as an example)
> >the browsers says connected and then doesn't load the page at all.
> >there is no traffic (this is over 33.6 modem). It looks like both the
> >server and the browser are waiting for something.
> >Lynx has this problem too. While this occurs almost always, sometimes
> >the page loads well (but slow).
> >Pages loads ok in Windows.
> >Also if I use a different ISP (commercial and not the modems at the
> >university I am at) the problems dissapears (though that ISP was slow
> >in all other regards).
> Standard symptoms of broken path MTU discovery.
> Long winded explanation on path MTU problems.
> When you start a TCP connection, the two ends of the link negotiate on
> a path Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU), basically the largest packet
> size that can be sent across the connection. Alas, somewhere between
> you and the failing site there is a box with a link MTU which is
> smaller than the path MTU. This does not cause a problem until one
> site tries to send a large packet to the other and the packet is marked
> "do not fragment".
> Although the packet is within the agreed path MTU, it is too big for
> the intermediate link and it cannot be fragmented (the DF bit is set).
> When a large packet hits the link with a smaller MTU, the link is
> supposed to send an ICMP response "Unreachable, need to fragment" back
> to the sender. The response includes the original packet header so the
> sender can see which packet failed. The sender is supposed to look at
> the ICMP response, get the size of the packet, pick a new path MTU
> which is less than the failing packet size and send the data in a new,
> smaller packet. This is called "Path MTU Discovery".
> Most of the time path MTU discovery works fine. The link starts with a
> large MTU then settles down to an MTU set by the smallest link in the
> route. When discovery fails you get partial transfers then nothing,
> all the big packets are getting lost. There are several possible
> causes of failure.
> 1) The intermediate link is not sending ICMP messages, it is just
> dropping the packets into the bit bucket. There are some of these
> old routers out there but fortunately, not too many.
> Best solution is 4,000 volts up the router backplane.
> 2) The sender is not seeing the ICMP response. Usually caused by some
> firewall being a bit too paranoid.
> The sender has to adjust their routers and/or firewall to let ICMP
> 3) The sender is seeing the ICMP response but is ignoring it. Should
> not really happen.
> Sender has to correct their TCP/IP stack to handle ICMP "need to
> 4) The link with the low MTU is corrupting the packet header it sends
> back. This problem is very common in routers based on BSD 4.2 and
> is known to affect Annex 4000's. Read RFC 1191, section 5 for the
> gory details. If the sender's TCP/IP stack is not aware of this
> common bug, it does not pick the correct MTU. Windows NT (at least
> 3.1) does not recover when faced with these routers.
> a) Replace all buggy router code on the Internet (not going to
> happen anytime soon). If the problem link is at your ISP this is
> the best solution for this bug.
> b) Upgrade the sender's TCP/IP stack to recognise the buggy routers
> and calculate the correct MTU (Microsoft, not going to happen
> anytime soon).
> The real problem with a failing path MTU discovery is that the fix has
> to come from the sender's end, not from the receiver. To get a
> permanent fix, you have to explain the problem to the sender and get
> them to diagnose and correct the problem from their end.
> In some cases, the simplest option is for the sender to disable path
> MTU discovery completely. This turns off the "do not fragment" bit in
> the packet header. When a large packet hits the low MTU link, instead
> of bouncing back to the sender, the packet is fragmented and forwarded
> in pieces. However fragments can have their own problems, this option
> does not always work.
> The only thing the receiver can do to bypass the problem is force the
> original path MTU to a lower value so the offending link never sees big
> packets. If you have the application source code, setsockopt
> TCP_MAXSEG will set the MTU for a single socket, it must be set after
> creating the socket and before connecting to the other end.
> If changing the source is not an option, you can change the path MTU
> by setting the MTU value on your network interface. For example,
> ifconfig <interface> <ip-address> MTU <number>
> The interface MTU can be changed at any time, although it can cause
> problems if you reduce the interface MTU while connections are routing
> across the interface. Best to set it at start up or when no
> connections exist.
> WARNING: Changing the interface MTU will affect *ALL* new connections,
> not just the one you are trying to fix. Low MTU's can slow
> down connections.
> Picking the MTU number is a problem, the receiver never sees the ICMP
> messages so you cannot tell what the limit is. One option is just to
> go down the list of common MTU values (see rfc 1191) until you hit a
> value that works, starting a new connection each time. Alternatively,
> if you know how to read tcpdump output, run tcpdump while you "ping -s
> <number> site", reducing <number> until you get a response which is not
> fragmented, the path MTU is then <number+28>.
> In some circumstances, you have to *increase* your MTU. This only
> occurs when your have a large MTU (say Ethernet) into a small MTU link
> on a SLIP/PPP link and your ISP's terminal server has the BSD 4.2 bug.
> Increasing your SLIP/PPP MTU to match the Ethernet MTU bypasses the
> buggy terminal server code. If you have this problem, get your ISP to
> fix their server or change ISP. AFAIK this problem can only happen
> with this configuration :-
> MTU=m1 MTU=m2 MTU=m3
> Internal -------- Gateway -------- Terminal -------- sender
> machine machine Server
> With m1 > m2, m2 < m3, clean routers from sender to terminal server and
> a buggy terminal server. The terminal server is typically an Annex of
> some kind, Annex 4000 is known to be be buggy. m1 is usually 1500
> (Ethernet), m2 is the MTU of the SLIP/PPP link.
> The initial path MTU is set to m1 because the connection is coming from
> an internal machine. The sender sends a packet with size <= m1, > m2
> and don't fragment set. This packet gets as far as the terminal server
> which tries to forward it to the gateway machine and goes wrong.
> Because the packet is > m2 and DF is set, the terminal server cannot
> fragment and forward the packet, it sends "ICMP need to fragment" to
> the sender. When the terminal server has the BSD 4.2 bug, the ICMP
> response is corrupt. Unless the sender was written to cope with this
> bug, the sender loops trying to send the same size packet. A Linux
> sender (post 1.3.54) copes with the 4.2BSD router bug, NT does not.
> If you want to overcome the problem in this configuration, m1 must be
> <= m2. Either increase m2 to be equal to m1 or reduce m1 to match m2.
> Since m1 is usually 1500, setting m2 to 1500 will fix the problem. An
> alternative is to reduce m1, however you have to do that for *all*
> internal machines that access the Internet. The real fix is to correct
> the terminal server software or change to an ISP with reliable
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