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Chapter 6. Client Software > Figuring Out Why the Browser Is Hanging

6.6. Figuring Out Why the Browser Is Hanging

Is your modem still on and connected to your computer?

If you have an external modem, diagnosing problems is easier. At the least, a power light should be lit to indicate that the modem is on. If the modem is definitely on, try manually sending something to the modem to prove it is connected to your computer. On Linux you can do this:

% echo AT > /dev/modem

From a DOS shell on a Windows machine you can do this:

> echo AT > COM1

If your modem is connected, you will see the send and read lights flash. If the lights do not flash, either the modem is not connected, or you have configured it for the wrong COM port, PCMCIA slot, or other attachment point.

Are you still online, transmitting and receiving?

Your modem should also have a light labelled CD (Carrier Detect) to indicate if there is a carrier signal, that is, whether you are online. If it is not lit, it may be that the remote end hung up on you, or you lost your connection through too much noise on the line.

If you have carrier detect and can manually get your modem to respond but your browser cannot, then the browser is not communicating correctly with your operating system, implying a TCP/IP stack problem or a PPP problem.

Open another window and make another request. If you have an external modem, look at the modem lights. The read and send lights should be flashing. The send light will tell you that your modem is trying to send data out to the Internet. The read light will tell you if your modem is getting anything back from the network. If you cannot see these lights flashing, there is no data flowing through the modem.

Can you do anything at all?

Browsers have been known to hang. On the other hand, your browser may just be thinking some deep thoughts at the moment. Give it a minute, especially if you just requested a page. The system call to resolve DNS names often hangs the browser for a minute if the DNS server is slow. If you give it a minute and it's still stuck, kill the browser and try again.

Can you still resolve names?

Maybe your DNS server is down. Try a known IP address in the browser. In case you don't keep the IP addresses of web servers around, here are a few: (www.whitehouse.gov); (www.sun.com); and (www.yahoo.com). Make a request with a URL like this: If that works but http://www.whitehouse.gov/ does not, your problem is DNS resolution.

If you're on a Unix system, try nslookup or dig on any domain name. You'll know immediately whether you can still resolve names.

Is the remote web server still up and available?

Try to ping the server you're interested in. If ping replies, then the web server is definitely alive. Telnet to it on port 80. From a Unix command line, to check on the White House web server, you would type this: telnet www.whitehouse.gov 80. If telnet connects, the web server is up and accepting connections on port 80. If you can't ping or telnet, try a traceroute to the server to see how far you can get. The traceroute program comes packaged with most versions of Unix, but there is also a commercial NT version called Net.Medic from VitalSigns software. If traceroute stops within your ISP, it could be that your Internet provider is down. Sometimes your whole region may be down because of a NAP or Internet backbone issue.

Did you already get most of the page?

Maybe everything is working fine, but you are stuck waiting for that last GIF. Hit the Stop button and see if the page renders.



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