As I've previously blogged, I have the $83 linux machine in the garage and connected to the internet via a linksys wireless bridge. It used to run Ubuntu 7.10, but the time came to upgrade it to Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) with long term support (LTS).
This can be done over the internet via the package upgrade tool and takes a couple of hours over an adsl connection. So yesterday afternoon I went into the garage, started up the machine and began the upgrade process, and as it was getting dark and cold, closed the garage door with the remote and went and did something more useful - folding laundry in this case. Went back in an hour to see how it was going and found the connection had died. Restarted the upgrade closed the door, but this time went into the study and happened to notice that after a few minutes the lights on the adsl router - a telstra supplied 2wire adsl gateway - were cycling. Well initially I blamed telstra given that it was around five on a cold Canberra winter's evening and it could be that the contention rate at the exchange was too high and everybody was trying to use the internet.
Anyway went back and did the restart thing again and this time closed the garage door with the remote from the study and guess what - the light started cycling around 60 seconds later. Waited for the connection to come back, repeated the experiment, and hey presto, killed the connection again.
Well we were going to the theatre, so I closed everything down, took a shower etc.
This morning, I did the converse on an equally cold Canberra morning - opened the garage door, powered up the wireless bridge, let the connection stabilise, booted the $83 wonder, and ran the upgrade procedure but left the garage door open this time.
Despite the cat's attempts to help, the upgrade procedure ran flawlessly and two hours later I'd booted into Ubuntu 8.04 and had a fully patched and working machine.
So I can only guess that the remote control for the garage is knocking out either the gateway or the wireless bridge by causing a load of junk packets.
What's worrying of course is that maybe it's not just my own connection but some of the neighbouring ones as well ...