Thanks to Michael Wozniak < firstname.lastname@example.org> for figuring this out and Dan Flemming < email@example.com> for the Mac solution:
This is due to what is called a ``Black Hole'' router. MacOS and Windows 98 (and maybe other Microsoft OSs) send TCP packets with a requested segment size too big to fit into a PPPoE frame (MTU is 1500 by default for Ethernet) and have the ``do not fragment'' bit set (default of TCP) and the Telco router is not sending ICMP ``must fragment'' back to the www site you are trying to load. (Alternatively, the router is sending the ICMP packet correctly, but the firewall at the www site is dropping it.) When the www server is sending you frames that do not fit into the PPPoE pipe the Telco router drops them on the floor and your page does not load (some pages/graphics do as they are smaller than a MSS.) This seems to be the default of most Telco PPPoE configurations (if only they knew how to program a router... sigh...)
One fix is to use regedit on your 95/98 boxes to add the following registry entry...
It should be a string with a value ``1436'', as some ADSL routers are reported to be unable to deal with packets larger than this. This registry key has been changed to Tcpip\Parameters\Interfaces\ID for adapter\MTU in Windows 2000 and becomes a DWORD.
Refer to the Microsoft Knowledge Base documents Q158474 - Windows TCPIP Registry Entries and Q120642 - TCPIP & NBT Configuration Parameters for Windows NT for more information on changing Windows MTU to work with a NAT router.
Another regedit possibility under Windows 2000 is to set the Tcpip\Parameters\Interfaces\ID for adapter\EnablePMTUBHDetect DWORD to 1 as mentioned in the Microsoft document 120642 mentioned above.
Unfortunately, MacOS does not provide an interface for changing TCP/IP settings. However, there is commercial software available, such as OTAdvancedTuner (OT for OpenTransport, the MacOS TCP/IP stack) by Sustainable Softworks, that will allow users to customize TCP/IP settings. MacOS NAT users should select ip_interface_MTU from the drop-down menu, enter 1450 instead of 1500 in the box, click the box next to Save as Auto Configure, and click Make Active.
The latest version of ppp(8) (2.3 or greater) has an enable tcpmssfixup command that will automatically adjust the MSS to an appropriate value. This facility is enabled by default. If you are stuck with an older version of ppp(8), you may want to look at the tcpmssd port.