Friday 23 March 2007

More routers = more power

As per my earlier posts, my existing wireless router has been having problems. After "playing" with the transmit power settings using DDWRT, I managed to blow my wireless. Connectivity was intermittent no matter what I did, with or without encryption running on top. In summmary, the wireless was dead.

So then came the question of replacing the router. Well, since Linksys, in their grace and wisdom, has been selling the same router (the WRT54G) for at least the two years I've had this one but stripping down the hardware to be cheaper and crappier every year, my options were to either find another router to replace the current one that would be beefy enough for my needs, or else by the cheapest wireless AP possible and run it on the LAN in addition to my current router.

After some hemming and hawing, I decided to go with the cheapest and easiest option. So I bought one of the "new and improved" Linksys WRT54Gs. Well it turns out that since Linksys has been able to cut costs, they've decided to pass those savings directly to the shareholders. I paid the same f&^$%ing price for the stripped down version of my old router. But, at the cost of 70$ plus a sore ass, I now have a working wireless router.

So since I just wanted an additional WLAN to the existing LAN, the setup was actually really easy and is working really well. On my existing router, I configured a static router pointing to the new router. I setup the new router with a static external IP addres, setup the internall network on a new subnet, and changed it from "gateway" mode to "router" mode which disables the NAT. So now I have to networks at home, for the wired LAN and external gateway, and for the WLAN. Worked like a charm!

The last issue was, of course, wireless security. I have to say that the WiFi group and people implementing WiFi stuff still need to uncork their collective asses. On the router, I've got the option of WEP, WPA, and WPA2. For WPA, there's "personal" and "enterprise". Now, given this is a router setup, the terms "personal" and "enterprise" tell me nothing either technically (when they should be saying "pre-shared key" or "RADIUS/802.1x" instead) or as a non-technical user. Nevertheless, this was a moot point because on the client side, after fight with Ubuntu, I couldn't get it to connect to the WLAN with WPA encryption (pre-shared key) and I just didn't have the energy to trouble-shoot. So I ended up going with WEP (the "wireless sortof-encryption protocol") which was, if not secure, at least feasible to setup. Sadly, I think most of the local WLANs are encrypted (either WEP or WPA) so we're no more and no less a target. Ugh, stupid WEP.

On the other hand, since all the systems on our LAN/WLAN are firewalled and updated and basically good for taking care of themselves, I may yet go back to running wide-open. The only people likely to piggy-back are our neighbours and they're a pretty harmless lot.

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