Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wireless Networking Setup

Warning this is a geeky entry, so I can remember what I just did. Just skip if you don't ever do wireless networking.

Semi-Advanced Home Wireless Networking

At home we have a basic wired network and it's been bugging me that I haven't taken the time to learn wireless thoroughly. I did borrow a wireless router from a friend and just did a basic setup, but I've since gotten a wireless router from Freecycle of all places, and ordered a wireless network adapter from Amazon, and borrowed a laptop from work.

The atypical thing that I wanted to do was to have the wireless router connected to the main router instead of directly connected to the internet. The Linksys router I have I know well and am happy with its configuration. This one, while a good name is one that I just wanted to serve the wireless network and not have to worry about whether it was leaking information I didn't want it to onto the internet.

Router |

-- wired network with static IP addresses
(For the wireless router - use the "Internet" connection)
.. wireless DHCP network

(For the wireless router to the Laptop use wireless network)
(The LAN side of the wireless router is not used except temporarily.)

This all had to be done as an advanced setup.
The first mistake I made was to not give the "..." network a different set of IP numbers. Basically each "side" of a router needs a different network numbers.

Wireless setup is something of a chicken/egg problem as the defaults of the router do not play well with this sort of architecture.

First you have to connect it to a wired network to do the initial setup.
Hassle #1 was that this router and my current router both use the same default IP address, so I had to have a computer off the network connect to the wireless router to give it a different IP address.

- Plug in and turn on the router
- Set the laptop to use DHCP (Assign me an IP address)
- Connect the laptop to the router via the LAN ethernet connection (this is temporary until we can change some settings away from the defaults that don't allow us to use other ways to connect to it.)
- On the laptop, start a browser and type and with any luck the router interface will appear
- Give it the default name and password (you will change this later). the URL may change to some special routerlogin URL, but you don't have to remember it. (They do this to make it look easier, but I find it just makes it harder).
- If things don't work at this point you may need to reset the router to its default settings (especially if you got it used like I did. There's usually a recessed button that you have to hold down for a few seconds for that to happen.

Things to change
- Change the IP address network numbers of the router's Internet connection to match the wired network's. This is confusing as the inetnet side of the wireless router is really just the regular internal network. Make sure you tell it the gateway is the other router's internal IP.
- Turn on remote administration and restrict it to the wired network's IP. (This one runs on port 8080 but that's usually changable.)
- Change the administrator password

Wireless Settings
- Change the SSID to something different than the default
- I do leave SSID broadcast on initially for set up but if you like you can eventually turn it off but only after you're completely done.
- Important! Turn on encryption - at least WEP. (Yes WEP is breakable, but generally you just want to be a less tempting target than your neighbor.)
- Important! Use a long, non-obvious pass phrase. The longer it is (think a sentence with spaces) the better. For example since I named my network after my dog who thinks he's an under-employed watchdog, passphrases that I considered were "to protect and serve" and then I thought better of it and nearly chose "to overprotect and serve" (I eventually chose something else entirely.)
- Set up the wireless router's internal IP and its DHCP to be different than the wired networks. E.g. if the wired network uses 10.0.0.x then use 10.0.1.x or 10.1.1,x, and restrict the number of IPs to be served to just a few.
- Consider turning on logging

Logout of the router setup.

(There may be something else I'm forgetting here.)

First test the remote administration from the wired network.
- Move the ethernet connection to being between the Internet side of the wireless router and the LAN side of the regular router.
- Power cycle the router
- On the wired network see if you can reach the router by typing in a browser window http://wire.less.ip.address:8080
- If it doesn't work you'll have to backtrack by plugging in the laptop to the LAN side of the wireless router (disconnecting the wireless router from the main router)

- Connect the wireless network adaptor (disconnect any ethernet cable)
- Install any driver software that it came with
- Restart or power cycle the laptop
- Open the wireless utility program that the adaptor came with
- You should see your SSID listed (among others possibly)
- Tell it to connect and tell it that it's an encrypted connection and give it the pass phrase.
- With any luck it will connect.

- Check if the network settings of the laptop are still set to DHCP and see if the assigned IP address is in the range that you configured the wireless router to serve.

- If the network IP seems correct, then start up a browser and see if you can get to the internet. Make sure the browser doesn't have any proxy settings in place. It should be set to direct connection to the internet. If you're using proxies you likely don't need to be reading this anyway as you probably already know what you're doing.

If you can connect to the internet you're done. You might have a friend wander by with a different wireless laptop to see if he or she can connect. Hopefully they won't be able to.

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