Author Topic: Networking advice needed  (Read 3698 times)

Offline WindAndConfusion

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Networking advice needed
« on: Monday, December 01, 2008, 01:58:15 AM »
I have a WPA2 wifi network (and a neighbor who will attempt to steal access if the encryption is removed) and a laptop that refuses to connect to any protected wifi network. I want to provide an ethernet connection for this computer, but it would be extremely difficult to install cable.

There are coaxial cable and power outlets in both rooms, but no phone lines.

I can think of two solutions: a wifi/ethernet bridge that connects to an existing protected wifi network and provides access over an ethernet port; or powerline/coaxial networking.

I can't find coaxial networking gear. A pair of powerline adapters would cost me at least $90 on Newegg, which is about twice what I want to spend. Wireless bridges are similarly un-cheap.

Does anyone have advice or experience? If I buy anything, I want it to work correctly without giving me any new problems to deal with (especially if I end up paying twice what I wanted to).

Offline scottws

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #1 on: Monday, December 01, 2008, 05:03:19 AM »
Well, I've been in the same situation.  I was planning on selling my 360 and sold off my 360 wifi adapter first.  Then I decided to keep the 360, but I didn't feel like springing for another $99 360 adapter or buying a used one of eBay.

I bought a second Linksys WRT54GL, installed Tomato firmware, and configured WDS on both routers.  Only one of them acts as an access point, router, and gateway.  The one the 360 is attached to is just a bridge.

I could have used standard wireless bridging too if you want.  Whether you choose wireless bridging or WDS, the router you buy has to support it or third party firmware that does has to be available for that model.  I believe they both have pros and cons so you'll want to look into that if you choose this method.  I know one of WDS' cons is that on the bridged side you get half the normal 54G throughput.  In my case with the 360, this doesn't matter because it doesn't access anything on my LAN and only uses the Internet, which is much slower than half of 54G anyway so the WDS bridge itself isn't a bottleneck for me.

A note about WDS:  From what I understand, it does not support WPA2, only WPA.  I haven't looked deeply into it; it could simply be a limitation of the Tomato firmware I use.  In any case, I believe that WPA+AES is highly secure as long as you use a long passphrase.

All this said, the best solution is always wired.  I haven't had any problems at all with this configuration, but if I had the time, skill, money, and patience I would run some CAT5e around.

Offline Cobra951

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #2 on: Monday, December 01, 2008, 12:03:05 PM »
I used this USB adapter while living in NY in 2006.  My PC was nowhere near the router.  It did a perfect job, but it's only WEP encryption.  There are a slew of newer, slimmer, more portable products (like this), some of which are bound to support WPA.  The thing is if portability is not an issue, the prices are the same or higher as a whole Linksys WRT54Gx router!  May as well go for that with the appropriate firmware in that case.

Offline WindAndConfusion

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #3 on: Monday, December 01, 2008, 02:42:42 PM »
USB adapters are out. I already tried them, and they didn't work.
 
I bought a second Linksys WRT54GL, installed Tomato firmware, and configured WDS on both routers. 

That sounds both more expensive and more difficult than I was hoping for. How much was the second router?

Offline Cobra951

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #4 on: Monday, December 01, 2008, 02:59:27 PM »
Less than the latest USB adapters, as I said.  I would not pay more than $50 for one.

Offline WindAndConfusion

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #5 on: Monday, December 01, 2008, 03:35:39 PM »
Because of a software problem, this laptop CANNOT directly connect to a protected wifi network. Not even through a USB adapter.

Offline WindAndConfusion

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #6 on: Monday, December 01, 2008, 04:53:46 PM »
Alright, so I guess the two-man consensus is to buy and re-flash a router.

I've read about this, but I've never done it. What are the steps involved? Does anyone have a (fairly short) guide I should read?

Offline WindAndConfusion

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #7 on: Monday, December 01, 2008, 05:15:07 PM »
Even better, does anyone know about configuring RIP on a home router? I have a spare TrendNet TEW-432BRP that I hope to configure as a bridge.

Offline scottws

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #8 on: Monday, December 01, 2008, 06:21:22 PM »
You shouldn't have to configure RIP on a home router but then again I'm not familiar with the router you are talking about.  Actually thinking about it, I've configured Cisco routers and if I remember correctly, you just enable or disable RIP. RIP is actually a really old routing protocol.  There is a much more modern one in use now.  OSPS or something like that.

As far as flashing the firmware on a SOHO router goes, it is pretty straightforward on a WRT54GL (or WRT54G v4.0 or lower).  You basically just "upgrade the firmware" through the Linksys web interface and pick the Tomato or DD-WRT or whatever firmware file instead of a Linksys one.

It's all pretty safe... No more risky than upgrading Linksys firmware.  I've even gone from Linksys to DD-WRT to Tomato and upgraded Tomato several times with no issues whatsoever.

For other routers you have to use TFTP.  I know Buffalo routers are like this.  I've never done that before but there are instructions for all the firmwares for all the routers they are compatible with.

BTW a Linksys WRT54GL is about $60 if I remember correctly.  You might find another router that supports third-party firmware cheaper.  I know DD-WRT in particular supports lots of different routers.  Tomato only supports a few last time I looked.  You also might find some SOHO routers that support wireless bridging or even WDS with the default firmware.

Offline WindAndConfusion

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #9 on: Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 12:13:20 AM »
You shouldn't have to configure RIP on a home router but then again I'm not familiar with the router you are talking about. 
You need RIP if you want to use multiple routers together on one network (like I am attempting) and you don't want to use static routes (for obvious reasons).
Quote
Actually thinking about it, I've configured Cisco routers and if I remember correctly, you just enable or disable RIP.
Alas, it's way more complicated than that. You need to choose among three versions (RIP1, RIP2B, and RIP2M), you need to deal with subnetting, and you need to make sure you don't have conflicts (eg two NAT gateways, two DHCP servers, IP address collisions...).
Quote
RIP is actually a really old routing protocol.  There is a much more modern one in use now.  OSPS or something like that.
Old as it is, RIP is the only thing most home routers seem to support.

Offline scottws

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #10 on: Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 03:59:21 PM »
The things you mentioned are not "configuring RIP."

Offline WindAndConfusion

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #11 on: Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 05:06:23 PM »
RIP won't even work correctly if you don't do the things I mentioned, so yes, they definitely are a part of "configuring RIP."

Offline scottws

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #12 on: Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 07:20:31 PM »
Um, no they aren't.  Sorry.  Maybe it's arguing semantics but "dealing with subnetting" is "subnetting" and the checking for conflicts you mentioned as nothing to do with RIP as you would want to do those things anyway, even in a single-router environment.

But if you want to live in your own little world where you call the proper configuration of an entire network "configuring RIP," then I guess you can be my guest.

Offline WindAndConfusion

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #13 on: Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 10:51:05 PM »
Scott, the fact is that I managed to get my network to function, and 90% of the work involved was to create a network topology that RIP could make sense of. Getting the routers to talk to each other was simple (as you say, all I had to do was enable RIP on both routers), but this quickly devolved into a mess of conflicts on both routers' tables, partly because I didn't have my network subnetted in a very particular way. Now if I were using WDS as you suggested, I wouldn't be facing this problem, but since RIP is a very old protocol (also as you suggested), it has a lot of limitations. I also had to spend a lot of time tweaking the DHCP settings on both routers so that I didn't assign IP addresses in a way that caused conflicts or made RIP shit its pants.

Whether you choose to call this "configuring RIP" or "configuring a RIP-compatible network" or "fucking a tunafish" is purely a semantic decision (also as you pointed out), but I seriously doubt any knowledgeable person will be confused by my choice of words.
« Last Edit: Tuesday, December 02, 2008, 11:17:28 PM by WindAndConfusion »

Offline Ghandi

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Re: Networking advice needed
« Reply #14 on: Saturday, December 06, 2008, 11:43:48 PM »
Even though I don't know anything about any of this, I side with Scott, but only out of principle. I'm sure that if I were to learn about the subject and then you happened to be right and I abandoned every moral fiber of my being, I might be able to agree with you Wind. But I'm just not there yet.