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Common household remedies request

[Friday: Continued horrid router problems: I've got a terminal open so I can see the wild variations in timing, the timeouts, the dropped connections, etc. None of the ritual incantations are working! I suppose it could be a hardware problem but I think it's more likely that OS Mavericks is fucked in some deeply inscrutable fashion. Oh well. #firstworldproblem. --lambert]

Wireless router recommendations? I need a wireless router that will punch through the walls of This Really Old and Humogous House, and that will work for several people, all of whom have the full complement of devices.

What I don't need is a fucking router that craps out all the time, which my (two-yea old) Netgear WNDRMAC keeps doing. I'm like to lose a tooth from the grinding.

So, any suggestions? Spending anything over $100 would be painful, but if that's what I have to do, then so be it. I have a DSL connection. Readers?

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Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

I was the first on my block with a wireless network many years ago. I shared my connection with Comcast with anyone who connected for a brief time before issues appeared which were hard to sort out that way. So encryption and password. Then video and audio streaming became popular while Comcast installed a choke on upload and download limiting the speed to about 10mbs. At that point I pulled the plug on my network as a hood resource and all users were trimmed outside my own house. The choke Comcast uses is in the modem firmware. I had an old modem which was getting 26mbs and thought I should try the newest version. That arrived with the choke firmware and I could not revert back once it was installed.
I have had good luck with the Apple Airport Extreme base stations especially G and N versions. I always used a Linksys wired router to organize the network and the wireless as a bridge until the N version came out with extra wired ports.
Today I don't know what to recommend post Snowden and Comcast. Hardware is not the issue but compromised hardware certainly is. Sorry I'm not much help.

Submitted by lambert on

Well, as far as compromised hardware... I don't own a chip foundry, right? Even if I built the computer myself...

I remember when I was unemployed in Philly in the Bush II recession, and wifi was new, joining a WiFi meetup; you could go along the street and get a connection! Since my phone had been disconnected and I had no Internet, getting an Internet connection was an urgent concern...

Submitted by lambert on

... it was considered a virtue to leave your network open for others so share and interestingly even today that was our first impluse; Graeber's communism in everyday life, if that's the right phrase (and I'm not sure it is).

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

I have a half dozen of these and they have worked flawlessly in extreme conditions for years. My tech guys have dozens of these and swear by them. Plus, since they are (can be) OpenWRT they are highly configurable with Linux and Luci if you prefer the web interface. Make sure to get this exact model. It has two radios (dual-band), high bandwidth (2.4ghz) and higher bandwidth (5ghz), therefore, no waiting. :-D

http://www.amazon.com/Netgear-WNDR3800-Premium-Edition-Wireless/dp/B0058...

Buy a refurbished one for $60 and upgrade the firmware to the "attitude adjustment" OpenWRT firmware. The "barrier breaker" development build of OpenWRT if you are feeling more daring apparently is just fine stability-wise and has even better radio performance, but the radios are already really good in this device.
http://wiki.openwrt.org/about/latest

Submitted by lambert on

Looking forward to configuring it. I may just grab a band for myself if that's possible, then let the tenants fight amongst themselves for the other.

Adding... It's going to be a bit of a pleasure to become nerdy about my router configuration with "Attitude Adjustment." I hope there aren't "OS X" issues with the install, though I can fire up the ol' Windows box.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks, okanogen. The last time I dealt with the mystic runes of a WiFi connection was when I had a linux laptop, back in Philly, in around the year 2003. It was horrible. However, if there's a decent interface, as you say, I should be able to dope out what to do. And at $60, the price is right!!

Is the interface from the shell or the web? I don't have a linux box right now, although OS X is unix under the hood.

Adding... Since OS X gives me a unix shell, do you know a way for me to test if there's a hardware issue on my machine? I've always felt it's a software issue, since I have all the symptoms of a router in a cafe, where many devices come and go, which is like my house, but maybe I'm wrong1

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

There is a web shell called "Luci" that is very understandable and straight forward. Also Very powerful, as you would expect! All you really would need it for is changing the password because no arcana, everything works out ta the box.

Or you could putty in and get all command liney if you want!

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

If you already have a PC you're not using and it has a wifi card, you might want to try IPFire. It's free, of course. It is supposed to run on anything i586 or better, but my experience has been a Pentium won't do. You will need at least a Pentium Pro (just about any PC sold in the last ten years qualifies).

Of course, if you don't have a PC to spare it's no use, although there's a Raspberry Pi version...

Barmitt O'Bamney's picture
Submitted by Barmitt O'Bamney on

my solution to this problem would be A) Dedicated wifi Access Point device, centrally located in house (or wherever can provide coverage to desired rooms). B) Dedicated ethernet switch. C) Older PC with 2 ethernet cards, installed w Linux (or *BSD if you are a Linux hater) running firewall to enable routing functions, DCHPD to serve out ip addresses to wired/wireless local network, sshd to admin the firewall/router, and whatever gets you thru the night.

Keeping functions separated into discrete devices helps with reliability and with isolating the cause of trouble when troubles occur I would keep the router PC close to the cable modem, and place the Access Point wherever it can provide coverage best. The ethernet switch can go wherever in between, down in a basement maybe, or a 1st floor hall closet if ac power exists there, or at the same point as the cable modem and PC, or with the wifi AP. Wherever bringing ethernet drops together is least painful.

If a box is sold as a dedicated switch it stands a good chance of being a reliable switch since that is its only function. If it stinks as a switch, its problems will not be a mystery, and it will soon acquire a must-avoid reputation. Same goes for wireless equipment. Yes many people have had excellent results with all-in-wunners with routing, fw, wifi and ethernet in the one little box. Separate, dedicated components are your best bet for optimal result, expand-ability for future needs, network stability/robustness and security. No dinky wifi router will match the dedicated PC for stability and promptness of security updates. (There are millions of ethernet and wifi routers out there that can be easily hacked by low-skill script-kiddiez because their manufactuerrs issued one or two firmware updates, and then abandoned that model forever. ) If your personal PC is connected to the local network by ethernet, you will always have access to both the wifi AP and the router box, in case wireless clients on the network are having a problem. You may even be able to resolve their problems from Thailand. Just for example, with the wifi AP connected to an X-10 power module, you could ssh into your home router system from the other side of the planet and power cycle the wireless access point, if the wifi network needed a hard reset.

I would research individual pieces on Newegg.com, paying attention to the customer reviews.

That's my home remedy, anyway. And like most home remedies, I'm sure it will seem ridiculous to lots of folks who have their own.

Submitted by lambert on

But on ground of cost and a command line, what Okanagen recommended sounds pretty good to me.

However, when I am more prosperous, or need coverage over a bigger range, I might come back to this. Yes?

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

I'm not going to dare anyone to hack our systems, but we use that device as a firewall and WiFi access point and 4 port gigabit switch and it is excellent and reliable. It draws a fraction of the power of three devices and using OpenWRT Linux it has very regular updates to the software. I use one at home, one in each of my rigs, one in my shop and one in my office in front of my (very good) HP Procurve managed switch and three DL360 G5 VMware boxes, including an OwnCloud, SIP phone system, you name it. In my view, having just one firewall/AP to worry about reduces confusion. Don't work? Connections blocked? Just one box is at fault. The reason you are seing more all-in-one boxes is that the server pricing now is based mainly on amp draw, rather than rack space. The beauty is there is more than one way to skin a cat.

Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

Anyone here used Mac address spoofing to keep an address with Comcast using a router? There is a thread online called "router versus Comcast" which helped me keep an address my network could use. I can't get DSL so stuck with Comcast. Comcast does not like routers! The best defense I found was to provide all authorized users with a browser link which made it possible to "renew address." That saved everyone a lot of trouble.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

If you want a permanent IP address, you need to pay Comcast extra for a business connection with a fixed IP address. That is really the only way. As long as you are connected you can make it so you don't get your IP changed, but If your power or cable or hardware ever goes down you will get a different address. All depends how stable your system is.