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Wi-Fi network
#9502 27/09/04 9:14 AM
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I would like to set up a wi-fi network. Has anyone done this? Any advice appreciated. smile


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Re: Wi-Fi network
#9503 27/09/04 11:40 AM
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John


I recently done this very thing at home, it's pretty straightforward. It's easiest to buy yourself a Wireless Access Point (mine was a Belkin, from ebuyer, around £40-50). The AP is simply a radio transmitter which your cable modem plugs into and broadcasts your network around the home, to be picked up either by a PCMCIA wireless LAN card (for laptop - £10-40) or a PCI WLAN card (on desktop, price about the same as PCMCIA). If you need access for wired computers and don't already own a router, get yourself (surprise! laugh ) a wireless router, slightly more pricey than an AP but not too bad. This way all your computers will be able to use the net and talk to each other. I think an AP can support around 25 wireless LAN cards at once.

Once you've got the kit, you'll need to mess with MAC addresses - every network device has one, and your broadband providor will have the MAC address of your PC LAN card registered to use your connection. If you get an AP, you'll have to tell your ISP the MAC address of the AP (usually on the box or label of the kit) or it won't work. If you get a router, it will have the ability to spoof the MAC addy of the PC LAN card, ie the router pretends to be your PC. This is straightforward and convenient, but ISP's hate it... however it's not against the rules so don't worry about it! To get yr MAC address from a window$ PC, open a command prompt window RUN->cmd and type ipconfig/all - the MAC address is called the Physical Address here, and will have the notation XX-YY-ZZ-AA-BB-CC.
Security wise, there are usually two choices - MAC address filtering and WEP encryption. From what I am led to believe, MAC filtering is a bit useless, so best use 128bit WEP encryption, your wireless gear instructions will tell you how to do this.

There are currently two standards in popular use, 802.11b and 802.11g, the difference I believe to be speed - think b is 11Mbps and g is 54 Mbps, although actual throughput is around half the stated speed, in practise b is enough for most peeps needs (given that most current broadband speeds are below 2 Mbps) and is usually a bit cheaper, but everything is going the g way at the mo.

www.ebuyer.com is pretty good for bits and deliver pretty quickly, and as with all kit, buy the best you can afford... I bought the cheapest PCMCIA card I could find and it's awful - cheaply made, rubbish manual, no UK support! Anything by Belkin, Linksys, Netgear and the like is usually good.

HTH, give me a shout if I can be of any other help.

Ron

EDIT - added MAC addy stuff

Re: Wi-Fi network
#9504 27/09/04 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by RonS:
Anything by Belkin, Linksys, Netgear and the like is usually good.
Agreed, I especially like Linksys kit - it's easy to setup, well documented and in my experience very reliable.

Funnily enough though - I bought two Netgear network cards about a year ago. One is used in a Windows PC and one is used in a Linux box.

They both stopped working within a two week period about a month ago.

Now there's a conspiracy theory waiting to happen...... boggle

Re: Wi-Fi network
#9505 27/09/04 12:51 PM
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Huw

Is it particularly hard to get networking gear running on a Linux box? I have an old AMD K6-2 450 system and a remarkably cheap network card which I think has a Linux driver. I'd like to use this as a standalone Linux machine having had several Linux false starts after destroying several Windows installs trying to get Red Hat 7.2 to dual boot - Windows does not like sharing it's space with other OS's rolleyes It would also seem that RH doesn't like ancient Celeron based laptops with a tiny amount of HD space freed up using PartitionMagic...

Also which distro is best for tinkering?

Appreciate any info, sorry for the thread hijack John! laugh

Re: Wi-Fi network
#9506 27/09/04 2:29 PM
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Thanks for the advice Ron,
WiFi seems to be the easiest way to go.
:>)


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Re: Wi-Fi network
#9507 27/09/04 3:21 PM
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Ive just set one up at home too, I have the netgear 834g which is a broadband modem router with wireless and rj45 connections which also acts as a network bridge too with built in firewall.
full installation 15mins.
I got a free pcimca card(108mbps) which steps down to 54mbps which my router, then i got an 11mbps card for my little girls laptop for £7 from ebay.

It works really well and ive even managed to use it at the local pub (round the corner).

Re: Wi-Fi network
#9508 27/09/04 4:36 PM
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Hi John

You do not say what you want the Wi-Fi network for.
Are you looking to share an Internet connection, ADSL cable or dial up?

Security is one issue you need to look at carefully, I would recommend BOTH MAC address filtering and WEP encryption.

Here is a posting I made on my ISP forum on the subject of Wi-Fi security;

Quote:
Your WEP passphrase, SSID and MAC address can be cracked just by capturing packets from your network. And passing them through one of the WEP cracker programs that are available.
Then on some cards it is possible to spoof your Mac address, so even the Mac address filtering is defeated.
But these are all good lines of defence, and improved by changing your WEP passphrase and SSID regularly. It forces the cracker to keep going though the process of cracking your network.
Also to crack the WEP passphrase requires a large number of packets, which in a home network just sharing the internet and a few files, may take hours or even days to collect.

So unless there is a stranger sat in their car just outside your house, with a laptop for hours on end, then its one of your neighbour’s. If they are technical savvy enough to crack your WLAN, they will only be doing it for the challenge. (Someone near me has set their SSID to “unbreakable” now there IS a challenge.)

There are some more steps you can take to improve security, again they will not stop the determined cracker, but they may put off the causal.

Ensure that all your file shares are password protected.

Disable DHCP, and use static IP address’s within your network and do not use 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.255 range, as everyone uses that for home networks. Try one in 10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255 or 172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255 ranges.

Have a software firewall installed on each machine, and configured that only the know IP have access, and any other IP addresses are blocked. If using ZoneAlarm. Set the know IP’s as “Trusted” and the rest as “Internet”. Also dot them around not consecutive.

This way only a few IP addresses have access to your system, and the cracker has to find which ones. I know that by sniffing packets the cracker will be able to tell IP addresses you are using, but they will avoid the IP addresses in use, as using one of these normally leads to error message being displays about IP address already in use, alerting you to the hacker.

WLAN are not 100% secure, but you can sure make it difficult, and in reality unless you are a business with secretes to protect, you will not get targeted by any thing more than the casual cracker looking for a challenge.
Chilly


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Re: Wi-Fi network
#9509 27/09/04 7:13 PM
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Hero
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Chilly,
We currently use an isdn line, but BT have recently updated our local exchange which means i can get Broadband installed.
I want set up the wi-fi at home to share access to the internet and allow the kids to do their homework without hassling me. I thought if it is not too expensive, Wi-fi may enable them access. I don't really understand everthing you've said, but i won't unless i buy the gear. I need access for 4 users anywhere in the house. Is there a complete (simple) home kit? How easy is it to install? I've been to PC world but i could really do with a shopping list. There seem to be lots of different 'bits'. I am extremely ignorant when it comes to this subject. Your help is very welcome. smile


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Re: Wi-Fi network
#9510 27/09/04 9:36 PM
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Hi John

I am sure between us we will get you sorted out. As you are sharing as ADSL connection I recommend that you look for a combined ADSL modem and wireless router. This will normal provide you with 4 hard wired ports and a built in access point.

A part from the modem/wireless router. You will require network card for each machine. Any that are within a cables run from the modem can be hard wired, and those PC’s may already have network port already, if not wired cards are far cheaper than wireless. The other PC’s will require a wireless card, normally PCI for desktop machines or PCMCIA for laptops.

802.11b or 802.11g, “b” is cheaper but slower, typical 11Mb. “g” is the newer standard and faster, up to 54Mb, but will cost a little more. (You may see some equipment rated at 22Mb or 108Mb, these work using full dupex, ie both can transmit at once, so they do not really double the transmission speed.) If I was purchasing now I would go for “g” just for future proofing.

As for recommended brands Huw’s suggestions of, Belkin, Linksys (Cisco), Netgear sound good. I have a d-link dsl-604+ router which is OK, but obsolete now. One thing I would say is try and get all the same brand, and type.

For ISP I recommend Plus.Net, but then I would as if you click on the link on my web site http://chillypenguin.plus.com/ I may get money off my connection. laugh
Be warned that BT have just increased the distance limits for ADSL connections so there is a back log, which is leading to delays with installation.

http://www.adslguide.org/ provides some good reviews of equipment and service providers.

Once you have chosen equipment, but before purchasing check out http://www.expansys.com/forumoverview.asp to see what problems current owners are having and what questions they are asking.

As for purchasing, check out http://www.pricerunner.co.uk/networking/ to find where is offering the best deals. And of course there is always www.ebay.co.uk for a bargain.

There some links to keep you going.

Chilly


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Re: Wi-Fi network
#9511 13/12/04 1:07 PM
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On a simalar point, I've been scanning as I've been out servicing, and have found many wireless networks and access points that have WEP encription set up, but the password has been the department which i was in!!!!!!, straight onto the hospital network.
Thats as bad as leaving your home router with the password of password!!!!!!!.

sort it out, pass the comment on, ask what yours is set to.

Scott

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