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WLAN Newbie needs help [solved]

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Something worth bearing in mind. My wireless units now no longer get firmware updates. Solved this though with DD-WRT :)

 

Everytime I buy something now, will look for support from DD-WRT because I have so much more functionality. The Netgear WG602v3 now has much more functionality than it ever had. So does the ASUS WL-330GE. And it's Linux :)

 

And don't worry about WPA. TKIP is encrypted 128 bit. WPA2 with AES is CCMA, but still 128bit encrypted and not 256bit like everyone thinks because it's AES. WPA2 is better, it's now the standard, and to get a WIFI logo on a device now requires support for this. WPA with TKIP is effectively being dropped for WPA2. Devices still have support for older hardware so that they can connect.

 

With WPA, when someone is attempting to hack, it's not so simple. Was reading on this yesterday. Yes there is a shared password, but it's not like WEP. If someone attempts to hack into it, the router provides it's own mechanisms and generates a new key. The router will also generate a new key at a determined period as well. Mine are now doing it every 3600 seconds. But if an attack is detected, it will generate a new key. The password is used as part of this process to generate a new key. The difference is with WEP the password is sent in cleartext before the encryption is then made. With WPA, everything is already encrypted so nothing is sent cleartext. So even though a shared password, someone is unlikely to be able to brute-force because of the way WPA works be regenerating new keys when an attack is detected.

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Looks like I've got some reading to do about TKIP and WPA2 and the other acronyms. My gut tells me that whatever trickery is behind it, with clever keys being generated, it's still just a pass(word|phrase) at the end. So if someone knows or guesses the password, they can generate their own key and they're in. Sure you can't sniff it but still. That's why I thought it might be a good idea to generate a random alphanumeric string for a passphrase so that it's trickier to guess than a string of English-language words separated by spaces.

 

But anyway. I haven't even got that far because despite some diligent searching before purchasing my USB thingy, and despite being convinced that all I'd have to do is plug it in and install the right packages, it turns out I believed the wrong person and the hardware is too new. So I've got to faff around to get hold of a newer kernel.

 

Rats.

 

Note I'm not asking for advice on this particular part of the problem, I'm just venting. Stupid monolithic kernel where you can't just add the appropriate widget for the peripheral hardware :angry:

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My WPA/WPA2 password is kind of random alphanumeric, but I'm not going to post it here, or even tell you where I am :)

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I haven't read in any of the replies whether you have wireless activated on your router or not. If it is activated and not set up with any encryption then your system is already wide open for intrusion. As far as passwords/passhrases go unless you have a dictionary type word then it is very difficult to guess. Even with a super massive list of words a computer would take an enormous amount of time to work it out. So long that only the most determined would attempt the task. The main point about wpa encryption is the the password which can be quite long and a very mixed one containing all printable characters not just alphanumeric ones.

I think the best option for you would be powerline plugs, The kernel issue does not come into question, it is just like using Ethernet. The only caveat I can see is the possibility of your upstairs and downstairs wiring being on different circuits. This would mean they would have to have their own meter etc. These powerline plugs have their own encryption built in which is usually optionally activated, meaning they are secure as secure can be. :)

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Thanks guys.

Yes I was careful to activate the security settings before switching on the wifi bit of the router.

The wifi is now working, but I'm a bit disappointed with the signal strength (it says 50%) and the much reduced speed (less than half of what I got plugged in by wire to the router). I've tried playing a little with the positions of the USB thingy and the router but it doesn't seem to make any difference. Ah well.

 

About the powerline stuff, yes I still agree it would have been an option but as I said earlier all I need to test out wifi is a cheap USB thingy, and to test out the powerline stuff (also with no guaranteed results) I'd have to shell out significantly more for the pair of powerline boxes.

 

I guess you can call this one solved.

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Well, wireless will be slower than cable, this is normal. Wireless G speed is 54Mbps, Wireless N speed is faster and up to 150Mbps. Standard Fast Ethernet would be 100Mbps and Gigabit Ethernet 1000Mbps. I'm guessing you have a Wireless G (54Mbps) as you mentioned speed is by half.

 

Generally for internet this will be fine, but anything intensive between computers locally will be slower than compared to using an ethernet cable.

 

Your signal will be dependent on distance from the wireless router, type of walls in between. Windows generally have a metallic layering on them, but the signal will be better going through this than a wall normally. When I'm in my office, I have wireless connectivity of about 50% or slightly higher to the lounge which is the next room via the corridor. Between two houses of 25 metres apart I've got a signal strength of between 42% and 48% but the link is fine as it's just for internet and my telephone (VOIP).

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I'm guessing you have a Wireless G (54Mbps) as you mentioned speed is by half.
I don't think so. My internet service says it should be 20 Mbps, and this is what I confirmed with speedtest.net when I was plugged into the router. The router should be capable of wireless N (Netgear N300 which promises "802.11 b/g/n" and "up to 300 Mbps"), and so should the receiver (TP-Link WN821N which also says "Wireless N" and "300 Mbps"). Yet when I run the same test now from the new room I only get between 5 and 10 Mbps.

 

I can see tha the signal strength meter says only around 40-50%, but I can't see a way to check whether it's using b or g or n, or any way to diagnose the speed issue.

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Your internet speed and wireless speed are separate issues.

 

Something is wrong somewhere with the wireless if it's not getting any more than 5 or 10Mbps. Are you sure that the wireless cards are capable of Wireless N? Not all are. You may wish to try different wireless configurations, B, G or N and see which performs better. If you wireless cards are not N, then there's no point having N enabled on the router, because it will interfere with the Wireless G cards working at their optimum performance. Therefore you might wish to change the wireless config on the router to just B/G with no N support.

 

I've got 40-50% wireless signal and getting perhaps 35Mbps. 54Mbps would be at 100% or almost 100%. That's on Wireless G. Either that, or you've got some big interference going on there.

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Your internet speed and wireless speed are separate issues.
Not for me they're not! :D

Maybe it varies depending on time of day etc but right now it looks like the only difference is that I'm now going through wireless whereas before I was plugged into the router with a wire.

 

Are you sure that the wireless cards are capable of Wireless N? Not all are.
I'm not using wireless cards, I'm using a USB thingy as described above (from TP-Link)

 

I'll see what I can find in the router config.

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Yes but the TP-LINK USB thing is wireless adapter right? So it's the same principal as it's wireless :)

 

Incidently, just noticed today my wireless connection between the houses was 5.5MB and upped the TX power from 17mW to 34mW, and now I've got 54Mbps between the houses. Not all firmwares have the ability to let you do this, I could do it because of DD-WRT which I installed on my devices. My Netgear has 71mW but I did it on the ASUS which was at 17mW, but you cannot increase the TX power too much as it will increase the noise, which will also affect the performance. Which was why I left the Netgear as it was.

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