Tag Archive for wireless

Macs and the Enterprise Network

Credit: vitroid on Flickr

Configuring Mac laptops for our new 802.1x network is proving more difficult than expected. It appears that only OS 10.6 is compatible with WPA2 Enterprise networks, and even then, they don’t always connect all of the time. At the moment, we are looking at the following:

10.6 clients: 802.1x system profile with saved user credentials

10.5 and below: WEP with pre-shared key

On startup, the process that authenticates a user via 802.1x does not always launch at the right time, leaving the user in no man’s land. The user than has to turn wireless off and on to get it to try again. If the user brings the computer from home to school and wakes it from sleep, then the process is not running and then cannot auth to 802.1x. Fortunately, once connected, the system seems able to reconnect reliably when waking from sleep. We have provided a small, custom app for users to easily reset the wireless card.

Too bad that Apple has not yet got this right. It feels so 2001 to run WEP for some of our users, especially on our brand new wireless network. Our Windows client setup has been flawless.

The difficult demise of wireless access points

Linksys

I have learned that wireless access points don’t die — they degrade. Both at school and at home, WAPs become flaky in their old age, so that the wireless network exhibits problems easy to attribute to other issues such as channel conflict. I just upgraded our wireless access point at home after weeks of “a wireless error occurred” messages from our Macs. Thankfully, the new one has made our access point happier again, even though the marketing “RangePlus” gimmick still does not allow wireless to reach all the way to the bedroom (must be a PC thing). Our new AP: Linksys WRT100. The old, which served us well for years: Netgear WGT624. I also went a step further with wireless security this time, using WPA instead of WEP, locking down admin access to wired computers only, and only allowing known MACs online. I wonder whether manufacturers are actually pushing people away from WEP, since I couldn’t quite get how to correctly configure encrypted WEP keys. If we ever have a 802.11n device in the house, this device is apparently compatible.