Saturday, August 06, 2005

Using WDS to and OS X connection sharing to post this from my PC

We've moved -- across the alley. So we keep our neighbors and friends, but I've lost my broadband connection -- for at least four days. Qwest can move our phone line instantly (same number), but DSL takes time -- even though our new home had Qwest DSL until 10 days ago.

Fortunately two neighbors have wireless I can leach from momentarily. I couldn't get Jim's to work, but Peter's window is about 70 yards away -- unobstructed site line.

Peter put his Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS) in his window and I put mine in the facing window. Then the fun began. It took some time and some false starts, but I got WDS to work. Part of the problem was I did my configuration purely wirelessly, flipping between my wireless LAN and Peter's. I think Apple's WDS configuration works much better if one is physically connected to the main (host) base station. Doing it wirelessly is like changing wheels on a moving unicycle. It did work though.

This article does provide some useful information: AirPort Extreme and Express: Using WDS to create a network from multiple base stations.

A few notes:

1. Peter was using WPA2 Personal encryption. I used to use very insecure WEP (legacy reasons) but I switched my network encryption to match his (I think this may be necessary for the merger to work). Both AEBS had been flashed to the latest release and all machines were using latest AirPort software.

2. I set my AEBS to "neutral" -- dispense IP addresses, etc.

3. I then took control of Peter's AEBS and followed the WDS directions. I added my AEBS as a client. At first I was asked for the network password, then for the base station (administrative) password. This took a few tries and wasn't at all very smooth. I think I should have been wired into Peter's AEBS to do this. The automatic configuration did work though.

4. When it was done my old network was nowhere to be seen, but now I could join Peter's network directly. (I think part of the problem happens because I was wirelessly on Peter's network, but after my AEBS joined his I had to hop to mine.)

5. I could then use my iMac at the other end of the house -- in the new office. I turned on internet connection sharing and connected the internal ethernet to my switch. My PC then got it's IP address from the iMac.

So, in conclusion, my PC is connecting to the iMac via wired ethernet, then the iMac is acting as a bridge via 802.11g to my AEBS, which is now a mobile base station communicating to Peter's AEBS which has a wired connection to Peter's DSL modem.

And to think only a few years ago I was using Telnet after hours to dial-up to remote BBSs out east ...

Update 8/14/05

Qwest is, of course, beind on my DSL services so I'm still using this kludgy connection. I've learned a few things about Tiger's Internet Connection sharing:
  1. The PC gets a address. Oddly enough the iMac's ethernet IP address is quite odd, neither a 10.x or 192.x address but rather 169.x. So the client PC and host Mac are on very different 'networks'. The Mac can't see any shares on the PC, but the PC can see Mac shares. (If I turn off connection sharing and set my PC's IP to match the ethernet IP of the iMac then the network does fine.
  2. Retrospect can't find its clients because they're basically in a different network.
Update 8/15/05

I'm making a bit more progress. Now even when I enable Tiger's Internet Connection sharing my PC can be seen by my iMac (the two are connected by wired ethernet) and Retrospect/Windows can "see" the Retrospect client on the Tiger machine. Here's the trick:
  1. I noticed when Internet Connection Sharing was enabled, and the PC was set up to use DHCP, it got a 192.168.2.x address (commonly used legal range for internal networks). So I set the PC to manually use as its address and configured the DNS servers to my ISP's servers.
  2. I then set the ethernet IP address on the iMac manually to be So it was on the same network.
  3. Retrospect/Windows still couldn't see the iMac client, so I turned off Retrospect Client on the iMac, then turned off the AirPort, then turned Retrospect Client on again. I was then able to find it from the PC. I then reenabled AirPort on the iMac and was again able to see Retrospect client. (I knew to try this because I've noticed before that Retrospect Client gets "stuck" on the AirPort irregardless of my OS X network port preference configuration; even when there's a physical link Retrospect ignores it. I have to disable the AirPort to get it to use the wired link. I don't know if this is an OS X or Retrospect bug, but Retrospect is, in general, the crummiest piece of non-Microsoft software I've ever used.
PS. Qwest is even further behind on getting my DSL configured.

Update 8/16

I've just discovered that I can't set the AirPort to WPA2 only -- that isn't an option for G3 iBooks. Probably note enough horsepower. Makes me wonder how much of a battery drain WPA is. I've noticed my iBook losing power pretty quickly. I'm going to monitor xBattery with the AirPort on and off ...

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