When you have your Wi-Fi access point connected to your cable or DSL modem, plugged in, and turned on (as explained in "Plugging in the Hardware"), the next steps are to configure your access point and the computers in your network (sometimes not necessarily in that order).
Of course, you should follow the directions provided by the manufacturer of your access point device. In this chapter, I'll show you some good illustrative examples of how to get up and running with a Wi-Fi access point. I'll use as demonstration cases Linksys Wireless-Broadband Router, a D-Link AirPlus Xtreme G, and an Airport Extreme Base Station (all described in Chapter 12).
Linksys Wireless-Broadband Router
Most modern access points and routers are administered with a browser-based interface. The network address of the router varies a bit by router manufacturer. Addresses such as 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 (as with the Linksys unit) are typical. Check your documentation to be sure in the case of your particular unit.
If you have an older Wi-Fi access point without the capabilities of adding a wire-line computer directly to the unit, you'll need to administer the unit via its wireless connection (follow the manufacturer's directions).
With your Internet settings collected as explained in "Collect Your Settings," your devices connected as explained in "Plugging in the Hardware," and your Linksys Wireless-Broadband Router turned on, you are ready to configure it.
With a computer connected to the Ethernet port of the Linksys Wireless-Broadband unit, open a Web browser. In the Web browser, enter the address http://192.168.1.1/. The username and password box shown in Figure 13.9 will open.
Figure 13.9. When you enter the URL for the access point/router in a browser, you will be prompted for the administrator's username and password.
Leave the username blank and enter admin for the password, and click OK. The primary administration screen for the access point/router will open, shown in Figure 13.10.
Figure 13.10. If you use dynamic IP addressing, your Wi-Fi network will work if you accept the default settings, but you should make a few changes for the sake of security.
Have a look at the screen shown in Figure 13.10 and the information you collected about your Internet settings. If your Internet settings use automatic IP addressing, you can probably leave the default settings as they stand and have your Wi-Fi network up and running (although I do suggest that you make a few changes for the sake of security, as I'll explain in a second).
If you use a static IP, you need to select this from the drop-down list shown at the bottom of Figure 13.10. Next, you'll need to use the data you collected to enter the IP and DNS server address information you collected in the fields that will now appear.
As I said, assuming that you use automatic IP addressing, which is most likely, you should make a few changes just to make your network more secure.
First, make sure that Wireless is set to Enable. If the Disable button is selected instead, your wireless network will not work.
Next, you should change the SSID (or network name) to something other than the default. In Figure 13.10, you can see that I changed the default name for the network (which is linksys) to something I made up, namely tarzan.
You might want to disable SSID broadcast. (The default is to enable this feature.) If SSID broadcast is enabled, the scanning feature available in most Wi-Fi cards will let them see your network name. So running disabled is a security measure because you are in stealth mode. For my own part, I tend to enable SSID broadcast because I find it useful to be able to see the SSIDs that are broadcasting when I connect a computer to one of our networks.
WPA-PSK is an encryption setting that is somewhat more secure than WEP and easy to use on a home network. See Chapter 15 for more information about securing your wireless network with WPA-PSK.
However you set SSID broadcast, you should certainly turn on encryption. WEP (wired equivalent privacy) protects your Wi-Fi network with a very basic level of encryption. Most equipment comes from the manufacturer with security disabled. This is done to make initial setup easier (unfortunately, it is also why there are so many unprotected access points in the world today). Make a mental note to security-enable your access point after you get it up and running.
To enable WEP, select the Mandatory option next to the WEP Setting, and click the WEP Key Setting button. The WEP Key Setting window will open, shown in Figure 13.11.
Figure 13.11. Your Wi-Fi network is more secure if you use a WEP key.
In the WEP Key Setting window, enter a pass phrase. (In Figure 13.11, I entered the phrase mejane.) Next, click Generate. The four default hexadecimal keys will be generated, as shown in Figure 13.11.
Next, click Apply to accept the key and close the WEP Key Setting window. Back in the main setup window for the access point/router, click Apply to accept the changes you've made to the settings.
After the Linksys unit has been configured, you should check to make sure that you still have connectivity on the wired portion of your network by making sure that you can surf the Internet.
With most Wi-Fi cards and operating systemssuch as a Centrino laptop running Windows XPyou'll just need to enter the first key to access the network. Other cards and operating systems will require all four keys.
D-Link AirPlus Xtreme
The D-Link AirPlus Xtreme, model DI-624 has a web-based administration utility that works in much the way as the Linksys utilitybut the details, of course, are different. And, as they say, the devil is in the details.
As with the Linksys unit, you should first collect your Internet settings and have a modem connected either via cable or DSL to the Internet.
Don't forget to write down the first hexadecimal key so that you'll be able to connect your Wi-Fi computers to the access point.
Plug the D-Link unit in to the modem. Plug a computer in to the D-Link unit. After this is done, open a Web browser, such as Internet Explorer, on the connected computer.
Using the browser, open the web page http://192.168.0.1. The logon pop-up screen shown in Figure 13.12 will appear.
Figure 13.12. You will be prompted for a username and password when you log on to the D-Link's administrative utility.
As shown in Figure 13.12, enter admin for the username and leave the password field empty. Click OK.
The D-Link administrative utility will open in your browser to a page with a button that lets you run the Setup Wizard. If you click Run Wizard, the Setup Wizard will start. The initial pane of the Setup Wizard is shown in Figure 13.13.
Figure 13.13. The D-Link unit's Setup Wizard will help configure your access point.
In Figure 13.13, you can see most of the information that the Setup Wizard gathers, and you can choose to enter it using the Setup Wizard. I've found, however, that usually the Setup Wizard doesn't gather everything needed and it's just as easy to enter your settings manually.
The first step is to enter the settings needed for your Internet connection. To do this, click the WAN button shown on the left of Figure 13.13. The WAN Settings tab, shown in Figure 13.14, will open.
Figure 13.14. The WAN Settings page is used to enter the settings you need to connect to the Internet.
Enter the information you gathered about your Internet settings on the WAN Settings tab using the following guidelines:
After all your information has been entered, click Apply (found on the lower right of the screen). Next, click the Wireless button to open the Wireless Settings tab, shown in Figure 13.15.
Figure 13.15. The Wireless Settings page is used to enter the settings you need for the Wi-Fi portion of your network.
The Wireless Settings tab is used to configure the Wi-Fi portion of your networkthat is to say, the part of your network controlled by your wireless access point.
Make sure that the wireless radio is on and provide an identifying network name (also called the SSID). Next, give your wireless network some security by enabling 128-bit WEP encryption and at least the first key. An example of these settings is shown in Figure 13.15. Click Apply when you are through.
Next, click the Tools tab to open the Administrator Settings page, shown in Figure 13.16.
Figure 13.16. The Administrator Settings page is used to change the login password.
You can use the Administrator Settings page to change the login password. As you'll recall, the initial password is blank. This should be changed for security reasons, but you don't have to do it right away. Before you bother with it, you can make sure that your wired and wireless networks are connecting to the Internet and that you can connect using your laptop.
With all the settings in place in the D-Link's administrative utility, close your Web browser and reopen it and check to make sure that you can connect to the Internet.
Cloning MAC Addresses
As I mentioned earlier in this chapter, some ISPs attempt to control your access to the Internet by verifying the unique MAC identifier baked in to your network card. The MAC that belongs to your wireless access point will not match the MAC that goes with the network card in the computer you originally used to log on to the Internet, so the ISP won't let your access point connect.
If you can't figure out why you can't connect to the Internet, this might be the problem. Of course, if you think that this is the problem, you should probably contact your ISP, and tell them that you have changed your network access equipment, and get them to change the MAC address associated with your account.
You can set most Wi-Fi access points to spoof a MAC address or fool the ISP into thinking that they have the same MAC address as some other device, such as the original network card.
For example, to do this using the D-Link unit, open its administrative utility as I just explained. Next, open the WAN Settings tab shown in Figure 13.14.
As you can see in Figure 13.14, the actual MAC of the wireless unit is shown. You can manually enter a MAC to replace it, which will then be spoofed to the ISP.
If you don't know the MAC address to enterand who walks around knowing the MAC address of the network card registered with their ISPthere are two possible approaches:
It's easy to find the MAC address of a network card by running the Ipconfig utility and reading the Physical Address information for the card.
Other Wi-Fi access points have similar MAC address spoofing and cloning capabilities.
To clone the MAC address of the network card of the machine connected to the D-Link access point (so that the cloned MAC address will be spoofed to the ISP), simply click the Clone button shown in Figure 13.14.
To automatically configure an Airport Extreme access point, you first need to have an Apple computerequipped with Airport Extreme and running MAC OS X version 10connected to the Internet. By the way, everything in this section applies equally to the Airport Express Base Station as well as the Airport Extreme unit. But it's easy enough to administer these access points from either a Windows-based PC or an Apple computer.
Just to keep terms straight, Airport is Apple speak for 802.11b Wi-Fi, and Airport Extreme is Apple's way of saying 802.11g.
The Apple computer that is Airport Extreme ready will be used to administer the Airport Extreme Base Station. The computer must be capable of connecting to the Internet using a non-Airport access method because later in the process, the Airport Setup Assistant software will use your computer's active Internet settings (the ones you can see on the Network tab of the System Preferences dialog) to configure the Airport Extreme Base Station.
An alternative is to download the Windows administration program for Windows XP, which you can download from http://www.apple.com/airportextreme. With this utility, you don't need an Apple to administer the Airport Extreme Base Station.
With the Apple computer connected to the Internet, simply connect the Airport Extreme Base Station as explained in "Plugging in the Hardware."
Fire up the Airport Extreme Base Station by plugging it in. When the middle light of the three on the front of the Airport Extreme Base Station comes on, you are ready for the next step.
On your computer, open the Airport Setup Assistant application. (You can find it in the Applications/Utilities folder.)
The Airport Setup Assistant will first configure the Airport Extreme Base Station, using the network settings from your computer, and then configure your computer to work with the base station.
If you can't find Airport Setup Assistant on your computer, use the installer for it located on the CD-ROM that came with your Airport Extreme Base Station.
When prompted, you should provide a name for the base station (and Wi-Fi network) and a password that is not the default. By the way, it is possible that you might need to know the default password to enter these new settings; if so, it is public.
When you click through all the screens in the Airport Setup Assistant, your Airport Extreme Base Station and computer are good to go! See! Wasn't that easy?
You can use any computer with Wi-Fi capabilitiessuch as a Centrino laptopas part of the network you are creating with Airport Extreme Base Station. It doesn't have to be an Apple computer.
Apple computers equipped with Airport Extreme will connect to the new Wi-Fi network automatically. They will prompt you for the password (encryption key) if you've protected the networkwhich you should do. Windows machines connect to the new Wi-Fi network the way they would to any other Wi-Fi network. (They don't have to know that Apple manufactures the Airport Extreme Base Station.) Once again, you will have to enter an encryption key to connect to a protected network.