Need help extending a wireless network
March 11, 2009 4:56 AM   Subscribe

I need help extending a wireless network either via an Airport Express or an ancient Linksys (BEFW11S4 ver. 2).

I have limited experience setting these things up but do okay with my mac-only setup at home. Here's what's gong on:

The small cooperative market where I work has a Netgear FS108 router connected to a Linksys WRT54G2. This is set up in the office basement in the absolute furthest place it can be from where the customers use the service in the cafe upstairs and across the building. It is connected to a computer running XP, I believe. I am new at this place and have suggested we extend the network so that the wifi is useful. They love the idea and asked me to do it. errrrr.

So I brought an Airport Express I have at home and gave it a go. Immediately I ran into WDS issues and working at the cash register meant I had no time to really search, read, etc. When I got home I did some research and found a few OLD articles (1, 2) about how to accomplish what I want to do. But each article also has hundreds of comments with people either disputing the original author, others saying it worked perfectly, and still others saying it worked but they needed to do x,y and z.

I also have an old Linksys BEFW11S4 ver. 2 that I have had in the closet since 2003. I have not used it since I switched to Mac that year. I have no idea what firmware is being run on any of these items. I am happy to upgrade the firmware for the BEFW and/or the AE, but as a new employee I would rather not flash the WRT54G2 unless absolutely necessary. Or some reassurance as I don't really understand it. I *think* I read that the BEFW doesn't have the ability to flash the firmware, but I can't say for sure.

If it helps, there is CURRENTLY no security on the wireless network. For the time being that isn't going to change, and so I would appreciate that part of the equation be left out of this discussion.

Thanks for reading this far. I could really use some help and instructions in an easy-to-follow way.
posted by terrapin to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
Id just run a cat5 cable to the basement and move the WRT54G upstairs. WDS adds a level of complexity and flakiness that you may not want to support. Or run a cat5 cable just for the BEF series router upstairs.

If you want to do WDS I believe the stock firmware wont support it. You'll need to flash that other linksys with DD-WRT. Im not sure if the BEF* models are compatible with DD-WRT or any third-party firmware.

his is set up in the office basement in the absolute furthest place it can be from where the customers use the service in the cafe upstairs and across the building.

Its very important to understand that unless you put this new wireless network on some kind of DMZ or firewall it off from the network, people will find a way into your office computers. They might be able to spread worms, browse shares, brute-force passwords, etc. Its a real risk. Heck, I port scan for fun on wifi and find all sorts of stuff open. This isnt exactly a theoretical attack.

Your plan for providing wifi for your cafe should involve putting that BEF series onto a DMZ. Im not sure where you are getting your internet from (DSL?) but you should be looking into DMZ options so that customers only get internet and have no access to your LAN. Now you can add wifi security to the basement wifi network.

Lastly, capacity is always a concern. One guy can run a torrent and hose your internet connection. Is this an acceptable risk for your office? If not then you should figure out a way to control this (throttling, blocking, dedicated DSL just for the cafe).
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:59 AM on March 11, 2009

I second just moving the router, cable is cheap and easy...
posted by HuronBob at 9:16 AM on March 11, 2009

nthing the idea of forgoing WDS and just running a longer ethernet cable. WDS is finicky, even when you've got matching wireless routers. Start mixing models and manufacturers and you have a nightmare support situation, if you can even get it working to begin with. It is absolutely not a solution I would support for my clients, nor recommend.
posted by at 10:05 AM on March 11, 2009

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