PDA

View Full Version : SB2 Connect only when SSID Broadcast?



scbash
2005-10-12, 18:03
Hello everyone-

After a week working, suddenly my SB2 cannot find my wireless network unless the SSID is being broadcast. I had the same problem during initial setup, but it suddenly went away (AFTER I gave up for the night, but I didn't complain and enjoyed the music for a week). I have a Linksys WRT54G, which I updated to the most recent firmware, and I'm running Slimserver 6.2 and firmware 23 (all the updates are from a week ago when I first got the box). I've changed the SSID several times, and any time I disable SSID broadcast, I watch the SB2's wireless strength go to zero. I am using WEP with a MAC filter, but the SB2's behavior is the same with those either on or off. Two laptops access the network on a regular basis, but I did identify a channel conflict this afternoon, and subsequently moved my network to another channel (both laptops reported improved signal strength after the move). When SSID broadcast is on, SB2 reports a signal strength between 85-95%. During testing I also connected the SB2 via the wired interface, and that works flawlessly.

I've run out of ideas, and would love to hear thoughts from the community. Obviously, I COULD just leave SSID broadcast on, but I much prefer not broadcasting the SSID for all the neighbors to see.

Thanks in advance,
Stephen

MrC
2005-10-12, 18:48
This is a common issue with non-broadcasting WLANs, and many people report this.

Disabling SSID does not increase security, nor does it hide your SSID. It is in fact available in every associate packet, so unless you're not using the WLAN at all, its there in plain text.

Furthermore, disabling SSID can negatively affect performance.

So, don't sweat it, configure WPA and MAC address filtering and you'll reduce your security risks while allowing your network to connect without your current troubles.

If you feel like you still want SSID broadcasts disabled, enable them, and once you are associated, you can disable them again.

ceejay
2005-10-13, 00:14
This might not be hlpeful to you, but my wireless networks (I have two) are both non-broadcasting SSID, and my two squeezeboxes both pick them up fine.

I am still on earlier versions of the software, however, so if something has broken it would be in a recent firmware version.

The only thing that's caught me out in this area is the case sensitivity of the SSID - you have correctly matched case on the SSID defined in your AP to the SSID you're giving the SB2s, haven't you!?

Ceejay

scbash
2005-10-13, 05:31
MrC and Ceejay-

Thanks for the quick replies. First let me say that I understand that not broadcasting the SSID is security only by obfuscation -- it isn't there for EVERYONE to see, but yes, those looking for it can find it pretty easily. On the flip side, I like to think every little bit helps (especially in apartment buildings with potentially bored techies near by).

I'm currently using WEP because of an older network adapter in one of the laptops that doesn't support WPA, otherwise I would most definitely upgrade. I might look into upgrade options since it has been a while, but the older hardware was the original impetious to use the far from optimal WEP.

To address Ceejay's point, I actually upgraded the firmware because I was having this problem. So perhaps it is something in the hardware that makes it specific to my box?

And finally yes, I did check case-sensitivity. The general pattern goes like this:

1) Place router in non-broadcasting mode
2) Enter SSID in SqueezeBox2
3) SB2 cannot connect to network, reports 0% signal strength
4) Turn on router broadcast
5) SB2 will pick up the network (with no change to wireless settings), connect, and report 90% signal
6) Turn off router broadcast, SB2 will lose connection

That implies to me that the SSID I enter is correct, since I don't tell the SB2 to look for a new SSID that is being broadcast, but perhaps there is something going on that I'm unaware of.

I also tested the SB2 using an ad hoc network with one of the laptops, but from what I can tell, that essentially mirrors the broadcast case, so I'm not surprised that it worked fine.

So while I must agree with MrC that broadcast w/ WPA and MAC filtering is a solution, it isn't one that I'm real happy with. Are there any other thoughts that I could at least try before going the broadcast route?

Thanks for the help everyone!
Stephen

MrC
2005-10-13, 08:22
Sorry, I've not found a good solution to why some routers won't pick up an association when SSID broadcast is disabled.

You are worried about security, and you indicated that you are in an apt. with possible bored techies nearby and are using WEP! You will not be fooling the bored techies, and the rest of the people don't really care about seeing your SSID, nor with MAC filtering be able to access anyway.

Got online and order a new, very cheap wlan card and go WPA!

dean
2005-10-13, 21:38
I filed bug 2288 about this failure case with the wrt54g. This works fine on my belkin pre-n router, but if other folks are seeing this with other access points, please add details to the bug here: http://bugs.slimdevices.com/show_bug.cgi?id=2288

thanks,
dean

scbash
2005-10-14, 06:14
Dean-

Thanks for opening the bug. I've added myself to CC. Also, if there is any testing or additional information I can help out with, let me know. I'm going to see if I can get some more verbose operating logs from the router, and I'll update the bug if I learn anything.

For now I just bit the bullet and turned on broadcast. Getting WPA on my fiancee's work laptop was a bit of a hassle, but as of 11:30 last night it was working :)

Thanks again everyone.

Stephen