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Setting up WLAN and looking for advice

Last response: in Wireless Networking
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December 18, 2003 9:04:20 PM

I recently purchased a Linksys wireless-g broadband router (wrt54g(?)) and a Linksys wireless-g game adapter (wga54g) for use with both my laptop and Playstation2. Should be setting it up soon with the configuration below and would appreciate any advice and input on my questions (also below).....Thanks in advance.

- WinXP Pro desktop wired to router and DSL in bedroom. PC uses ZoneAlarm software firewall and is hooked up to printer via a serial cable.
- WinXP Pro notebook will connect wirelessly (integrated 1000Mbps Ethernet LAN + internal wireless LAN Mini-PCI Module, brand unknown) and will also use ZoneAlarm software firewall.
- Playstation2 with ethernet network adapter will use the wireless game adapter, which I assume is the same as a bridge only smaller.
- All network components are 802.11g compatible and have yet to be configured.

QUESTIONS:
1. Should I update the firmware on both before installing?
2. Will I be able to print from my laptop through the desktop pc or does the printer need to be connected to the router through some ethernet interface?
3. Will I be able to use MAC address filtering (not sure if this is correct terminology) given that one of the devices is a Playstation2 (i.e. will the linksys wireless game adapter have a MAC address of its own)?
4. Will MAC address filtering provide enough security or should I also consider using passwords and/or encryption? I know that "Enough security" is subjective, so here's some context - I live in a densly populated section of Los Angeles with a decent number of high tech or technically savvy neighbors ;) 
5. Should I change the default port(s) that are used and if so which port(s) should I change to?
6. I've detected approximately 5 other wireless networks in my vicinity while on my laptop, is there anything I should do to avoid conflicts?
7. Should I continue using the software firewalls on the desktop and laptop or should I just use the router's firewall or both?
8. Any other setup or security suggestions?

I'd like to avoid using encryption if possible since I do alot of online gaming and have a low tolerance for lag of any kind.

More about : setting wlan advice

December 19, 2003 10:19:18 PM

Answers for the questions:

1) It's recommended, but read the firmware update information to see if its beneficial to you first.

2) Yes, more than likely you'll be sharing the printer from your main PC, so you could just install it to your laptop off your main PC.

3) Yes, given your situation, MAC filtering is recommended, disable SSID broadcasting (it's in the wireless configuration of the router), disable Zero Wireless Configuration on your XP systems, and if possible create security "keys" (on the router) and manually input them into your wireless devices (on the wireless NIC) to give yourself the most security. Your Router should only access certain MAC addresses with certain keys in the order you specify.

5) I wouldn't recommend it.

6) You may want to use a different internal IP addressing system. You can from 192.169.1.x to 10.x.x.x if you wish (this IP range is reserved for business use and other "off the internet" uses). You *could* change your subnet, but unless you completely understand what you're doing, don't bother.

7) Using your router as a firewall and the software on your PCs is the best practice. This doesn't protect you against someone 'accidently' joining your wireless network, but it will keep outsiders from getting through your router and onto your PC/network. The wireless security will keep your neighbors out.

8) Set a new password for your wireless router. minimum 6 characters, alpha-numeric, upper/lowercase and/or symbols.
Ex. SuR1round or w1ReL3ss!

Sounds like you're ready to go.
WEP and WPA can cause some slow down, I would recommend trying to game with them on and off to see how much you are effected. If you're able to game with them on, keep it on. If it effects your gaming you can turn them off.

Riser

Riser
December 20, 2003 4:31:12 AM

Thank you very much for the feedback Riser. I've successfully (kind of) connected with my laptop and will try the Playstation 2 tomorrow.

One major issue - I wasn't able to view any networks or connect with my laptop after changing the settings for Wireless Zero to either manual or disabled and the wireless NIC application only allows me to "Disable Radio" or "Rescan". I'm a bit concerned about this because I'm already experiencing random disconnects from my network and couldn't find any updates or additional tools on the manufacturers website. While connected my link is "Excellent", of course my laptop is only 4 feet away from the router, but when the connection is dropped I can not manually reconnect when my network is visible/available or I simply cannot find my network.

I'm considering returning my laptop to have the internal wireless NIC removed and then replacing it with a Linksys PC card (a-g compliant). However, when researching the linksys card I found that linksys recommends using Wireless Zero config with it, but couldn't tell whether or not it was required =/

Any suggestions?

The card model and manufacturer are: Intersil PRISM Wireless LAN 802.11a/g Adapter, Intersil Americas Inc. (www.sagernotebook.com model 5680)
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December 22, 2003 2:40:52 PM

Do your disconnects happen on a random basis, or do they happen on a regular basis - i.e. after 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or some other timed basis?

If they happen on a regular basis, you might want to check your 802.1x security settings to see if they match on the router and laptop. You'll probably want to disable this on both as your PS2 (or other devices?) may not support this.
December 22, 2003 9:12:12 PM

The disconnects are happening seemingly randomly. I've decided to scrap the PS2 wireless connection and stick to PC gaming for now.
!