Please recommand USB b/g wireless stick that are supported in pfSense 2.1



  • Hi everyone,

    I am running pfsense 2.1 on Alix hardware. I would like to add a USB wireless stick to add wifi capability to the router. Please recommend USB stick(s) that have worked well for you.

    I am keen on sticks with following capabilities:

    • Multiple AP support
    • Multiple Infrastructure support

    Thanks



  • I don't know of any WiFi USB sticks supported by FreeBSD that also supports multiple APs.

    If you are prepared to use the miniPCI slot in the Alix you have rather more options.

    The table at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AojFUXcbH0ROdHgwYkFHbkRUdV9hVWljVWl5SXkxbFE&hl=en#gid=0 suggests the mwl driver is the only one supporting multiple APs and multiple stations. The FreeBSD man page for mwl at http://www.freebsd.org/cgi/man.cgi?query=mwl&apropos=0&sektion=0&manpath=FreeBSD+8.3-RELEASE+and+Ports&arch=default&format=html says the driver supports the 88W8363 chipset. An eBay search for 88W8363 turns up a small number of vendors selling miniPCI cards with that chipset. A search in these forums will probably turn up a report from jimp (if I recall correctly) of satisfactory performance from a card with that chipset.



  • Thanks Wallabybob.

    How about USB sticks that support both AP and Infrastructure (multiple not necessary). Basically, what is the next best USB stick supported by pfSense?

    Thanks



  • @torontob:

    How about USB sticks that support both AP and Infrastructure (multiple not necessary).

    I don't know of any USB sticks that will support both AP and Infrastructure modes concurrently. The only USB stick that support AP OR Infrastructure mode appear to use either the ural driver or the rum driver or the run driver. The chips supported by ural and rum drivers appear to have gone end of life at least a couple of years ago. I have had success with the Tenda W311U but that seems to be no longer available retail near me. The TP-Link WN321G (revision 4 or later) apparently has the same chipset as Tenda W311U but I think I have read in pfSense forums of crashes on attempting to use it in Infrastructure mode. I don't recall the version of pfSense.

    @torontob:

    Basically, what is the next best USB stick supported by pfSense?

    Best for what? Please describe your application.

    What is wrong with using a miniPCI card?



  • You are right Tenda is not readily available. Options seem to be limited.

    How about run (Ralink USB 802.11n); per the excel sheet that is supported. Anyone knows of USB stick with chips that support run?

    Thanks



  • @torontob:

    Anyone knows of USB stick with chips that support run?

    Sorry, I left this out of my previous reply. TP-Link WN321G (rev 4) has "run" chipset;  earlier rev has "rum" chipset.


  • Netgate Administrator

    I have just acquired a TP-Link WN7200ND which seems to work fairly well under 2.0.1.

    ugen4.2: <ralink>at usbus4
    run0: <1.0> on usbus4
    run0: MAC/BBP RT3070 (rev 0x0201), RF RT3020 (MIMO 1T1R), address f8:d1:21:c3:5b:57
    run0: firmware RT2870 loaded</ralink> 
    

    It has the advantage of having a much greater range than an average USB stick due to it's larger antenna. It also has a greater output power but I'm not sure pfSense can use it.

    However it cannot support multiple SSIDs:

    May 23 00:30:39 	php: /interfaces_wireless_edit.php: Failed to clone interface run0 with error code 1, output ifconfig: SIOCIFCREATE2: Input/output error
    

    Or perhaps I'm doing wrong?

    It also doesn't support Adhoc mode but does anyone actually use that?

    Steve

    Edit: Looks like it can only do channels 1-11 which is kind of annoying  >:(



  • @stephenw10:

    Edit: Looks like it can only do channels 1-11 which is kind of annoying  >:(

    The specs on the linked web page suggest there are two models: 20dBm (EIRP) for "CE" countries and 27dBm for "FCC" countries. Maybe number of channels is associated with the EIRP (more channels on the "other" variant?) Maybe different firmware is required to get more channels.


  • Netgate Administrator

    Yes I think firmware would be my guess too. It doesn't seem to respond to setting the region or country via the gui. Also it claims 2.400-2.4835GHz which would be channels 1-14.
    I'll have to try it in a Windows box.

    Steve



  • stephenw10, how has your tests come since yesterday?

    • Does this card work in both Infrastructure and AP mode?
    • Which mode supports multiple clones?

    Indeed this is a better options as it also supports "N" (which hopefully will be supported in pfSense soon?)

    Thanks


  • Netgate Administrator

    Sorry I haven't had it connected since then. I've spent the last 24hours trying to rewrite my dsdt  to make speedstep work, unsuccessfully!  ::)

    I couldn't get multiple clones to load at all. I'll give it another try.

    Steve



  • Hi Stephen,

    Yes, it would be great if you can let us know the results as I see this is an N capable stick so future proof (sort of :-)

    Best,



  • Sorry, to insist Stephen but have you had another chance to test things?

    Best,


  • Netgate Administrator

    Hmm, I can't make it do any virtual APs on top of the main one. It works as a client in infrastructure mode only. Ad hoc mode crashes the gui.
    It seems like I'm missing something, I'll keep playing with it. If you need multiple virtual APs this probably isn't for you.  :(
    The range is still pretty good though!  ;)

    Steve

    Edit: Channel 12 and 13 work fine in Windows so not a hardware limitation.



  • Thanks for the update Stephen.

    So, it works fine with one AP and one Infrastructure interface?
    Can it work fine with both running at the same time or that doesn't work either?

    *I wonder why it doesn't work since it shows in the list and the proper chipset is there. What other factors are involved?

    Thanks


  • Netgate Administrator

    It can only operate in one mode at a time, AP, station or monitor (not ad-hoc).

    Hard to say what other factors might be limiting it. The run(4) driver supports several USB chips so perhaps not all of them have all capabilities. User error!  ::)

    Steve

    Edit: I hope I made this clear (thought I don't think I did!) that I'm testing this under 2.0.1 so it may be better supported by 2.1. The re-mount delay has stopped me running a 2.1 image at the moment.


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