Update from 2.0.3 to 2.1: WLAN card is no longer working



  • I'm having two different pfSense machines and recently I tried to bring on of them from pfSense 2.0.3 to 2.1. This machine is an Alix2D13
    board with an Atheros AR5413 WLAN card. It is running rock stable under version 2.0.3 but after a fresh installation (nanoBSD 2G on a 4G
    compact flash card) and restoration of the 2.0.3 configuration the WLAN card is no longer working.

    Here are my observations so far:

    1.) During boot the card is detected with no suspicious messages appearing.

    2.) Both cloned interfaces show up in the webGUI of pfSense. All settings appear to be correctly imported.

    Background:
        Interface ath0 with logical name WLAN has WPA2/AES encryption enabled with authentication against a radius server (IEEE802.1X) while
        interface ath0_wlan1 has logical name WLAN2 and is unencrypted with authentication against a captive portal.

    3.) Network sniffers like Kismet and inSSIDer however show that BOTH SSIDs are unenctypted.

    4.) Nor WLAN nor WLAN2 let me establish a connection with a wireless client.

    5.) The WLAN card does not produce any logging information, e.g. file /var/log/wireless.log remains empty.

    6.) Attempting to change the wireless configuration in the webGUI of pfSense does not change the described behavior.

    7.) For several times I deleted all wireless configuration including all firewall rules of both interfaces and subsequently re-created it. After one of
        these attempts suddenly both wireless devices worked as under version 2.0.3. After a cold reboot things were again as described above.
        Until now I could not bring my wireless devices up again. This is even independent from the number of clones: Even if not cloning the  card
        the wireless device remains unusable.

    8.) The only boot error that I could observe is:
        "Generating RRD graphs…Killed"

    This error goes along with my observation that pfSense cannot produce any RDD data. After deleting all data in the webGUI of
        pfSense some data are produced. But after a reboot (warm or cold) the boot error re-appears and no data are produced all old data
        are lost. I assume that the wireless and the RDD issues are correlated because I roughly remember that RDD worked after I had
        deleted all wirelees configuration. It continued working even after a reboot without wireless configuration. I am, however, not
        quite sure on this - would have to check it again.

    9.) As soon as I switch back to pfSense 2.0.3 (on another compact flash card) my WLAN card is working again as expected. I've added this to
          exclude a hardware failure just during or shortly after updating.

    My conclusions so far:

    pfSense 2.1 somehow leaves my wireless card in an undefinite state where it can be seen by sniffers and regular wireless clients but
    where it is not fully initialized.

    I finally decided to go with a fresh intallation on my Alix after I had an unsuccessful attempt in updating the machine through the serial
    console. I have been faced with all those errors described in this subforum like "/var: write failded, filesystem is full" and "Generating RRD
    graphs...ERROR: Dangling Comment errors" leaving me in a state where even the serial console was dead after the first reboot. Only a cold
    reboot brought my Alix back but without these messages disappearing.

    My questions:

    1.) Has anybody made similar experiences with his wireless card under pfSense 2.1?

    2.) Are there any known issuses with wireless configuration under 2.1?

    3.) What else could I do to get my wireless subsystem back under pfSense 2.1. I would really like to update.

    4.) Are there any known RDD issues under version 2.1 and is there any correlation between the wireless and the RDD problems?

    5.) Are these problems likely to be expected on my Soekris net6501 with an Atheros AR9280. The machine is currently running rock
        stable (nanoBSD i386 2G on a 4G compact flash card, no packages installed).

    Thanks in advance for any feedback,
    Peter



  • I too am experiencing this problem.  I have an Alix board (I forget which model) and an Atheros 5413 chipset.  It worked just fine when I was on the 2.0.1 but when I upgraded to 2.1 the wireless went crazy.  When I try to join the network from my wireless devices it can see the SSID just fine and has good signal strength, but joining is hit and miss.  Even when I can get the association to work, I am then unable to get to the internet or even local network resources.  I am not seeing anything in any of the logs that points to any problems.

    Here is my dmesg (dmesg | grep ath0):

    ath0: <atheros 5413="">mem 0xe00c0000-0xe00cffff irq 9 at device 12.0 on pci0
    ath0: [ITHREAD]
    ath0: AR5413 mac 10.5 RF5413 phy 6.1

    Here is the only log in my system log that is related to wireless:

    php: /interfaces.php: The command '/sbin/ifconfig 'ath0_wlan0' inet delete' returned exit code '1', the output was 'ifconfig: ioctl (SIOCDIFADDR): Can't assign requested address

    Here is my hostap configuration (/var/etc/hostapd_ath0_wlan0.conf):

    cat /var/etc/hostapd_ath0_wlan0.conf
    interface=ath0_wlan0
    driver=bsd
    logger_syslog=-1
    logger_syslog_level=0
    logger_stdout=-1
    logger_stdout_level=0
    dump_file=/tmp/hostapd_ath0_wlan0.dump
    ctrl_interface=/var/run/hostapd
    ctrl_interface_group=wheel
    #accept_mac_file=/tmp/hostapd_ath0_wlan0.accept
    #deny_mac_file=/tmp/hostapd_ath0_wlan0.deny
    #macaddr_acl=
    ssid=My_SSID
    debug=
    auth_algs=1
    wpa=2
    wpa_key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
    wpa_pairwise=CCMP
    wpa_group_rekey=3600
    wpa_gmk_rekey=7200
    wpa_strict_rekey=
    wpa_passphrase=*******************

    ieee8021x=

    Additionally my wired network works just fine, this is only related to the wireless side of things.  Anyone have any ideas on troubleshooting steps that I can perform to get to source of the problem?</atheros>



  • Yes, llburrito, symptoms look very similar. It's interesting that you are using the same WLAN card and probably the same mainboard. Currently it's hard for me to believe that the described issue is restricted to this special hardware combination. I  more think that:

    1.) many psSense installation are still waiting to be upgraded
    2.) the majority of pfSense installations are not operating a WLAN card. They are probably combinded with an external access point.

    That's why there are rare WLAN related threads dealing with pfSense 2.1.

    I would really like to upgrade to version 2.1 but currently the WLAN issue is a show stopper. I've read another interesting thread where the author and contributers describe a similar problem where their non-WLAN OPT interface remains dead http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,66938.0.html. I feel the problems may be related but cannot say for sure without furter information.

    Regards,
    Peter



  • For the record, I have an Alix 2D13 with Atheros KIT-ALIX-5004MP-DUAL from NetGate WiFi card in it:

    ath0: <atheros 5212=""> mem 0xe00c0000-0xe00cffff irq 9 at device 12.0 on pci0
    ath0: [ITHREAD]
    ath0: AR5212 mac 5.9 RF5112 phy 4.3
    wlan0: changing name to 'ath0_wlan0'</atheros>
    

    It is running happily on 2.1-RELEASE with multiple WiFi clients connected at a remote site as I type. Obviously a different model, but posting just to confirm that this version of ath0 works.



  • @phil.davis:

    For the record, I have an Alix 2D13 with Atheros KIT-ALIX-5004MP-DUAL from NetGate WiFi card in it:

    ath0: <atheros 5212=""> mem 0xe00c0000-0xe00cffff irq 9 at device 12.0 on pci0
    ath0: [ITHREAD]
    ath0: AR5212 mac 5.9 RF5112 phy 4.3
    wlan0: changing name to 'ath0_wlan0'</atheros>
    

    It is running happily on 2.1-RELEASE with multiple WiFi clients connected at a remote site as I type. Obviously a different model, but posting just to confirm that this version of ath0 works.

    Thank you very much for your feedback. I am glad to hear that at least one WLAN card is working with pfSense 2.1. Unfortunately my AR5412 remains in an unusable state: Nor completely dead neither fully initialized. I am wondering if this is resticted to this special WLAN card/chipset or if there is something else wrong. Currently I am completely stuck, having no idea what I could do to find the reason. Most annoying is the lack of any logging information. If only I could swap the WLAN card with another one but I don't have.

    Regards,
    Peter


  • Netgate Administrator

    I'm running an AR5005 (AR2413 chip) MINIPCI card with no problems at all. I not using any virtual access points, don't know if that might effect things.

    Steve



  • @stephenw10:

    I'm running an AR5005 (AR2413 chip) MINIPCI card with no problems at all. I not using any virtual access points, don't know if that might effect things.

    Steve

    Thank you, Steve, for your feedback. Yes, the virtual access point could be a point to start. I've been thinking about it as well and tried pfSense 2.1 without it during my various attempts to delete and re-create the wireless setup. Unfortunately this also did not help. I simply could not make my WLAN card to coperate properly with pfSense 2.1. Only re-installing pfSense 2.0.3 helped - the WLAN card immediately worked as expected. So I am currently out of ideas leaving my Alix with pfSense 2.0.3. Because of these bad experiences - please see above for further details - I do not dare to install pfSense on my Soekris net6501 with an AR9280.

    Regards,
    Peter



  • I just got a card from ebay with a similar result.

    
    ath0: <atheros 2424="" 5424="">.....
    ath0: [ITHREAD]
    ath0: AR2425 mac 14.2 RF5424 phy 7.0
    wlan0: changing name to 'ath0_wlan0'</atheros> 
    

    ifconfig shows both an ath0 device (status=associated) and a ath0_wlan0 device (status=no carrier). The latter has the correct wlan0 ip address. There is nothing in the wireless logs. I do not see the SSID being broadcast. WLAN0 is listed under 'interfaces" and has the appropriate setup options; I can enter some things but nothing makes it operate.

    Oh, well! It cost almost nothing to try this out, at least. I hope the next device coming in from ebay does better…

    I vaguely remember reading somewhere we have to put a command to load firmware for these, in /boot/loader.conf or  /boot/loader.conf.local, but now I can't find that thread for some reason. Might that be required to get these working?



  • @Paul47:

    Oh, well! It cost almost nothing to try this out, at least. I hope the next device coming in from ebay does better…

    Thanks for your feedback. There are obviously some WLAN cards that stop working under pfSense 2.1. Unfortunately, nobody can currently exactly tell you which cards are affected. One may assume, the error might be relared to the underlying FrreeBSD upgrade. Perhaps you might have a look at this thread describing another affected card before you are going to order a new one:
    http://forum.pfsense.org/index.php/topic,66823.new/topicseen.html

    Regards,
    Peter



  • My next device will be a USB-based AP. Cross my fingers on that one too.  :)

    FYI I am also not using IEEE802.1X authentication.



  • Just submitted a bug request + suggested workaround & fix that seems to address the issue with the wireless interface defaulting to OPEN instead of setting WPA2 properly.

    https://redmine.pfsense.org/issues/3562

    Hasn't completely gotten 802.1x working, but it's probably a step in the right direction and at least I can get WPA2 with PSK to work properly.



  • @notgeorge:

    Just submitted a bug request + suggested workaround & fix that seems to address the issue with the wireless interface defaulting to OPEN instead of setting WPA2 properly.

    https://redmine.pfsense.org/issues/3562

    Hasn't completely gotten 802.1x working, but it's probably a step in the right direction and at least I can get WPA2 with PSK to work properly.

    Thank you very much for your feedback. This issue was that serious for me that I have decided to open a new thread for it:
    https://forum.pfsense.org/index.php?topic=72483.0

    Within this thread ermal has fixed the problem some 2.1.1-PRERELEASE snapshots ago. And 802.1x authentication is still working as expected with the latest 2.1.1 snapshot (i386 nanobsd) from 2014-03-26. Therefore I  am regarding this issue as solved  :)

    Regards,
    Peter

    EDIT: I have just done some quick search on github. I am not very experienced with github but I strongly suppose, this commit of ermal has solved the 802.1x issue:
    https://github.com/pfsense/pfsense/commit/315bdf65a12337f150bde11d95824528d90068be


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