When we moved into our new flat I was faced with a problem. As with all people that rent, we’re stuck in a position where we can’t drill holes in the walls to run cat 6 from room to room. I’d already decided where most of our kit would be, in the living room, but the only logical place for my desk and its associated machine was the bedroom.
Given the inability to do the right thing and run a nice cheap cable between the two places I had to consider either wireless or powerline networking. In the end I went with the wireless option, mostly because I just think powerline networking is a bit of a gimmick and none of the kit I looked at seemed worth the money. I also found a really cheap pair of WAPs to use as a bridge.
This is where the moral of the story comes in, which is that you get what you pay for. At the time this was an acceptable compromise since money was short with the move and all, and I needed a quick fix. The WAPs in question are Edimax’s EW-7416APn V2, they cost about £40 each (which is less than half any competitor product). They are small, reasonably well built and work, ish.
The ish is the problem, I don’t like things which don’t work properly. I also don’t like companies which are disinterested in making things work properly. The first thing wrong with them is the shoddy web config interface. I dislike web config interfaces on devices like these generally, and these have a particularly buggy one. They also tend to lock up every week or so.
These things I could probably cope with. The real kicker is IPv6, or their lack thereof. I noticed this when I recently got a new laptop (Macbook Pro, the new 13″ one) and tried to get IPv6 working on it. I was expecting this to be a struggle (since OS X isn’t good with IPv6) and it was, but surprisingly not Apple’s fault.
I have my network set up to autoconfigure IPv6 addresses using router solicitation, clients configure themselves automatically with an IPv6 address comprised of the network prefix and an address determined by their MAC address. I’d like to use DHCPv6, but that’s another story. I noticed that the Mac was refusing to do this, no matter what I tried. Running rtadvd with debug on on the router revealed that it was hearing the Mac’s solicitations, but not sending anything back. I need to investigate this further, weekend is going to involve Wireshark.
Configuring the Mac with a manual IPv6 address seems to work fine, but there’s some rather odd behavior with ICMPv6 pings. My guess is that the Edimax WAPs are doing some kind of odd firewalling which isn’t configured correctly, or their implementation of Ethernet is just plain broken and it’s mangling frames… Will find out soon.
Anyway, all of this is potentially forgivable, IPv6 is quite new (ha!), so I contact Edimax’s support team to get a support ticket opened and start to work with them to fix the issues. Their response:
“Please note that EW-7416APn V2 isn’t support IPv6. This applies to all Edimax 11n routers and access points.”
Well that’s not a very helpful response really. Not sure where I’m going to go from here, I’ll still investigate exactly what the things are doing and go back to Edimax once I know, I somehow doubt they’ll be interested in fixing the issue though. I’ve already decided to replace these WAPs with something a little bit less cheap (more on that tomorrow) and I’ll likely just cut my losses and sell the things. It’s a shame though, since I have a feeling they are likely quite nice hardware, just with woefully lacking software.
I need to remember, cheaper != better.