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[Saturday 26th March 2005 at 11:55 pm]

[Feeling |sleepysleepy]

Okay, here's a good one: why does a wireless-to-ethernet bridge authenticate using the mac address of whatever computer was first plugged into it?

Dramatis Personnae
Bridge: a Netgear WGE101 802.11g to ethernet bridge.
Desktop: a random collection of parts that has been mangled and shuffled over the course of 3 years. Considering renaming it to "Igor".
Laptop: a nice laptop with butil-in ethernet and a DWL-610 802.11b wireless card.
Access point: a Netgear WGE602 802.11g access point, rigged with mac filtering and encryption.
Switch: a generic 5-port 10/100 ethernet switch.

Also full host of Cat5 cables, kettle leads, and an 8-way surge protector made by Belkin.

Rough sequence of events, carried out over the course of a week:

  • Plug in bridge and config it from Igor. At this point the mac address for desktop and bridge are in the access point's allowed list.
  • Bridge warbles happily away at access point and spews out packets into the ether. So far so good.
  • Point and drool at internet from desktop.
  • Point and drool at internet from laptop. The laptop's mac address is *not* in the allowed list.
  • After about a week, reboot bridge by virtue of hitting the off button on the extension cable. Why Belkin had to make it a hair trigger, I shall never know.
  • Bridge comes up, but flashing lights on bridge tell me it's not talking to the wireless anymore.
  • Plug laptop into bridge (thru generic 5-port switch) and tinker with settings. Bridge can see access point in the list of SSIDs.
  • Feed bridge passphrase and reboot it (through web interface). No joy.
  • Pound head for a moment, then remember wireless PC Card.
  • Log into access point config with laptop, look at settings and find that the wired mac address of the laptop is "Disconnected".
  • Add that address to allowed list and apply (no reboot needed). Bridge still flashes lights at me.
  • Re-enter passphrase into bridge (using wired connectoin on laptop), reboot the thing and it comes up sweet as pie.
  • Ponder for a moment, before deciding that mac address lists and bridges Don't Work.

The end.

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