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Wireless Home Networking For Dummies - Danny Briere.pdf
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Chapter 8: Setting Up a Wireless Mac Network 141

Apple AirPort Software Updates

Apple has been a pioneer in wireless networking, but as more and more people use wireless networking and as the number of companies producing Wi-Fi equipment grows, Apple has continued to improve its wireless products. Amazingly, the majority of the improvements can be applied to the original AirPort Card and AirPort Base Station through software upgrades. In general, if you keep your Mac OS software current (as of this writing, Mac OS v. 10.2.3) and your AirPort firmware up to date, you will be able to take advantage of most of the new wireless networking features. (Note: You cannot upgrade an AirPort Card to an AirPort Extreme Card through a firmware update.)

Rather than waiting to release all new features at once, Apple continually puts out updates to its AirPort software. Read on to discover how each of the new versions of AirPort software can benefit your wireless network.

AirPort 2.0 software

When Apple released the Snow AirPort Base Station, it upgraded the AirPort software to version 2.0. Your computer must have Mac OS v. 9.0.4 or later to install this software. Compared with the original Graphite AirPort Base Station, AirPort 2.0 adds the following features:

America Online compatibility: If you use AOL to connect to the Internet over a dialup phone connection, AOL’s unique login protocol has been a stumbling block that has prevented you from connecting to the Internet through your AirPort’s built-in modem — until now. Apple and AOL have collaborated and come up with a way to enable AOL customers to use AirPort. At the time of this writing, AirPort is the only wireless AP with a built-in modem that also works with AOL. (Note: AOL users can wirelessly connect to AOL using any Wi-Fi wireless network that’s connected to the Internet via a cable or DSL modem.)

128-bit encryption: The security features have been improved in several ways including support for 128-bit encryption. Earlier versions of the base station software supported only 64-bit encryption. Note: You cannot upgrade the Graphite Base Station to 128-bit encryption, but you can upgrade your AirPort Cards to 128-bit.

RADIUS authentication and Cisco LEAP client support: Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) and Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol (LEAP) are enhanced security options of interest to corporate and university IS departments . . . and are a nice bonus for a wireless home network.

142 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network

Support for up to 50 users: The Graphite AirPort Base Station can handle as many as ten wireless network client devices. The Snow AirPort Base Station can handle up to 50 users (up to about 30 simultaneously). For home use, however, you probably will never exceed ten users.

AirPort 2.0.4 software

But Apple didn’t stop adding features with AirPort 2.0. The last version of AirPort 2.0 software that will install on Mac OS 9 (actually version 9.2.1 or higher) is AirPort 2.0.4. In addition to the features in AirPort 2.0, it adds the following:

Windows VPN support: The AirPort Base Station is now compatible with Windows Virtual Private Networking (VPN) software that uses Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) or Internet Protocol Security (IPSec). This is big for businesses and home offices of employees who want to connect to the main company network over the Internet.

Incoming remote connections: The AirPort Base Station now supports incoming calls from other computers to the modem port to allow remote access to the network to which the AirPort Base Station is attached.

Multiple connections to port-mapped services: This feature is for advanced users and small business owners who plan to host one or more servers on their network. If you plan to host a Web server, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server, or other public server on your system, you can now map the public ports on the AirPort Base Station to specific private ports on one or more computers on your private network. This feature also comes in handy if you want to connect other devices, such as an Xbox game console, to the AirPort and to Xbox live gaming service.

Most home broadband ISPs don’t permit you to operate a server on your home computer because you could potentially hog the bandwidth on their broadband network. For this reason, many broadband service providers meter the upload speeds on home accounts to a rate that would be too slow to host a Web site or other Internet site.

AirPort 2.0.5 software

If you want to take advantage of future upgrades to the AirPort software beyond version 2.0.4, you’ll have to upgrade your computer’s operating system to at least OS X version 10.1.5. AirPort 2.0.5 is not available for Mac OS 9 computers. You can use AirPort 2.0.5 software to configure or upgrade your AirPort hardware to add the following features:

Chapter 8: Setting Up a Wireless Mac Network 143

Updated firmware: Version 2.0.5 of the AirPort software includes the latest version of the firmware (the product’s feature set stored as software on chips inside the card or base station) for both AirPort Cards and AirPort Base Station (v. 4.0.7). Apple recommends this firmware update to customers who have problems connecting to their ISP or to secure Web sites.

Improved PPPoE support: Many DSL broadband ISPs use a special protocol — Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE) — to provide a very fast Internet connection over normal telephone lines. AirPort 2.0.5 offers improved PPPoE support compared with previous software versions.

AirPort 2.1.1 software

The most current AirPort software (at the time of this writing) is AirPort 2.1.1. If your Mac is running OS version 10.2 (Jaguar) or later, you can use AirPort 2.1.1 to configure or upgrade your AirPort hardware. As is true with AirPort 2.0.5, version 2.1.1of the AirPort software includes the latest version of the firmware for both AirPort Cards and AirPort Base Station. In addition, AirPort 2.1.1 adds the following features:

Verizon DSL: This update corrects problems that sometimes occurred with e-mail when an AirPort network was connected to the Internet via Verizon DSL services.

Added security: The Base Station administrator (you) can now turn off the capability to configure the AirPort Base Station over the second Ethernet port (the WAN port of the Snow Base Station; see the earlier section “Come in, AirPort Base Station, over . . .”). This eliminates the possibility that someone could reconfigure your Base Station over the Internet.

Password compatibility: AirPort 2.1.1 software makes it easier to enter network passwords when you want to connect to a Microsoft Windowsbased wireless network. The new software automatically distinguishes between alphanumeric (American Standard Code for Information Interchange; ASCII) and hexadecimal passwords. With earlier versions of the software, to connect to a Wired Equivalent Privacy protocol- (WEP) encrypted Windows-based network, you had to type quotation marks around alphanumeric values and type a dollar sign character ($) in front of hexadecimal numbers. Read the “Connecting to Non-Apple-Based Wireless Networks” section of this chapter for more on this issue.