Sjur Usken

Views on new technologies and business opportunities from Sjur Usken

So cute, but full p2p wlan routers! Incredible!


On the village-telco mailinglist there were a lead about these Accton wlan mesh routers. The routers are not new, FON uses them extensively, but I decided to try them out. I ordered three of them from the open-mesh website and got them a week later. My first impression was: “Damn, so small!!”.

They came in a brown box each, no manual, just a power supply and a strange flat Ethernet cable. It was really just to plug them into an Internet connection and do all of the configuration on www.open-mesh.com‘s Dashboard. Here you can edit the two SSIDs, one open and one private. On the open SSID you can configure a splash (welcome) page and if you want to use user authentication. You can choose from four commercial or if you have your own RADIUS server. I would believe FON would be one of these, but was not there. Probably you gotta flash the router with FON software, but that is probably a one-way road since FON has closed the SSH access.

The units were up and running from the box, I only had to type in the 5.x.x.x IP or MAC address to add the nodes to my network. I thought of what would happen with these unit if Open-Mesh put down their business, but was really relaxed reading their roadmap: Open Source management. Open-Mesh.com is supporting open-source mesh management solutions. We are contributing to a project being done at UNC Chapel Hill (http://orangemesh.sourceforge.net) to create a truly open-source management server for RO.B.IN mesh networks. It will automatically migrate your open-mesh networks to your own server without needing to re-enter data. We will re-integrate with that solution when it is complete and release our server as open-source as well (as one combined project). So stay tuned, these projects are both expanding and merging and will be completely open source.

Performance

I plugged a pc into the LAN port on one of the units directly linked to the one with Internet access. First I just managed to get 390/90 Kbit throughput, but realizing it was set a bandwidth limitations on it through the Dashboard. I set this to “0”, disablign it, and I was able to make up to 4Mbit throughput either ways. I found this very little to be a 802.11g WLAN. I will do further studies of what limits this traffic.

Security

There is no encryption as far as I know on the mesh connections. These are open-air traffic easy to sniff. There is a strong advice also to change the default root password on SSH through the Dashboard. If you put one of the routers on a public IP, anyone can SSH into it with the default password. They will then get a shell like this:

BusyBox v1.4.2 (2007-11-02 12:20:05 PDT) Built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.

_______                          ________             __
|       |.-----.-----.-----.  _  |        |.-----.----|  |__
|   -   ||  _  |  -__|     | |_| |  |  |  ||  -__|__--|     |
|_______||   __|_____|__|__|     |__|__|__||_____|____|__|__|
|__|  http://www.open-mesh.com ---------------------

Powered by these open source projects:

http://www.blogin.it       http://kokoro.ucsd.edu/nodogsplash
http://www.openwrt.org     http://www.open-mesh.org
http://www.olsr.org        http://coova.org/
Version: r1421 2.6.21.5
-------------------------------------------------------------

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