I recieved my Airport Express last tuesday and had it installed as a wireless audio connection for my stereo in a couple of minutes as follows:
- Plug the Airport Express in a wall outlet.
- (Temporarily) connect it to the network using an UTP cable
- Run the Airport Administration utility (forget the wizzard, it will not allow you to setup the airport as a client).
- Setup the Airport Express to connect to your existing network (which was WEP encrypted at that time)
- Unplug the Airport Express, take it to the living room and plug it into an outlet, and connect it to the stereo (look ma, no wires!)
- Select the airtunes to be used as speaker device in iTunes and you’re all set
So far, so good. I’ve enjoyed listening to my mp3’s in the living room for a few days. I can see my Mac mini from the couch, and I can read the frontrow screen with the nice cover art, and can control playback with the apple remote. I also noted that I can select to use the Airport Extreme as well as the speakers connected to the mac simultaniously. The music is actually synchronized, so there is no “echo” when playing music from both speaker sets. Nice!
Today I decided to upgrade the encryption of the access point in the living room to WPA2 (or WPA with AES Rijndael encryption and reloading key groups every 5 minutes for the nerds out there). My Linksys WAP45G supports this, as well as all the wifi hardware I currently own (I checked). Everything was converted to WPA2 pretty easy, until I came to my new shiny toy, the Airport Extreme.
I spent this whole evening trying to get it connect as a client to the WPA2 network, but to no avail. Other people are reporting similar problems. It just sits there blinking it’s amber light. Luckaly I have an ethernet cable available near the stereo (network everywhere! wohoo!) so I decided to give up and connect the Airport Extreme to the network by cable. So now everything is working again
The disadvantage I have right now is that I can not use the Airport Extreme anywhere in the house without wires. I’m not downgrading my security for now, I hope Apple solves this problem in a future release of the Airport Express firmware. They are usually pretty fast with fixes so I’m not that worried (yet).
More info on WEP, WPA and WPA2 can be found on wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Protected_Access. And NO, WPA2 is NOT easy to crack, like I read on some forums. Damned wisenose hoax-starting scriptkiddies.
Still not convinced? From an article about AES on Wikipedia:
“The design and strength of all key lengths of the AES algorithm (i.e., 128, 192 and 256) are sufficient to protect classified information up to the SECRET level. TOP SECRET information will require use of either the 192 or 256 key lengths. The implementation of AES in products intended to protect national security systems and/or information must be reviewed and certified by NSA prior to their acquisition and use.”
So there. AES with 192 bit keys are secure enough for TOP SECRET documents for the US governement. Secure enough for your home? I guess so!
Sidestep: I noted this little “how to” on my desktop on how to set up the mac mini fileserver . I guess I need to finish that, since it is very intresting to see how simple it is to setup a quiet, low power fileserver with versioned backups, CVS server and the added security of the OSX operating system, for just over 300 Euros. I hope you’ll be able to read about it soon on this blog.