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View Full Version : Need a CHEAP internet cafe type program


acheron800
04-13-2010, 5:52 PM
Family owned hotel, we are having a new "router" computer setup, sick of netgears failing parts.

I need a program which can easily change internet passcodes (wifi) every month or so, and handle up to 50 users.

Thanks for any input.

And I mean cheap as in free or very close to it! LOL

ocabj
04-13-2010, 6:04 PM
Easiest to do is get a WAP that supports DD-WRT and run chillispot captive portal.

One access point to handle 50 simultaneous users? While in theory it should handle it, in practice, a consumer grade (store bought) WAP probably won't handle that many simultaneous connections.

bigmike82
04-13-2010, 6:43 PM
Just spend the $500 for a Cisco 1242, and never worry about it again.

Changing the key is easy...any WAP will allow you to easily change the key.

If you want to spend more money, you can start looking into some NAC solutions, but that's going to be a lot more complicated for you to manage.

acheron800
04-13-2010, 8:25 PM
Easiest to do is get a WAP that supports DD-WRT and run chillispot captive portal.

One access point to handle 50 simultaneous users? While in theory it should handle it, in practice, a consumer grade (store bought) WAP probably won't handle that many simultaneous connections.

Maybe I shouldnt have said 50, we have 50 rooms, so I would say around 10-15 max simutaneously.

My IT guy was telling me I should buy antamedia hotspot. Any thing good or bad? Its $300

bigmike82
04-13-2010, 8:34 PM
Acheron, how important is it to you to give each guest their own login?

A place I slept at once had a regulare, WEP-secured AP for all the guests to use. You'd receive the WEP key on request. If you rotate the key on a monthly/bi-monthly basis, it should work just fine.

Under these circumstances, I would just buy a few *good* APs, secure 'em with WEP, and call it a day. Doing it that way will reduce your support costs greatly for this system.

http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/default.aspx?EDC=1816490

I love these things. Yeah, you can use DD-WRT/Open-WRT on a Linksys, and have it work as well, but the stability of Cisco APs is unmatched by anything else that I've seen.

acheron800
04-13-2010, 9:02 PM
Acheron, how important is it to you to give each guest their own login?

A place I slept at once had a regulare, WEP-secured AP for all the guests to use. You'd receive the WEP key on request. If you rotate the key on a monthly/bi-monthly basis, it should work just fine.

Under these circumstances, I would just buy a few *good* APs, secure 'em with WEP, and call it a day. Doing it that way will reduce your support costs greatly for this system.

http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/default.aspx?EDC=1816490

I love these things. Yeah, you can use DD-WRT/Open-WRT on a Linksys, and have it work as well, but the stability of Cisco APs is unmatched by anything else that I've seen.

They dont need to have their own login, just one broad login that could be changed easily, or reset by one of the less techie front desk people.

We had a netgear thing (sorry dont know what it was) but it was $400 and it was the 3rd one I bought in 3 years, so my IT guy said to build a cheap router computer (i think i paid him $300) and put a program on it and it would be more reliable and not fail (as often).

I think he was going to go the route of the open source program one of you posted earlier, but said it was a bit too complicated for us lay-men.

So he suggested the software. The antamedia is $300 up to $450 just for the software so I was looking for something cheaper.

Right now it is a free for all and since we have an old folks home behind us and residential in front of us, it is taxing our bandwidth hard, i cant put a password on the router because we those antennas around the premises and they each have their own little router, so I would have to go around and program each one.

The cisco unit looks interesting, it seems as though it does the same thing as our netgear unit did, but if you say its reliable, I will ask my IT if maybe we should go that route. But then again that would set me back my initial cost of the server-router computer.


Thanks for the input

ETA: Is the cisco unit just an antenna? Or does it route the wi fi to other antennas as well?

The netgear unit we had, had a personal webpage popup when you entered our network, and there we would give them a personal user/pass. Does that do the same thing?

Sorry im a noob.

bigmike82
04-13-2010, 9:24 PM
No worries.

That Cisco I posted is just the Access Point. No antenna, no special software, just the AP and the IOS (Cisco's operating system). You can find them for much cheaper on ebay. Combined with a few high-gain antennas, you'll be all set.

I used to manage the wireless in a three story apartment complex, and the biggest lesson I learned was that you absolutely need reliable APs. Anything else will kill you in the long run.

How many access points do you have, in total? Do you have a property layout?

acheron800
04-13-2010, 9:32 PM
No worries.

That Cisco I posted is just the Access Point. No antenna, no special software, just the AP and the IOS (Cisco's operating system). You can find them for much cheaper on ebay. Combined with a few high-gain antennas, you'll be all set.

I used to manage the wireless in a three story apartment complex, and the biggest lesson I learned was that you absolutely need reliable APs. Anything else will kill you in the long run.

How many access points do you have, in total? Do you have a property layout?

I have 6 access points (antennas im assuming) 2 stories, one city block, but spread out. 3 of those are in one building because the whole building is brick, and its tough to get good signal in the rooms. No layout.

bigmike82
04-13-2010, 10:32 PM
Hmm....that'd get pricey, replacing all 6. That's what I'd do, just based on past experience.

How are they tied together? Do all 6 APs have a hard-wired connection, or are they bridged wirelessly?

JDay
04-13-2010, 11:36 PM
Under these circumstances, I would just buy a few *good* APs, secure 'em with WEP, and call it a day. Doing it that way will reduce your support costs greatly for this system.

If you use WEP you might as well not use anything at all, you can crack it in 30 seconds to a few minutes. WPA-PSK is the minimum you want if you expect any kind of security. Do not use WPA-TKIP since it can be cracked too. DD-WRT running Chilispot would be a good idea.

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JDay
04-13-2010, 11:42 PM
I think he was going to go the route of the open source program one of you posted earlier, but said it was a bit too complicated for us lay-men.

DD-WRT uses a simple web interface and is documented quite well on its website. Here's the Chillispot documentation, I'd get a Linksys WRT54GL to install this firmware on and then you can always setup a repeater if you need to extend the range.

http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Chillispot

http://www.mandladventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/7_dd-wrt_iterface.jpg

socalblue
04-14-2010, 12:15 AM
If the access points work OK then a cheap PC with pfSense (Open source & very good) is all you need.

I do this for a living, with sites all over the world. You can use a commercial gateway like AntLabs or Nomadix but why waste the $$ in your environment?

bigmike82
04-14-2010, 7:36 AM
"If you use WEP you might as well not use anything at all, you can crack it in 30 seconds to a few minutes."
*Yawn*

No, it doesn't provide security, but it keeps out grandma, grandpa, and the kids/adults who don't know how to use Backtrack well enough to crap WEP. Which is still much better than how it is now. ;)

Steve G
04-14-2010, 8:49 AM
Cisco systems

acheron800
04-14-2010, 11:52 AM
"If you use WEP you might as well not use anything at all, you can crack it in 30 seconds to a few minutes."
*Yawn*

No, it doesn't provide security, but it keeps out grandma, grandpa, and the kids/adults who don't know how to use Backtrack well enough to crap WEP. Which is still much better than how it is now. ;)

Yes this is just to prevent basic users from taxing our bandwidth.

The APs are all hardwired together.

bigmike82
04-14-2010, 12:34 PM
"The APs are all hardwired together."
Outstanding.

Yeah, in that case I would just buy 6 1242s, a high-gain antenna for each, and call it a day. Resetting the WEP password can be done either via a web interface, or via the command line. Your IT guy can do it in ten minutes via remote access. And if he can't, find a new one. ;)

Bug Splat
04-14-2010, 1:13 PM
Get a few Meraki's! By far the easiest and cheapest solution, trust me. I have set up hundreds of not over 1000 hotspots over the years. I have done large concerts and week long festivals and Meraki is the easiest to use. Just drop them anywhere and they auto connect together forming a mash network. Everything is controlled/monitored online via a website and changes can be made form anywhere. Check it out.

http://meraki.com

bigmike82
04-14-2010, 1:32 PM
Ooooh, those look cool.

What's the pricing for them?

JDay
04-15-2010, 3:28 AM
"If you use WEP you might as well not use anything at all, you can crack it in 30 seconds to a few minutes."
*Yawn*

No, it doesn't provide security, but it keeps out grandma, grandpa, and the kids/adults who don't know how to use Backtrack well enough to crap WEP. Which is still much better than how it is now. ;)

There are point and click windows WEP cracking tools too. Its also much easier to tell users a WPA password than to give them a long 64 or 128 bit WEP key to type in. Not to mention you won't have to deal with people who select the wrong slot to put the key in (there's 4 options).

bigmike82
04-15-2010, 8:27 AM
"Its also much easier to tell users a WPA password than to give them a long 64 or 128 bit WEP key to type in."
Not if you use an easy to remember ASCII version. I've never given out the actual hex value...I've always generated the hex with an ASCII value. Never had a problem with clients remembering WEP keys.

On an additional note, WEP is still more widely supported and easier for the client to use. There are Wireless NICS that crap bricks when you try to put any sort of sustained traffic through them using WPA. WEP they don't have a problem with.

Again, the point is simply to keep out a base denominator of rif-raf. It's not designed to actually implement security.

Bug Splat
04-15-2010, 10:13 AM
Ooooh, those look cool.

What's the pricing for them?

I think its around $150 per device. Price has gone up. I used to buy them for $75. Either way its a hell of a deal. Very smart devices and the map feature is great. You can view who is on what device and how much traffic they are using. Turn on the splash page and you can advertise special events or just welcome your customer and thank them for staying. No special software to run or dedicated machine since its all done from Meraki's site. You log onto their site and make your changes there. The meraki devices find their way to the internet on their own and download any changes you made from the site. It is a simplest plug and play Wifi setup I have ever seen. Make a change on the site and it auto updates every device you have. Have a dead spot at your place? just throw another Meraki there and it will auto mesh with your other devices via WIFI in seconds