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Safely Sharing Your Wireless Internet With CoovaAP, Part I - page 2

CoovaAP: Based on OpenWRT

  • March 16, 2009
  • By Eric Geier

The first step is to round up a wireless router. If you have an old Linksys G router (WRT54G/GL/GS) sitting around gathering dust, grab it. Other wireless routers with a Broadcom chipset should work as well. If you aren't sure of a router's chipset type, you can refer to the Router-Database for DD-WRT, a more popular and general firmware replacement.

Next, you want to download the correct CoovaAP firmware image. On CoovaAP's main page, you'll find links to images for the popular Linksys models and to other brands that require specific firmware. From there you can also download the raw Broadcom TRX image for other routers.

Now you need to upload or flash the firmware to the router. Specifically how to do this depends on the router model. On Linksys routers, you should be able to use their firmware upgrade page on the web-based utility. For other routers, such as those from Buffalo Technology, you might have to use the TFTP method. Coova doesn't provide a great deal of installation help on their site, however you can get hints from the install notes for DD-WRT.

Warning: Be careful when messing with the firmware! Making a mistake can brick the router, rendering it useless.

Configuring basic settings

After applying the CoovaAP firmware, the router should reboot and start broadcasting the Coova SSID. You need to connect over wireless or wire and bring up the web-based utility by entering its IP address (192.168.1.1) into a browser. The username to login is always root. The first time, you'll be prompted to set a password.

Note: If the network name isn't Coova or you're having other strange issues, such as not getting an IP address when connecting, the nvram (memory) might have not been erased completely before the firmware upgrade. Thus, you can try to reset the nvram manually. To do so, log into the router with SSH, via the router IP address (192.168.1.1). You can download PuTTY, a free SSH client. Once logged in, enter mtd -r erase nvram. After rebooting, all the default CoovaAP settings should be loaded.

Before hitting the Hotspot tab to configure the cool features, you might want to get the basics done first on the System and Network tabs. We'll discuss a few important settings. First, on the System/Settings tab (see Figure 3), you should enable the boot_wait feature, which gives you the ability to recover the router with TFTP later if CoovaAP becomes corrupted. On the Network/WAN page, configure your Internet settings if required, such as for DSL or static IP connections. On the Network/Wireless tab (see Figure 4), you can choose a more descriptive and fitting ESSID or network name. You might also want to enable the Isolate WLAN clients feature, to help protect unsuspecting users from sharing their laptop's files to others.

Tip: If you plan to regularly use the network and share files among your computers, you could leave the isolation feature off. Then to protect your files, use the sharing and file (NTFS) permissions to restrict access. Alternatively, when configuring the hotspot settings, you could choose to deny hotspot users to access the LAN or wired connections. Thus for your private network, you can plug the computers into the Ethernet ports. You could even plug in an extra wireless router or AP (configured with encryption) for private Wi-Fi access.


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