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Building a Wide-area Linux-based Wireless Network, part 2 - page 2

Captive Portal Options

  • June 15, 2009
  • By Eric Geier

If you don't want to require the hotspot users to login or pay for the service, then using the simple Open-Mesh captive portal should be fine. After logging into your Dashboard, select the SSID #1 tab and make sure Open is marked for the Captive Portal Option. Then scroll down and mark the Enabled checkbox for the Splash Page option.

Figure 1 shows the settings for the internal captive portal.

figure 1
figure 1

Before changing any other settings, you should save these: click the Update Network Settings button on the top.

If you want to send the users to a certain Web site after they pass the splash screen, enter a address for the Redirect URL. This is useful, for example, when only displaying the terms and conditions (disclaimer) on the splash page. Then you can still display information about your business or location by taking them to your site. However, it can be very convenient for the

user if you don't use a redirect URL, as they will be automatically redirected to their home page (or the page they initially requested) instead.

Next, you can set the Client Idle Timeout and Client Force Timeout. One day (or 1440 minutes) is probably fine for both, forcing them to see the splash screen at least every 24 hours. Now you can set the download and upload limits. This is great if you are going to use the private SSID or the same Internet connection. You can try to prevent users from taking all the Internet power or speed, for you and the users' sake. For example, if you have a cable connection that runs up to 4,500 Kbits/sec, you might set the throttle to 400 Kbits/sec, giving the hotspot users speeds compared to traditional DSL connections.

You probably want to leave the Access Control List alone, unless you want to have complete control over who connects. This requires logging into the Dashboard and inputting the MAC address of a device every time you want a new one to connect.

Before you leave the main SSID #1 page, be sure to click the Update Network Settings button on the top to save the settings.

figure 2
figure 2

The default splash page template is pretty slick looking, as you can see in Figure 2. However, it is fully customizable and there's a built-in editor. Click the Edit Splash Page button. Then you can make text and formatting changes to the default template, use the tools to make one from scratch, or paste HTML code into the editor when in the Source view. You can't include images or content from the Internet or link to items on the Web since access is blocked until the user passes the splash page. Most captive portals have a walled garden feature where you can input domains to unblock, however, this simple one doesn't. Nevertheless, you can include images or media by uploading it via the editor.

Stay tuned--in the remaining part, we'll experiment the CoovaOM captive portal. Then before we do the install, we'll look into a Web filtering solution.

Eric Geier is an author of many computing and networking books, including Home Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley 2008) and 100 Things You Need to Know about Microsoft Windows Vista (Que 2007).


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