Posted by pete on 11th February 2007
The other day I was over at the Apple Store picking up a replacement power support for Lisa’s MBP. (I have no idea how she managed to fray this one, what with the mag-safe and all, but she did….) Anyway, while there, I saw the Airport Extreme and, well, it was too powerful.
The next day, I plugged it into our home network. It’s a pretty nifty little box. Nicely designed and packaged. I’ve never worked with one of Apple’s Airport base stations, so setup was a complete mystery to me. I knew what I wanted, but I wasn’t sure how difficult it’d be to do. I’ve already to a Linksys WRT54GS v2 running OpenWRT. This is my main gateway device and sits connected to our cable modem. I still wanted the WRT to serve as our non-802.11n AP and do all the normal stuff it’s been doing, but I wanted to be able to connect to the Airport Extreme with all 802.11n devices, such as my MBP and the soon-to-arrive Apple TV. In other words, I wanted it to run in bridge mode, with WPA2 PSK encryption, MAC filtering, and no beaconing.
While in the process of trying to set up the Airport Extreme, I messed up the WRT. It seems that I missed the recent release announcement, so when I updated the packages on it, things got all hinky and the wireless part stopped working. Luckily, I had the Extreme, so I quickly replicated the WRT’s wireless settings and Lisa was back online wirelessly. I waited until she was done, then went about applying the appropriate updates to the WRT. After it was back online, I, once again set the Extreme up the way I originally wanted it.
Of course, this is when I notice that the Airport Extreme has support for profiles. Had I known ahead of time, I could have put our default config in one profile and a “mimic the WRT” config in another and switch them back and forth. Easy-peasy.
Overall, I’m very happy with the Airport Extreme. It’s a nice, flexible base station. I don’t think its flexibility comes anywhere near that of the WRT54GS running OpenWRT, but as a stock base station, it’s the ginchy-ist and in the not-too-distant future, I can see us adding an external USB hard drive for easy backups.