Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

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Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Stephan Mending
Hi *,
I am currently building a home router based upon OpenBSD.
I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
needs to be connected over usb.
Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
it's pretty hard  to find an antenna which is connected  via USB an runs
on a supported chipset. It is  easy to get your hands on a
realtek-chipset driven device. But urtw(4) doesn't support  Host AP
mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
Finding those is hard.

Maybe you guys know things I couldn't find ?

g,
Stephan

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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Zé Loff-2

On Wed, Jan 01, 2020 at 08:54:46AM -0700, List wrote:

> Hi *,
> I am currently building a home router based upon OpenBSD.
> I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
> needs to be connected over usb.
> Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
> it's pretty hard  to find an antenna which is connected  via USB an runs
> on a supported chipset. It is  easy to get your hands on a
> realtek-chipset driven device. But urtw(4) doesn't support  Host AP
> mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
> Finding those is hard.
>
> Maybe you guys know things I couldn't find ?
>
> g,
> Stephan
>

In all honesty, and I've tried what you are aiming for a couple of times
in the past, it's just easier to get a dedicated AP (or a cheap wifi
router with a cable on the ethernet switch, which is usually bridged
with the wifi interface) and connect to an OpenBSD router which will
do all the necessary packet filtering (including keeping the AP/router's
firmware from reaching the internet, if needed be).  IMHO this will be
stabler and faster than trying to find an adequate wifi board.  And
these days you're bound to get nice perks like multiple SSIDs and
802.11ac speeds (or whatever the latest 802.11* protocol is), which
AFAIK aren't available on OpenBSD yet.  Also, note that (if I am not
mistaken) ural(4) are the only USB Wi-Fi interfaces that can handle Host
AP mode, and they only do 802.11b/g which is kind of slow by today's
standards.

--


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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Peter Nicolai Mathias Hansteen
In reply to this post by Stephan Mending

> 1. jan. 2020 kl. 16:54 skrev List <[hidden email]>:
>
> Hi *,
> I am currently building a home router based upon OpenBSD.
> I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
> needs to be connected over usb.
> Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
> it's pretty hard  to find an antenna which is connected  via USB an runs
> on a supported chipset. It is  easy to get your hands on a
> realtek-chipset driven device. But urtw(4) doesn't support  Host AP
> mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
> Finding those is hard.
>
> Maybe you guys know things I couldn't find ?
Probably not the answer you want, but anyway:

The easy way out is to buy the best possible access point you can afford, let that one handle the link-level («radio») bits, leave the TCP/IP level bits to your very capable OpenBSD box that has the access point connected directly to one of its wired Ethernet interfaces.

The important thing is that way you get support for stuff that isn’t yet supported in the OpenBSD drivers such as the newer wifi version protocols (-ac or whatever they renamed it to) while retaining control over the things that OpenBSD does better using familiar OpenBSD tools. Or as some might put it, the best of both worlds.

All the best,
Peter


Peter N. M. Hansteen, member of the first RFC 1149 implementation team
http://bsdly.blogspot.com/ http://www.bsdly.net/ http://www.nuug.no/
"Remember to set the evil bit on all malicious network traffic"
delilah spamd[29949]: 85.152.224.147: disconnected after 42673 seconds.





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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Marcus MERIGHI
In reply to this post by Stephan Mending
Hello Stephan,

[hidden email] (List), 2020.01.01 (Wed) 16:54 (CET):
> mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
> Finding those is hard.
> Maybe you guys know things I couldn't find ?

i've bought athn(4) here:
https://www.pcengines.ch/wle200nx.htm
https://www.pcengines.ch/order.htm

i am not affiliated etc...

Marcus

> Stephan

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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Sean Kamath-5
In reply to this post by Zé Loff-2
I just got a Ruckus here in the US. You can just not use any of the cloud crap on it. Has PoE which made mounting it on the ceiling trivial. The OpenBSD router stays a router, and I have so many ssid options + vlans. It’s kinda crazy.

Sean

Typed with my thumb.

> On Jan 1, 2020, at 12:39, Zé Loff <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> 
>> On Wed, Jan 01, 2020 at 08:54:46AM -0700, List wrote:
>> Hi *,
>> I am currently building a home router based upon OpenBSD.
>> I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
>> needs to be connected over usb.
>> Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
>> it's pretty hard  to find an antenna which is connected  via USB an runs
>> on a supported chipset. It is  easy to get your hands on a
>> realtek-chipset driven device. But urtw(4) doesn't support  Host AP
>> mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
>> Finding those is hard.
>>
>> Maybe you guys know things I couldn't find ?
>>
>> g,
>> Stephan
>>
>
> In all honesty, and I've tried what you are aiming for a couple of times
> in the past, it's just easier to get a dedicated AP (or a cheap wifi
> router with a cable on the ethernet switch, which is usually bridged
> with the wifi interface) and connect to an OpenBSD router which will
> do all the necessary packet filtering (including keeping the AP/router's
> firmware from reaching the internet, if needed be).  IMHO this will be
> stabler and faster than trying to find an adequate wifi board.  And
> these days you're bound to get nice perks like multiple SSIDs and
> 802.11ac speeds (or whatever the latest 802.11* protocol is), which
> AFAIK aren't available on OpenBSD yet.  Also, note that (if I am not
> mistaken) ural(4) are the only USB Wi-Fi interfaces that can handle Host
> AP mode, and they only do 802.11b/g which is kind of slow by today's
> standards.
>
> --
>  

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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

John M
In reply to this post by Stephan Mending
> I am currently building a home router based upon OpenBSD.
> I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
> needs to be connected over usb.
> Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
> it's pretty hard  to find an antenna which is connected  via USB an runs
> on a supported chipset. It is  easy to get your hands on a
> realtek-chipset driven device. But urtw(4) doesn't support  Host AP
> mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
> Finding those is hard.

Some older tp-link wireless usb sticks such as the ones that support up
to wireless N use atheros chipsets.

It may be best to look for any usb wifi devices that have some
published datasheets confirming the chipset in use, in case hardware
refreshes no longer use a suitable chipset.

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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Nick Holland
In reply to this post by Zé Loff-2
On 2020-01-01 13:42, Zé Loff wrote:

>
> On Wed, Jan 01, 2020 at 08:54:46AM -0700, List wrote:
>> Hi *,
>> I am currently building a home router based upon OpenBSD.
>> I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
>> needs to be connected over usb.
>> Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
>> it's pretty hard  to find an antenna which is connected  via USB an runs
>> on a supported chipset. It is  easy to get your hands on a
>> realtek-chipset driven device. But urtw(4) doesn't support  Host AP
>> mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
>> Finding those is hard.
>>
>> Maybe you guys know things I couldn't find ?
>>
>> g,
>> Stephan
>>
>
> In all honesty, and I've tried what you are aiming for a couple of times
> in the past, it's just easier to get a dedicated AP (or a cheap wifi
> router with a cable on the ethernet switch, which is usually bridged
> with the wifi interface) and connect to an OpenBSD router which will
> do all the necessary packet filtering (including keeping the AP/router's
> firmware from reaching the internet, if needed be).  IMHO this will be
> stabler and faster than trying to find an adequate wifi board.  And
> these days you're bound to get nice perks like multiple SSIDs and
> 802.11ac speeds (or whatever the latest 802.11* protocol is), which
> AFAIK aren't available on OpenBSD yet.  Also, note that (if I am not
> mistaken) ural(4) are the only USB Wi-Fi interfaces that can handle Host
> AP mode, and they only do 802.11b/g which is kind of slow by today's
> standards.

Agreed.
Not only does the SW/HW work better, usually the best place to put an AP
is not the best place to put a router.  My AP is in my attic, my router
is in my basement, with one chunk of CAT6 between them.  
 
Putting an important radio receiver next to a bunch of RF-noisy computers
doesn't work so hot. :)

Nick.

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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Stuart Henderson
In reply to this post by Stephan Mending
On 2020-01-01, List <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi *,
> I am currently building a home router based upon OpenBSD.
> I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
> needs to be connected over usb.
> Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
> it's pretty hard  to find an antenna which is connected  via USB an runs
> on a supported chipset. It is  easy to get your hands on a
> realtek-chipset driven device. But urtw(4) doesn't support  Host AP
> mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
> Finding those is hard.
>
> Maybe you guys know things I couldn't find ?

bwfm(4) also supports hostap on USB devices and probably has the
least-worst performance of devices that will attach directly to
OpenBSD rather than as a separate "hardware" AP.

These are Broadcom "fullmac" devices. IIRC there's a list of actual
devices using these somewhere on wikidevi.com but the site is
currently down so I can't check. The old "official raspberry pi
usb wifi" devices work, there should be some others (they're often
the only devices that work wifi dongles for some smart TVs that don't
have built-in wifi).
 
But as others have mentioned separate network devices are usually a
better way to go for APs.


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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Marcus MERIGHI
Hello,

[hidden email] (Stuart Henderson), 2020.01.02 (Thu) 13:56 (CET):

> On 2020-01-01, List <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
> > needs to be connected over usb.
> > Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
>
> bwfm(4) also supports hostap on USB devices and probably has the
> least-worst performance of devices that will attach directly to
> OpenBSD rather than as a separate "hardware" AP.
>
> These are Broadcom "fullmac" devices. IIRC there's a list of actual
> devices using these somewhere on wikidevi.com but the site is
> currently down so I can't check. The old "official raspberry pi

thanks for the pointer!

last archive.org crawl from 2019-10-31:

https://web.archive.org/web/20191031174603/https://wikidevi.com/wiki/Broadcom
https://web.archive.org/web/20191031174603/https://wikidevi.com/wiki/Broadcom#tab=Wireless_chipsets

but the links to the real-world products ("adapters") do not work.

src/sys/dev/usb/if_bwfm_usb.c has:
BCM43143, BCM43236, BCM43242, BCM43569

BCM43143 was the famous rpi usb dongle. I could not find a place to
buy it anymore. The others (BCM43236, BCM43242, BCM43569) are hiding
from me, too.

Marcus

> usb wifi" devices work, there should be some others (they're often
> the only devices that work wifi dongles for some smart TVs that don't
> have built-in wifi).
>  
> But as others have mentioned separate network devices are usually a
> better way to go for APs.

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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Stefan Sperling-5
In reply to this post by Stephan Mending
On Wed, Jan 01, 2020 at 08:54:46AM -0700, List wrote:

> Hi *,
> I am currently building a home router based upon OpenBSD.
> I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
> needs to be connected over usb.
> Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
> it's pretty hard  to find an antenna which is connected  via USB an runs
> on a supported chipset. It is  easy to get your hands on a
> realtek-chipset driven device. But urtw(4) doesn't support  Host AP
> mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
> Finding those is hard.
>
> Maybe you guys know things I couldn't find ?
>
> g,
> Stephan

Searching the web for AR9271 might turn up a working athn(4) USB device.

A brand called "ALFA networks" made devices that are plugged via a
mini-USB cable to you can place them far from your router. They also
have detachable antennas. Model no. AWUS036HNA.

That said, it's 2GHz only, and the firmware currently limits the number
of concurrent clients to 8 (apparently this limitation could be fixed).

Last I checked the USB stack still had stability issues with these devices.
Putting a self-powered USB hub between the device and your router could help.

Still, on USB, this is the best you could get.

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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Stefan Sperling-5
In reply to this post by Stuart Henderson
On Thu, Jan 02, 2020 at 12:56:13PM -0000, Stuart Henderson wrote:

> On 2020-01-01, List <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Hi *,
> > I am currently building a home router based upon OpenBSD.
> > I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
> > needs to be connected over usb.
> > Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
> > it's pretty hard  to find an antenna which is connected  via USB an runs
> > on a supported chipset. It is  easy to get your hands on a
> > realtek-chipset driven device. But urtw(4) doesn't support  Host AP
> > mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
> > Finding those is hard.
> >
> > Maybe you guys know things I couldn't find ?
>
> bwfm(4) also supports hostap on USB devices and probably has the
> least-worst performance of devices that will attach directly to
> OpenBSD rather than as a separate "hardware" AP.

bwfm(4) hostap mode has some issues still, e.g. you cannot actually
force the channel to use.

And I'm not sure whether USB devices actually support hostap.

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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

Marios Makassikis-2
In reply to this post by Stuart Henderson
On Thu, 2 Jan 2020 at 14:04, Stuart Henderson <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On 2020-01-01, List <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > Hi *,
> > I am currently building a home router based upon OpenBSD.
> > I therefore need some kind of WIFI Hardware. This piece of hardware
> > needs to be connected over usb.
> > Do you have any suggestions or recommendations ? As far as I can see
> > it's pretty hard  to find an antenna which is connected  via USB an runs
> > on a supported chipset. It is  easy to get your hands on a
> > realtek-chipset driven device. But urtw(4) doesn't support  Host AP
> > mode. Only ones that do are: athn(4),  ral(4), ath(4).
> > Finding those is hard.
> >
> > Maybe you guys know things I couldn't find ?
>
> bwfm(4) also supports hostap on USB devices and probably has the
> least-worst performance of devices that will attach directly to
> OpenBSD rather than as a separate "hardware" AP.
>
> These are Broadcom "fullmac" devices. IIRC there's a list of actual
> devices using these somewhere on wikidevi.com but the site is
> currently down so I can't check. The old "official raspberry pi
> usb wifi" devices work, there should be some others (they're often
> the only devices that work wifi dongles for some smart TVs that don't
> have built-in wifi).

wikidevi.com was shut down 2019/10/31.
My understanding is that the operator(s) provided a db dump to archive.org:
  https://archive.org/details/wikidevi

It appears the data is "living on" on techinfodepot:
  http://en.techinfodepot.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Main_Page

PJ
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Re: Hardware for Access Point on OpenBSD

PJ
Am 03.01.20 um 14:22 schrieb Marios Makassikis:
> On Thu, 2 Jan 2020 at 14:04, Stuart Henderson <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> these somewhere on wikidevi.com but
> wikidevi.com was shut down 2019/10/31.
> My understanding is that the operator(s) provided a db dump to archive.org:
>   https://archive.org/details/wikidevi
>
> It appears the data is "living on" on techinfodepot:
>   http://en.techinfodepot.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Main_Page
>
Indeed. I also didn't know that. Thank you for the info. Here's a mini
bit of background:

https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=122456

https://www.reddit.com/r/networking/comments/djpmp5/wikidevi_will_be_going_offline_20191031/

https://forum.openwrt.org/t/wikidevi-going-down-soon/45299/4

E.g. this tells us that it was (at least: kind of) planned, and with
pre-annoucement and safety-net for others to continue it.

There is also some discussion about the alternative and even alternative
alternatives, e.g. for instance:

https://wikidevi.wi-cat.ru/