So I checked and discovered that my MacBook already knew how to talk 802.11n without me paying the $1.29 or whatever for the enabler. That meant I had to go out and get an Airport Extreme base station, it was almost compulsory, I swear.
It certainly is fast and seems to work with the MacBook a lot better than the old Linksys. It also connects flawlessy with the Wii so it seems obvious to me that the wireless problems I was having were the old LinkSys rather than the devices, though I did have to change the channel being used from the default “1” on the Extreme so perhaps it was just RF clutter for the LinkSys – I do have somewhere between five and eleven wireless nets in my neighbourhood.
Setting it up is a breeze. Apple’s “Airport” utility has improved in the latest version and the Extreme has a good bunch of smarts. I tried sharing a printer and a hard drive hung off the Extreme’s USB port and both worked well.
Making it the same form factor as the Mini is also smart. If I can find a nice sized hard drive with the same factor I think I’ll stack them and create a marvelous device.
The most difficult part was designing and building the net. Since I use Telstra cable the Extreme couldn’t take care of login by itself. That meant the LinkSys had to continue doing that so the Extreme hangs of it. OK, first turn off wireless on the LinkSys. The next problem was getting the right IP addresses to the wireless clients while still allowing hard connections to the LinkSys. So set up the DHCP in the LinkSys to serve out xx.xx.xx.50 to 100 and the Extreme to serve out 101 to 200. The give the Extreme a fixed address at .2 and the home server (the Mac Mini) at .3 attached to the LinkSys. That set up works fine but took about three attempts, I also seemed to have problems with the Extreme not answering DHCP requests from devices plugged into its Ethernet ports. This requires a little more exploration.