Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Making a ruckus

Well, using one anyway - we have finally switched to a Ruckus AP in the office.

We have gone for their entry level, two band, ZoneFlex 7363 model from LinITX, who were very quick and efficient, and it was on my desk 9am next day.

This is a module that can work stand alone (i.e. without a separate Zone Controller) and is more than enough to cover an office of our size.

First impressions are not good but this is primarily because of the web interface. It is unbelievably slow, and has a horrid way of working - every form appears blank, and several seconds later (even if you have filled in several of the fields) changes to have the initial values loaded (zapping what you have typed). It makes any configuration really painful. It also takes an age to boot.

In some ways I am slightly spoilt by using a FireBrick - boots in a fraction of a second and web interface is nice and snappy. But still, this ruckus web interface is hard to use and frustrating.

It is a let down, because technically it is looking good - 2.4GHz and 5GHz each with 8 separate SSIDs which can be linked to VLANs and a load of features we're not using (RADIUS authentication, L2TP tunnels, etc). The coverage for the office is good even from the one AP. The main advantage is associations and coverage - the apple APs were not quite as good covering the office, and only did 50 associations - some APs do as few as 12. With many staff having 3 or more WiFi devices on their person, and training courses, and so on, a good AP is worth while.

But the whole idea of an entry level device is something that looks really impressive and introduces you to the product range - makes you want to expand to the bigger and more expensive boxes. At that, the web interface is a total fail.

My colleagues are telling that nobody uses the web interface - they use a zone controller. But this is meant to be usable stand-alone - that is the idea of an entry level device. It may well be that nobody in Ruckus ever uses them stand alone and that is why they don't realise how bad it really is.

Anyway, lets see how it goes - we have turned off the apple APs (which are good) and we are using the Ruckus. We had 4 apple APs, so this is not that much more expensive as solution. Time will tell how well it really works with a range of devices.

I suspect this will make a good product to recommend with our Office::1 package.

I now have to resist the temptation to do loads of joke SSIDs on the spare config slots. It has some annoying validation on SSID which won't let me do a Dr.Who SSID, and I have yet to work out how to bypass that.

Oh, and of course, it goes without saying, it does IPv6 :-)

P.S. the CLI (via ssh) is quick...


  1. Sounds like the Cisco APs. They're fine on a controller, or configured by SSH, but the web interface is nearly unusable.

    As all ours are on controllers it doesn't matter that much to me, but it is annoying on the rare occasion I want to generate a config for a standalone AP.

  2. Probably too late for you now, but the Ubiquiti UniFi range is pretty nice.

    Their UAP-Pro is dual-band, and while it requires you to run a server (Java-based, so Linux / Windows / OSX) for installation, if you're not using things like the captive portal for guest access, you don't need to leave it running.

    It'll also do VLANs, multiple SSIDs and so on, and the Pro version is 3x3 MIMO on 2.4GHz, so 450Mbps aggregate throughput on 2.4GHz plus 300Mbps on 5.8GHz.

    (No connection to Ubiquiti, but a happy UAP-LR customer...)

  3. I tried the Dr Who SSID thing but it didn't work.. I could easily switch off the (javascript) validation on the Unifi, but neither Windows or Android were happy with the resultant SSID string.. Windows described it as 'unknown'.

    Never thought of the android hotspot though - that worked better, but windows now thinks it's a collection of random characters - it doesn't do unicode at all.

  4. Thanks for the blog ping back. Based on the comments, lots of routers block "odd" characters via their web interface. May be worth seeing if you can set it if you're SSH'd in?


  5. Thanks for the ping-back. Based on the comments on my blog, lots of web interfaces block "odd" characters. IT may be worth seeing if you can set them when SSH'd in.
    Alternatively, if you have a Chinese / Japanese firmware it may allow unicode that way.

  6. Cisco 1231s do the same on the web interface with Chrome browser, seem OK in IE.
    I've ordered Microtik kit from LinITX and yes they are pretty spot on.

  7. Are you sure you're on the latest rev, Rev? HTTP interface is much better and makes more sense in the latest release for the 7363 (v9.

    1. First thing I tried - and the upgrade feature says it has an invalid control file and does not work.

    2. I had to ask the sales chaps for the correct file, it wasn't available to download.

  8. I had to download the latest from the website and then upload it locally. web gui seems a little faster.

    But very happy with the range and performance of mine (thanks to IRC' #A&A Chaos for supplying)

  9. Have you tried the RouterBoard/Microtik stuff (also available via LinITX). I built an AP (rather than "router") with one and it was ace. Proper stuff, proper cheap. Their IPv6 support is (was??) somewhat lacking tho' but I guess that's only a problem for the config port when you're in AP mode without RADIUS.

  10. +1 for Unifi

    Have also received excellent service from LinITX.

    Xclaim are worth a gander. These are aimed at small business, same hardware as the zone flex AP with hobbled firmware. App configuration is dire, but the basic web interface is OK. There one can define VLAN tags to SSID mappings and basic wireless parameters.

    Coverage and reliability is good. Setup in all of 30 seconds. POE widget in the box to boot. My inner nerd is however frustrated by the lack of options to tweek.