How to Configure your "Graphite" Apple Base Station with OS 9
This short guide was written to assist folks who use "Graphite" base stations with Mac OS9. There are several additional guides on this site for other base stations and operating systems, namely: "Graphite" (OSX), "Snow" (OSX), and "Extreme" (OSX). Note: there is no Apple Admin Utility for "Extreme" base stations available for OS 9 users. You may be able to use one of the Java-based alternatives instead.
First, be sure to have the most recent Airport software (version 2.0.4) that will run on your OS (9.2.2). Among other things, it is alleged that plugging venerable "Silver" WaveLAN cards into Macs before the install also upgrades the WaveLAN firmware to the "Gold" standard, i.e. 128bit WEP. However, the cards will not benefit from this upgrade once they're put back into Graphite base stations, only when used with computers.
Be consistent in the version of the airport software on all computers that will be using the Airport network. Mismatches in versions can lead to hard-to-diagnose errors. When you upgrade a base station, also upgrade all client computers (i.e. computers that use the base station). Firmware mismatches seem to be at the root of many connection problems, and Apple has quietly released a number of Firmware upgrades in conjunction with Airport Software upgrades.
Starting the Process
Configuring the ABS is pretty easy as the information it demands from you is similar to the information the Assistant needs to configure your ABS. The only difference is that you have much better control over what the ABS will and will not do when you use the Admin Utility instead of the Assistant.
The best way to configure a ABS is via a cross-over ethernet cable to the LAN port of the ABS. That way, if the ABS has been reset to its factory default settings, the Admin utility will usually find it. If you own a Mac with a recent ethernet chip-set (Powerbook G4, for example) then you can use any ethernet cable as the chip-set will switch to cross-over mode "automagically".
After connecting the ethernet cable, locate the Apple "Airport Admin Utility" on your hard disk and launch it (be sure that this is the latest version). The Icon for the Utility should look like the one to the left. After you double-click it, the following window will appear.
To configure, start off by double clicking on your ABS name in the window admin utility. If your unit went through a complete reset or is brand-new, it will appear here as a series of hexadecimal characters that correspond to the MAC address printed on the underside of the ABS.
The admin utility will ask for a password, and unless you've changed it, it is "public". After a firmware reset, the password also reverts back to "public".
If the password query was successful, the Airport firmware will be updated as needed, followed by a reset. If you have the latest firmware already on the ABS, the utility will launch into the set-up screen. In Version 2 and below, this screen is "tabbed" and the first and default tab is "Airport".
Most users would do well to just sequentially go through the various tabs, starting with the Airport Tab. I have ordered this how-to guide to follow them left-to-right. However, I leave it to you to decide where you want to start. Besides, all tab-guides are interconnected.
Start your engines! Let's Configure:
- The Airport Tab (start here)
- The Internet Tab
- The Network Tab
- The Access Control Tab
- In OS 9,
- Open the TCP/IP control panels on the wireless computers and set to connect via "Airport". Configure using "DHCP". Close the TCP/IP control panel.
- Now open the Airport application. Select the network you want to attach to. It should be the same as the network name you entered on the Airport Tab in the Airport Admin Utility. If you "Closed" your Airport network, you will have to select "other" and type in the name you gave your network before your computer can find it (thanks Mark Mason).
- On machines attached to the wired network set the TCP/IP control panel to connect via "Ethernet" and to configure via DHCP.
- In OS X,
- You'll need to open the Network control panel. Enable Airport via the "Network Port Configurations" in the "Show" Menu if it doesn't show up by default.
- Select "Airport" from the "Show" Menu. Now click on the Airport tab to enter your login identification. For "Closed" networks, the Name will have to be entered as well.
Don't Forget to set up your client computers too!
If you elected to enable the DHCP server...
Now all machines on your network should be ready to surf immediately. I recommend you keep WEP off and your network open until you have verified that it works. Then tinker with security. If you're attaching a non-Airport computer, you'll have to derive the Network-Equivalent-Password (NEP) by selecting it from the base station menu. Entering the NEP can be tricky, as the computer has to know you're entering a hexadecimal number sequence. Depending on the OS (Mac or PC) that sequence may have to start with a "$" symbol. Some basic information on enabling WEP on non-Airport computers can be found in this Apple KB article.A separate KB article details how to enter the many different types of passwords, depending on configuration.
The Signal Strength Meter
At the bottom of the base station window is a small button labeled "Optimize Placement". Pressing on this button takes you to the following window. You can stop using the signal meter at any time by closing the window.
This window is meant to help you place the base station optimally inside your house. The signal strengths of all computers attached to the ABS will be shown, a far superior approach to placement issues than using Mac- or ClassicStumbler on a slew of machines. With this window you can see who is attached to your network, and how good their connection is. In fact, this is the ONLY way to know who is attached to your ABS... no other Apple utility reveals the identity of your users.
Curiously, Apple dropped this feature from the version 3 software. I think it's a loss because security-wise it would be nice to know when other folks have managed to penetrate your defenses. The current Airport software and firmware makes not a peep when this happens. However, there are 3rd party SNMP monitors like theAirport Monitoring Utility that requires OS 10.3 and that does not work with the "Graphite" base station.