Wireless Problems

We’ve been having all sorts of problems with our new Aruba wireless system this school year. Though they never lose signal strength, our clients can’t seem to stay connected. So Aruba sent down one of their top engineers, and we’ve been working closely with him for the last two days. Now, after all the configurations are checked, it seems like the problem is in the wireless drivers in Mac OS X 10.4.10. Clients that work fine under 10.4.9 have serious issues when they’re upgraded. The same clients also work fine when booted with Windows XP. Right now, we’re in the final stages of testing this, but if it pans out, you can be sure that I’ll be raising hell with Apple.

If you happen to have a Mac that’s exhibiting wireless problems—and we’ve been having problems with PPC and Intel Macs—try the following: enter “ping -i 5 one.of.your.servers” (within the quotes, and substituting an appropriate IP address). The problem seems to be caused by the wireless cards falling into sleep mode every 10 seconds or so. Running a ping every 5 seconds keeps them awake, and thereby solves the problem.

I’ll post more when we’ve wrapped up our tests.

Update 10/10/07
Well, I spoke with my Apple engineer, and he was actually happy to hear the news. He’s got another client with a different enterprise wireless system that’s having the exact same problem. We’re hoping that 10.4.11 solves the problem. In the meantime, I’ll write an installer for a launchd agent that runs ping every few seconds.

Update 10/17/07
So far, so good w/ the launchd agent. It’s really cleared up the mess for most of our users, and seems to have improved connectivity for other wireless users who haven’t installed the agent. Aruba filed a case w/ Apple, and so did we. The cases have been linked, and they’re now being looked at by Apple’s System Engineers—so hopefully there will be a fix soon.

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Tom McNicholas #

    Hey paul,

    I found your blog some time ago regarding OS9 to OSX printing issues, and I still check it every so often. I’m interested to hear how your wireless woes get resolved by Apple.


  2. 2

    Thanks for your interest. I’m assuming that you followed me here from one of my old postings on MacOSXHints. This new site is just me venting about my various projects. Hopefully, it’ll grow more useful as I start putting up some actual technical details. But we’ll just have to wait and see.

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