How often do you read rants about wireless access points? Probably not too dreadfully often as they are usually pretty straight forward. It’s a pretty mature technology and everybody usually has a decent setup. Sure there are problems with various models but most of those are at least hardware related.
Well here is my official rant dealing with the Airport Extreme Base Station. The thing seriously sucks all kinds of monkey balls.
First of all the problems I experienced with the Airport Extreme are not hardware related. I’ve had this access point for a couple of years now and it’s always worked well enough on the hardware side of things. This problem is a software related issue. Namely Apple made some really boneheaded mistakes.
The main problem here is there are so many stupid fuck ups with this product I’m not sure where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the access point’s complete inability to route any traffic to an external network that doesn’t have an IP address that falls into the access point’s DHCP range. Let’s say you setup the Airport Extreme to dole out DHCP addressed between the ranges of 10.0.1.2 and 10.0.1.200, the default settings when using a 10.x.x.x address scheme for your network. Now let’s say you give a server the IP address of 10.1.0.1. You have effectively cut that server off from the Internet because the Airport Extreme won’t route any traffic to an external network unless said traffic originates from an IP address between 10.0.1.2 and 10.0.1.200. Yup it just flat out refuses to do it. This effectively means you must layout your network’s address scheme to fit what the access point wants instead of what you want. Brilliant! This little undocumented (as far as I could find) issue cost me a couple of hours when I was trying to get my VPN server running.
Did I mention you can’t change the second quad in the DHCP address range? Yup if you want a 10.x.x.x address it has to be 10.0.x.x and only 10.0.x.x. I wanted all computers that received a DHCP address to be in the range of 10.253.0.0. Well you can’t do that if you’re using an Airport Extreme to dole out DHCP addresses.
Well a simple enough solution would be to simple disable the DHCP functionality on the access point and setup a DHCP server on a computer, perhaps one that’s acting as a VPN server already. Good luck doing that if you still want to have NAT capabilities. Yes I actually want to use NAT for my network even though I despise NAT. Why? Because it allows me to forward different traffic to different computers without needing more static IP addresses (which I pay extra for). See the Airport Extreme has three operating modes; one that has DHCP enabled with NAT, one with only DHCP mode, and bridged mode which disabled DHCP. There is no way that I found to have DHCP disabled with NAT running. It’s a pretty simple concept and Apple doesn’t seem to be able to grasp it.
Seriously what the fuck? A cheap Linksys can do that! The rule of thumb should be if a cheap Linksys access point can do something your more expensive product should be able to do the exact same fucking thing and more.
If you’re looking for a nice wireless access point steer clear of the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station. The only positive thing I have to say about it is… well my Wii, which is finicky as all Hell, actually connects to the Airport Extreme. But that’s really it.