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Beginners guide to wireless network problems

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This page needs editing. See comments in the text. Many people find they are able to set up the Squeezebox with wireless connection to the Squeezebox Servers with no problems at all, just by following the instructions. However, there are several places where the setup can go wrong. The purpose of this page is to look at possible problems and how to solve them.

We need to look at the following stages.

  1. Connecting the Squeezebox to the wireless network.
  2. Connecting the Squeezebox to the computer running the Squeezebox Server.
  3. Connecting to MySqueezebox.com.
  4. Obtaining a connection of good quality.

The last of these is discussed in Second guide to wireless network problems

Contents

Connecting to a wireless network

Routers

If you are experiencing problems connecting to your wireless network, and you have not upgraded to the current version of Suqeezebox Server (Download LMS 7.7.5), I urge you to do so. The firmware is being continually improved and a large number of connectivity problems have been corrected.

Your wireless router (or access point; for convenience I refer to routers throughout) may have a speed that is faster than 802.11g, called Turbo Mode or some similar name. Such a speed is non-standard, implementation varies between manufacturers, and the Squeezebox cannot cope with it. Turn this off, and use ordinary 802.11g for the Squeezebox 2 and 3 (802.11b for Squeezebox 1 and Slim), or b+g if there are any b devices on the network.

Also some routers do not work well with the Squeezebox even in 802.11g mode, and others work with some versions of the firmware only. For more on this, see Router status.

There is no need to set up port forwarding for the 3 ports Squeezebox Server uses. This controls access to the outside world, the Internet. But Squeezebox Server and the Squeezebox are on your private network, so port forwarding will not affect Squeezebox operation or lack thereof.

IP addresses

All devices on a network have a numerical address that identifies them. This is most commonly assigned by a DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol) server, which is part of the router software.

If the Squeezebox shows an address beginning with 169 it is NOT connected to the network.

Devices automatically assign themselves an address beginning with 169 when they can't connect to the DHCP server. Usually a connection to the DHCP server will result in an address beginning with 192.168.

One simple fix in case of DHCP problems is to assign a fixed IP address. Your router may have reserved a bunch of addresses to be used for this. If not, pick one in the same range as the ones your DHCP server is handing out, but above where it is likely to reach. For example, if your PCs are getting addresses 192.168.0.2 to 192.168.0.4, try 192.168.0.15. The only disadvantage of a fixed address is that (should problems occur at some later date), you will not have the 169 clue to a failed connection.

Passwords and encryption

It is always best to have your wireless network protected by a password. The most common cause of a Squeezebox failing to join a network is that the password is incorrect. Check this first; if you are sure it is correct, check also that there are no trailing spaces in the password. You can see the trailing spaces by moving your cursor to the right of the last visible character. If you immediately get a right-pointing arrow, you have no trailing spaces. Remove any trailing spaces by pressing and holding PLAY.

Temporarily change to a simple passphrase like "123456578". If you can connect with a simple passphrase, you can connect with a more complex one - you had a character out of place. Make sure to change the passphrase back to a more complex one after this test!

If you are still having trouble, see if you can connect when all encryption is turned off. As a safety measure, you may want to disconnect the router from the internet while this is done. If you can now connect, you know that encryption is the problem. Read about encryption on the Beginners Guide To Networks page and check the Router status page for the highest level of encryption that the router and Squeezebox are happy with.

SSID

The SSID is simply a name that you give your network. This can be hidden, but is visible by default. Hiding it does not increase security because it is openly broadcast by several other means which you cannot disable. Also, it can be inconvenient to hide it. If it is not hidden, the Squeezebox will see the network automatically. If it is hidden you will have to enter the name of the network, which provides another place for a user to enter an address incorrectly.

If have hidden your SSID, and are therefore entering it manually into the Squeezebox, make sure you have the right Case - it is Case Sensitive! (FRED is not the same as fred).

MAC address filtering

Every ethernet accessable device has a permanent address, known as its MAC address. On all versions of the Squeezebox, this is printed on a label on the bottom. It is possible to set the router only to accept connections from specified MAC addresses, which provides a small amount of security. This is turned off by default, but if you turn it on then you will have to enter the Squeezebox MAC address as one that the router accepts. There is a bug in the Squeezebox firmware which can (rarely) corrupt the MAC address; this can be solved by (/how can it be solved? /)

Still having problems?

To sort through a lot of these issues, you may wish to connect temporariliy using a wired connection to your router. Use a patch cable from the Squeezebox to one of the router's LAN ports. The router LAN port light should light up. Power-cycle the Squeezebox and select "Use Ethernet connection" when you get to Network Setup. You can then sort out IP addresses and MAC address filtering without worrying about any wireless encryption for now. Once you find a working combination, you may wish to connect to Squeezebox Server, see below. Or you can reuse your IP address settings since they should now be correct and enable wireless.

Hopefully, these hints will enable you to connect the Squeezebox to the network, and the next thing is to get it to see the Squeezebox Server.

Connecting to the Squeezebox Server

Firewalls

If the Squeezebox has a satisfactory connection to the network, but still cannot see the Squeezebox Server, a likely cause is that you have a firewall that is blocking the connection.

Try disabling the firewall - for safety, disconnect the router or access point from the internet while doing this. If the Squeezebox and Squeezebox Server can now communicate, you need to set up the firewall so that, when it is active, it allows communication between them. Information about this can be found in the Squeezebox Server FAQs, which can be viewed in the Help section of the Squeezebox Server's Web page) - precise details will depend on your firewall.

IP addresses again

The IP address of your computer and Squeezebox are usually /dynamic/. This means that they can change in certain circumstances, for instance if the router is turned off or the computer is disconnected from the network and then reconnected.

If you have set up the Squeezebox using one address for the computer, and this address later changes, then it will no longer connect. You can return to the setup procedure and enter the new address (which you can find from your computer or router). But if your system is such that this may happen frequently, it is best to choose fixed adresses (as mentioned above), which will avoid these problems.

(/Do we need more about connecting to the !SBS?/)

Connecting to MySqueezebox.com

Once you have your Squeezebox communicating with your router, and your Squeezebox communicating with Squeezebox Server, what if you can't access MySqueezebox.com? You'll see a message on the Squeezebox screen reading: "Problem: can't find address for MySqueezebox.com. Press RIGHT to go on, LEFT to enter setup."

There are two items in setup which control how your Squeezebox accesses the Internet and MySqueezebox.com in particular. These are DNS server and gateway entries. All PC operating systems have commands which will indicate to you what the PC is using for DNS server and gateway. If it works for your PC, it will probably work for your Squeezebox, so you can just copy these. On Windows, go to Start - Programs - Accessories - Command Prompt and type "ipconfig".

(/Need equivalent OSX and Linux commands./)

DNS server

All resources on the Internet, including MySqueezebox.com, have numerical IP addresses. A DNS server is an Internet server, usually run by your ISP, which resolves human-readable names like mysqueezebox.com into numerical IP addresses which is what computers, including Squeezeboxes, actually use to access the Internet. If your Squeezenbox reports "Problem: can't find address for MySqueezebox.com" this indicates that it was instructed to find mysqueezebox.com but could not resolve that name into a numerical IP address.

This means:

  1. You haven't set the DNS server address properly.
  2. The DNS server is slow.
  3. The DNS server is not responding.
  4. You don't have Internet access at all.

What DNS server to use?

Most routers can be configured to act as DNS servers for your local network, so you may wish to use your router address as your DNS server. Your router will obtain DNS server addresses automatically from your ISP (note these addresses can change), and each time one of your networked devices tries to access a new address they request this data from the ISP's DNS server, passing the response on to the networked device.

However, this two-step process can sometimes be too slow for the Squeezebox since routers are usually quite underpowered.

Note some DSL and cable modems can also be used as DNS servers, but may have the same problems as routers.

If you encounter problems, enter your ISP's DNS server directly in your Squeezebox's DNS server setting. You can find your ISP's DNS server addresses in your router and/or modem configuration web page. You will usually see a primary and secondary DNS server. Use the primary address.

Gateway

This is the "gateway" on your private network to the Internet, the public network. If this is not set properly, your Squeezebox won't know which networked device to go to in order to get out to the Internet to access a DNS server, find MySqueezebox.com and start playing Internet-based music. The gateway is a device which has your internal network on one side and the Internet on the other. In almost all cases, this will be your router, so enter your router's IP address here.

Unusual network configurations may use a DSL/cable modem as a gateway or a computer with two network cards acting as an Internet bridge. Always use the address of the device which has the Internet on one side and your private network on the other.

Wireless Ad-Hoc networking

Also known as Independent Basic Service Set (IBSS) wireless networking. The Squeezebox can connect to another wireless device without a wireless router or wireless access point.

For Macintosh systems, on the Airport menu you will find a section about halfway down entitled "Computer-to-Computer Networks". Click on the "Create Network..." option, and it will walk you through the process of creating a network. Write down the SSID (network ID) you enter, so that you can be sure your other devices are connected to the correct network.

For Windows XP systems, Microsoft has a web page describing how to set up an ad-hoc network at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/networking/expert/bowman_02april08.mspx

On to part two

Now you have a connection, the next thing to consider is the quality of the connection. This is discussed in Second guide to wireless network problems.

Other Resources