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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Wireless Clients dropping, DNS Connectivity Issues

    Hoping someone can help me with this, as I've been trying to solve this issue for quite some time now...

    Basically, I am running a custom Untangle server that acts as my home's router/DHCP server and, for the most part, it works great. However, I have 3 UniFi wireless access points with static IP's and wireless clients (particularly laptop PC's) are having a hard time getting internet access. Web browsers are indicating DNS Connectivity Issues and potential configuration errors with the router etc.

    Here's my setup:

    homeNetwork.jpg

    It's pretty basic stuff, yet I have not been able to grasp why it's not working. Computers on the WiFi are almost constantly losing internet access and stating DNS connectivity issues. I've put in Google's DNS servers to override my ISP's but perhaps I've gone about that the wrong way? The firmware is up to date on all UAP's and I replaced a bad PoE adapter, hoping that was the cause, but issues persist. Not really sure where to go next.

    [SIDE NOTE]: I have one Dell laptop, a fairly recent model, that is particularly affected and I've updated the drivers, OS and antivirus but nothing has really helped. Other PC's seem better, and phones almost always work fine, but something is still not right. I had added another cheap AP to test, with it's own IP, MAC and SSID and it works perfectly. Not a network engineer by any stretch of the imagination but somewhat knowledgeable in this stuff, yet I've been at this for weeks.

    Any help is greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Untangle Ninja sky-knight's Avatar
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    If you can hard wire in, and it works while the wifi is out, the problem is your WAPs, or the connections to the WAPs. You tried another wireless solution, and that works... which means we've left the realm of Untangle. But, I'm feeling generous today, so Unifi support it is!

    If I had to throw a dart at the board and guess? It's because you've got too many WAPs, your air space is too crowded.

    Two more things you can try that I've learned the hard way on my Unifi networks... in you Unifi control panel edit the wireless network, make sure that fast roaming is DISABLED. Set your WPA mode to WPA2 only, and your Encryption to AES/CCMP Only.

    Once that's done, you should see much improved connectivity over all, if you pay attention when a wireless client drops out after that it'll likely be as you're moving around the house. This is basically your wireless client not roaming to another WAP as expected because you've got too much overlap. You'll have to reduce transmission power on your WAPs to compensate, but no amount of configuration is going to make up for a poorly installed network. That is, your WAPs are simply in the wrong places!

    This is RF engineer land, you can't just slap this crap together. Perhaps a single WAP will do, and you haven't tried yet? I've got some very large two story homes running on one Unifi WAP. If you must do two, make sure they're on opposing ends of the property. You want these things as far apart as possible, then you can start tinkering with power levels to get coverage knowing your dead spot is right in the middle.
    Last edited by sky-knight; 09-18-2019 at 09:17 AM.
    f1assistance likes this.
    Rob Sandling, BS:SWE, MCP
    NexgenAppliances.com
    Phone: 866-794-8879 x201
    Email: support@nexgenappliances.com

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the info.

    The home is large but not massive, and the AP at the center is actually a long range unit, so perhaps the airspace is just too saturated. I've not tried a single AP yet, but I'll make a note to try that as well. Each end of the home has an AP, and then there's one long-range unit in the basement (basically so we have service in the backyard). I will power down the central AP and see if that clears things up a bit.

  4. #4
    Untangle Ninja sky-knight's Avatar
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    Ewww... now THAT is valuable information...

    Lesson number 2 on Unifi I learned the hard way... NEVER and I mean NEVER use long ranged WAPs.

    Beyond that fact that you've run over yourself, and that's easily fixed by unplugging that central basement WAP. If you do put the LR WAP out in a shed or something, you're going to find that just because the WAP can get to your device, doesn't mean your device can get to the WAP! This is FM radio, and you need both transmitters to have the power required. I find that LR WAPs just make my devices think they have signal, but they have no connectivity, because again they can receive just fine from that nice loud LR radio, but they can't talk back so it doesn't matter.

    If you want to use the LR from inside to handle outside, you're going to want to put it on its own SSID and manually switch over while you're outside. Or, you're going to have to replace that thing with an exterior WAP and directional antennae.

    A map of your property with locations of the WAPs would help, but if you think about that yourself imagine all the places where the circles intersect. Standard ranged WAPs from Unifi at max power have a range of about 400ft, LR variants are 600ft. So if you draw a 400ft circle from each WAP, where do they overlap? Those are your problem spots!

    But I suspect just disconnecting that LR will make a huge dent in your interior issue.
    Last edited by sky-knight; 09-18-2019 at 09:35 AM.
    f1assistance and Jim.Alles like this.
    Rob Sandling, BS:SWE, MCP
    NexgenAppliances.com
    Phone: 866-794-8879 x201
    Email: support@nexgenappliances.com

  5. #5
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    Makes sense... I had a slight suspicion that I might be over-saturating my space but figured since they're far enough away and with multiple walls and floors between them that it would work out. I'll drop that one AP-LR and leave the two AP-Lites at each end of the home; see if that works better. Would you recommend to have static IP on the WAP's or just let Untangle manage them? I understand it shouldn't matter but figured I would ask anyway.

    Thanks again.

  6. #6
    Untangle Ninja sky-knight's Avatar
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    All of my WAPs are DHCP configured. I do that because the primary means the Unifi gear uses to find the controller is via a predefined DNS name.

    So, in Untangle config -> networking -> hostname, there's a domain name box near the top. Among other things that box defines the DNS suffix handed out by Untangle's DHCP services. Unifi devices will prepend unifi to that suffix, so for example Untangle by default has example.com in that box, Unifi devices once they have an IP address from the DHCP server, they'll get the suffix of example.com, and they'll immediately lookup unifi.example.com, and using the IP returned connect to the controller.

    You can then move to config -> networking -> DNS Server, and create a Static DNS entry for unifi.example.com, and provide an IP address of the Unifi controller. This can be a cloud key, or a system running the java controller. It doesn't matter. The point is the controller is a "server", THAT is static, the rest of the stuff finds it via the above process. So I just leave all the Unifi gear on DHCP autopilot, so I'm free to make a DHCP reservation for the controller, that DNS record in Untangle to support it, and the entire Unifi stack just sings right there behind my Untangle.

    Untangle UTM at the edge of a complete Unifi switch / WAP stack is an AMAZING solution.
    Rob Sandling, BS:SWE, MCP
    NexgenAppliances.com
    Phone: 866-794-8879 x201
    Email: support@nexgenappliances.com

  7. #7
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    Ok thanks, that's really good stuff to know. I was starting to think that the UniFi devices were just not happy without a USG!

    Omitting the long range WAP certainly improved wireless client connectivity; I think I may finally be out of the woods there. I may actually space the two remaining units further apart if anything.

    Quick question though... if I put in a static DNS entry for "unifi.mydomain.com" would I just be putting in my preferred DNS server and then removing the DNS override addresses from the WAN interface? I'm currently using Google DNS instead of my ISP and the "Connection-specific DNS suffix of all wireless endpoints is "mydomain.com." That seems correct and I know the DNS server will display as the IP of the Untangle firewall.

    Appreciate all of this input!

  8. #8
    Untangle Ninja sky-knight's Avatar
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    No, if your domain name field contains mydomain.com, you need to make a record for unifi.mydomain.com, and the IP address you stuff in there needs to be the IP address of the device that has the Unifi controller software running on it. You aren't aiming that stuff at a DNS server, you're telling the network HEY, the Unifi controller is HERE.

    The DNS you stuff into External is just telling Untangle what to use for name resolution in general, the DNS server tab overrides the general look ups in specified situations. What's on the DNS server tab gets answered first, everything else goes out to the world using what's on External. Overridden or not is irrelevant at this level, all you're doing with that is changing what Untangle uses. Which is another way to say, you can use whatever DNS you want, and what happens on the DNS server tab stays the same.

    I use this all the time for Unifi, I can have a controller on the network locally somewhere, I can even have that controller out in the Cloud! It's just an IP address that tells the unifi stuff on the network, use this thing over here! And off it goes!

    There is some layer 2 automagic crap the controller does to allow you to bypass this DNS process, and I hate it... it makes things work at odd intervals that are confusing. Once you get the DNS path online, the full Unifi stack will forever simply work. And I like my technology to just work, I've got enough work to do without chasing ghosts at home!
    Last edited by sky-knight; 09-18-2019 at 06:47 PM.
    Rob Sandling, BS:SWE, MCP
    NexgenAppliances.com
    Phone: 866-794-8879 x201
    Email: support@nexgenappliances.com

  9. #9
    Untangle Ninja jcoehoorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sky-knight View Post
    Lesson number 2 on Unifi I learned the hard way... NEVER and I mean NEVER use long ranged WAPs.
    I wouldn't go that far, but you have to know what you're doing. I've used them successfully in a few places:

    One deployment in conjunction with a pair of wifi repeaters that for two outbuildings on the far side of a yard. Should use real bridges for this, but the LR AP was easier.

    In a large-ish house where it was the only AP, it did help extend coverage some, and since it's near campus it helps devices at the house avoid trying to roam/switch onto the campus network too soon.

    Pushing signal from a window to a baseball pressbox at the far end of the park across the street, where I had a special USB wifi adapter with a long range antenna for the laptop. Our sports game day guy uses this link to stream our baseball games, and it works great. This should also be a permanent bridge, but we don't own the facility. The college shares this field with the city: city owns it, be we do most of the spring maintenance in exchange for free use of the stadium for baseball games.
    Five time Microsoft ASP.Net MVP managing a Lenovo RD330 / E5-2420 / 16GB with Untangle 14.2.2 to protect 500Mbits for ~450 residential college students and associated staff and faculty

  10. #10
    Untangle Ninja sky-knight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcoehoorn View Post
    I wouldn't go that far, but you have to know what you're doing. I've used them successfully in a few places:

    One deployment in conjunction with a pair of wifi repeaters that for two outbuildings on the far side of a yard. Should use real bridges for this, but the LR AP was easier.

    In a large-ish house where it was the only AP, it did help extend coverage some, and since it's near campus it helps devices at the house avoid trying to roam/switch onto the campus network too soon.

    Pushing signal from a window to a baseball pressbox at the far end of the park across the street, where I had a special USB wifi adapter with a long range antenna for the laptop. Our sports game day guy uses this link to stream our baseball games, and it works great. This should also be a permanent bridge, but we don't own the facility. The college shares this field with the city: city owns it, be we do most of the spring maintenance in exchange for free use of the stadium for baseball games.
    All fair points, but obviously not just buy it and use it because more range... which is what the literature makes you want to think.
    Rob Sandling, BS:SWE, MCP
    NexgenAppliances.com
    Phone: 866-794-8879 x201
    Email: support@nexgenappliances.com

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