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Wireless Networks Thread, Netbooks + Wireless + Active Directory Logins in Technical; Hello! The school I worked for purchased about 500 Dell Inspiron 1010 netbooks for use in several of our classrooms. ...
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    Netbooks + Wireless + Active Directory Logins

    Hello!

    The school I worked for purchased about 500 Dell Inspiron 1010 netbooks for use in several of our classrooms. We are assigning 26 netbooks per classroom, and each classroom will have its own wireless access point. We imaged all these netbooks with Windows XP Pro SP3, and after the netbooks are imaged, they are moved into an OU in Active Directory for the classroom they will be in. The OU has a GPO assigning that room's AP to the netbooks.

    We're noticing, however, that the majority (most, but not all) of these netbooks will not connect to the wireless AP until after a user logs in. If the user is at the login screen, the computer will not connect to the wireless network. This is a huge problem for us - we use Active Directory for user authentication, but if the connection is unavailable, they can not communicate with the domain controller, and thus can not log in.

    So basically we're stuck in a loop here - user can not log in until they authenticate with the domain controller, user can not authenticate with the domain controller until they have a network connection, user can not have a network connection until they log in.

    I confirmed that the wireless adapter is not available at the login prompt by pinging it with a desktop computer. When I pinged the wireless adapter's IP while the netbook's at the login prompt, the pings will time out. However, once I log in (either over a wired connection or by using a local account), the wireless adapter starts responding to pings. Log back out, and it starts dropping pings again.

    So I'm looking for a way to reliably get these devices to connect to the wireless networks at the login screen, so the users will be able to connect with the domain controller and log in. I've tried a number of things:
    • Installing updates via WSUS.
    • Going to device settings and modifying the device power settings.
    • Using GPO to test both enabling and disabling "Always wait for network connection to be active".
    • Multiple access points (to rule out a bad AP).


    And yet none of these tricks have worked. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Specs, if necessary:
    • OS: Windows XP Pro SP3
    • Model: Inspiron 1010
    • Wireless adapter: Dell Wirless 1397 WLAN Mini-card
    • Wireless SSIDs hidden
    • No wireless security
    • Wireless APs: Cisco WAP4410N
    • Server (AD, DHCP, DNS): Windows 2003 R2 SP2
    • Wireless util: Windows Zero Conf
    • If any other details are necessary, please ask.

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    Cue
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    You could probably condense that title into simply 'Hell'.

    Have you tried it without them hidden? I wouldn't actually recommend having them hidden anyway, wireless devices will broadcast constantly while finding a wireless AP, and they'll be shouting out its name, so instead of having one device shouting out for "MY-WIFI-SSID", you'll have 26 shouting it out at once, there's a nice explanation here on why hidden SSIDs are a bad idea.

    But yeah, try not hiding it and see what happens then.

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    unhide the SSID like cue said and always join domain on Wifi never cable.. XP some times has problems at boot accessing wifi if joined to domain on cable it will look for cable 1st then wifi taking longer to connect, Also get windows Wifi manager to manage the wifi never a 3rd party one like Intel Wifi Manager

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    If you are using the Dell wireless management program use Add and Remove programs to modify the install. There is usually a "pre-logon connection" utility which isn't installed as default. I usually un-install the management program and just leave the drivers, allowing Windows to manage it.

  5. Thanks to clareq from:

    JoeyH (17th August 2010)

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    Ok, I'll give unhiding the SSIDs a shot, definitely worth a try. Thanks

    One thing I forgot to mention originally though, the first two batches of netbooks we imaged connected to their wireless networks (still with hidden SSIDs) without issue, and logged in effortlessly. It wasn't until the later batches that we started having issues.

    However, the first two batches were also imaged a week earlier than the later ones. So if during that week, someone living nearby the school (within wireless range) setup a wireless network (with a visible SSID), would it be possible that the subsequent batches were noticing this visible network, and refusing to connect to the hidden one because of it? We never actually did do a check for other wireless networks within the range.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cools View Post
    unhide the SSID like cue said and always join domain on Wifi never cable.. XP some times has problems at boot accessing wifi if joined to domain on cable it will look for cable 1st then wifi taking longer to connect, Also get windows Wifi manager to manage the wifi never a 3rd party one like Intel Wifi Manager
    The wireless network settings are applied via GPO, the netbooks will not know which wireless network to connect to unless they are already on the domain.

    Quote Originally Posted by clareq View Post
    If you are using the Dell wireless management program use Add and Remove programs to modify the install. There is usually a "pre-logon connection" utility which isn't installed as default. I usually un-install the management program and just leave the drivers, allowing Windows to manage it.
    We just are using the drivers - when we built the image, we did not install any wireless utilities. Are you recommending using the Dell utility, or not using it?

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    Don't use the Dell utility - it always seems to cause problems.

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    use the dell utility - sorted one h*ll of a lot a problems i was having on various laptops

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    Quote Originally Posted by clareq View Post
    Don't use the Dell utility - it always seems to cause problems.
    Quote Originally Posted by jamesreedersmith View Post
    use the dell utility - sorted one h*ll of a lot a problems i was having on various laptops
    and therin lies part of the problem sometimes wifi utils are helpful others not so. Its worth making sure the pc are set not to look for ad hoc connection and that they are set to always wait for network at startup

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    Quote Originally Posted by sted View Post
    and therin lies part of the problem sometimes wifi utils are helpful others not so. Its worth making sure the pc are set not to look for ad hoc connection and that they are set to always wait for network at startup
    Yes, The GPO is set to only access infrastructure networks. We also already tried enabling wait for network at startup (and disabling it too), and that seemed to have little effect.

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    plexer's Avatar
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    Get a decent wireless client on them such as the odessey one from Juniper.

    Ben

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    Broadcasting the SSID did not seem to have much effect, I turned on SSID broadcast and tested with a few netbooks, and the problem persisted.

    The Dell Utility, on the other hand, worked remarkably well. I installed it on a non-authenticating netbook, and sure enough there was an option to enable wireless before login. After the laptop was configured, I took an image off it and sent it to the rest of that lab's netbooks, and they all connected and authenticated on the first try. Tried again with a second lab, and again they all worked.

    Thanks for all the help everyone

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    Aha!

    I am having the exact same problem as you and i am tearing my hair out!

    The only difference is our SSID isnt hidden.

    Will try using the toshiba utility but i didnt have to do that on my older batch. Its exactly like the OP said, they aren authenticating before login!

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    Ppplllllleeeeeaaaassssseeeeee!! I'm so stuck lol!!

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    damn you Joey! Every post i find on the internet about it is yours! lol

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    @little-miss

    have you tried http://www.edugeek.net/forums/networ...tml#post255565

    Chilbs

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