Netbooks + Wireless + Active Directory Logins
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.