Monday, 8 September 2008

Motel wireless setup

the next project I am working on is setting up a wireless hotspot for a motel. This will then be used as a basis for another project dealing with wireless access for students at school. Something different.

We have managed to get some dell machines from an online auction house. These machines are Dell Opitplex Gx280.

We have some ubuntu 7.10 CDROM available to us which will allow us to get linux up and running on them. Who needs Windows.

Some of the software we are looking at installing and testing out is
Alternative link to the sourceforge project site is here.

We have done an initial install and tried to follow the manual on how to install it with some success. The only hitch we have have hit is getting CakePHP to run. This has involved some tinkering and some sudo commands to get access. However, most of the documnetation we read on how to fix this problem is for windows environments running WAMP, which hasn't been much help.
The cake Manual is available from here, it will take some understanding to be able to install it and some help from other websites as I am still having trouble trying to get the links to the mysql database working.

Part of the reason why I am looking at hotcakes is the features, it is customiable, wherei can put the logo of the motel in and personalise it just for them, its free. Which is always a good thing and it gets students involved in developing their own skills.

There are other alternatives out there, one of these is chillispot running on DD-WRT. Now this requires that you have a Linksys WRT54G Wireless Access Router and requires you to flash the device, however when you read the file you will see what challenges lay ahead. See the link to view more details

I do wish we had more time to get down and dirty with this, one hour periods are fine for juniors, but for senior students working on some serious projects, one hour is not enough each day. You only really catch up what you did the previous day and maybe work through one or two steps before the time is up.

Notes that I wrote up while in class working on this solution:
The seninario is:
To create a wireless hotspot for a motel owner to use with his current system.

The current system he currently uses is ZoneCD which runs on a LiveCD ( ia the development site, the commericial site is available at He uses a usb storage device attached to grab the configuration data. The only problem with this has been a lack of secure socket layer encryption. In plain laguage, it keeps cutting out.
This could have been due to his internet connection problems but has since change internet providers and routers which the same problem.

the logs state.
ermail log attached.MySQL Error: ()
~ 09/06/08 LogsMessage-ID: <>
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Disposition: inlineUser-Agent: Mutt/1.3.28i
Your Daily Logs are attached for Database error: connect(localhost,free_web,PASSWORD) failed.

MySQL Error: ()

No other other log information is received through the email settings.

He would like a new system that is a little more stable.
The machine he curently has is an old pentium computer that has been running for two years without being turned off and is now making strange noises, This could be due to the fan on the processor or the power supply fan.
He has two network cards in the machine to allow for the filtering of traffic, so people cannot download torrents or thrash his network in any way.
There is no keyboard, mouse or screen attached to the computer so it cannot be interferred with by any staff member or minders. You can access the computer by ssh or remote desktop.
It is also stored in a storage area of the motel that has limited space.
Wireless access points, these are configured with static IP address and are open, the zoneCD is used as a firewall to stop outside people using this connection.
The other issue is that he is right beside a secondary school that has their own wireless access network. So channel and SSID settings need to be set up right.
He has a Linksys Wireless access point WRT54G and a Belkin Wireless access router that is being used to service the 14 units and the motel reception.
The system needs to be simple enough for him to create a user account and password, and allow them access for a certain amount of time.
Other issues with his current system have been the session popup box not connecting back to the server to give proper time, or having to relogin ever 5 minutes. There has been no support for the ZoneCD since Version 1.2-3 (Released 8 ·24·2005)
Future setups could be for our own secondary school to provide wireless acces to our students. So any development needs to be documnetated and amended as necessary.
Current Configuration Settings are available at

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