Frustrating Network Issues

Over the holidays, I bit the bullet and completed digitizing my DVD and BD collection in an effort to make it vastly more convenient to watch from the comfort of my couch. As part of this I bought the components for, and built an Intel NUC box into the Plex Media Server.

With me so far? Good. That worked great, and I had a quite robust workflow for creating the digital files needed. I had plenty (oodles and oodles) of storage, and apart from there being an insane Rat’s Nest of cables, power supplies and chords on my desk, all is working.

But that isn’t the point of this post.

Cisco Cable Modem XfinityOur internet is provided by Xfinity (oops, I meant Comcast), and when we first moved in, my wife wanted a land line, for, well … I forget the reason. That meant that we have to rent our CPE from Xfinity. That means we have a Cisco modem/router. Dual band wireless, DOCSIS modem, 4 GigE ports, and I will admit a simple, easy to use web interface for management.

The two wireless bands are the 2.4GHz, and the 5GHz band. 2.4GHz is slower, but longer range, and theoretically more reliable for sketchy connections. And I care about it mostly because our printer only has a 2.4GHz radio, so it is a must have.

About a year ago, my wife came to me with the complaint that she couldn’t print. I spent an entire day fiddling with the printer, forcing it to reset, do the network discovery, etc etc. No luck. Finally, I decided to set my computer to the 2.4GHz SSID, and fuck, the radio was dead. Reboot the cable modem/router, and all was well.

It has stayed up pretty well, but of course Xfinity’s network is about as reliable as a candle in a fucking hurricane, so it gets rebooted a couple times a month on average.

Back to the NUC and my network.

I was having a little bit of connectivity issues with the NUC. At first I thought it was due to the 5GHz signal and its close proximity to a ton of other equipment (my studio monitors, the 24″ monitor, and my fat ass between it and the router.) So I dropped it onto the Cartman SSID, the name of my 2.4GHz band radio, figuring that would help.

It didn’t. I could often not ping it, or even see it on the network. Opening a term and doing some tcpdump analysis, weird ARP things were happening, things I couldn’t understand, hell, I was using the dotted quad to reach it, and I was getting unknown rout to host.

Fuck.

A lot of troubleshooting on my mac, and my NUC, and even looked at my wife’s computer. Then I remembered the shitty radio in my router. Re-authenticate to Archer, my 5GHz radio, and voila, pings work, AHCI lookups work, no longer does my Tivo app fail to connect.

I would love to shed our landline and buy a decent cable modem, and use a discrete WiFi router.

C’est la vie.

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