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Stability achieved. Cut over to Unifi Dream Machine Pro happiness and do not brick your EdgeMax by rebooting too fast

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Well it took all night but finally cutover from a MacBook controller to a Dream Machine Pro and I’m glad I did:

Unifi and Synology becoming the Apple of networking and storage. Yes you can hack away or buy cheap consumer gadgets but they are a headache. These two companies are taking the open source freedom snd adding two things. The first is enterprise Management made easy. The second is a no subscription or hidden cost view.

  • Stability with the Unifi Dream Machine. Ok, the first problem is I was way too aggressive in changing settings so this was a chance to roll it all back. The big changes were no advanced network features, no fast roaming, no power management, and rollback of vht40 in 5 GHz. And now suddenly it all works. Previously Amazon Echo, Denon, and LG clients refused all WPA2 attempts and now it works. The big lesson is to start vanilla and then add features in a controlled way.
  • Many IoT devices do not like 80Mhz channels. I think the biggest mistake I made was flipping everything to VHT80 or 80MHz channels. It definitely looks like the LG cannot handle this. When I added this back, it moved to another access point farther down the line. That was not the cause of the various login failures, but good to know
  • Managed cutover. I made a huge number of mistakes here the big one was breaking the tab on the main cable going to the cable modem. Do nothing worked for two hours the cable looked pressed in but wasn’t so check the obvious. Here’s the best way to cutover. Our current Edgemax has a mode which called LAN2 which allows running the current system and then even though double-NATed, you can move things over to the new setup. Of course, I completely confused myself because there are three ports ETH0, ETH1, and ETH2 and confusingly when you are running in LAN2 mode, ETH1 is the WAN port and ETH0 and ETH2 are the LAN ports.

Do Not Brick your EdgeMax and Arris does not DHCP properly

The last step was really the hardest. That is removing the EdgeMax box and connecting the Unifi Dream Machine Pro directly to the Cable Modem. What a mistake this was. It is the simple matter of changing two ethernet cables and then nothing works. So here is what you have to do:

  1. Arris SB6183 does not DHCP properly after the first few minutes. It looks like there is some sort of “feature” or bug. If you just change the cable on an Arris, it does not serve a new DHCP address. What you have to do is to power the box down and then plug the new router in right away. With some experimentation, you can see that after the first few minutes it will not server any DHCP addresses. As an aside, the way to look at it is that it has a set address at 192.168.100.1 and you can look at it’s state directly from there. So when you are swapping boxes, power both the cable modem and the router down and then power up together.
  2. EdgeMax Pro Router you must wait at least two minutes for reset to take or you will brick the box. Ok this is the most confusing part, the new Unifi Dream Machine uses are real operating system (and costs way more like $400 vs $80). And that is because the EdgeMax is using a dedicated router operating system and using a low speed MIPS controller. That means it can be really flaky. In particularly if you try to do a reset, be careful. I actually bricked the box by first doing a software reset and when that failed powering down and doing a hardware reset with a paper clip. That basically meant the box went inert. So if you are going to use it, be really careful. Also, the ordering of ETH0, ETH1 and ETH2 varies between wizard installations so be careful and note how it is setup. Sometimes, ETH0 is the WAN port and sometimes ETH1 is. The net is that I’m moving completely to UDM and even though more expensive, it is more like a real operating system.
  3. There is no way to tell the WAN port IP addresses in the current UDM user interface. At least I could not find it. That means that you can really debug what is happening on the cable modem side so pretty frustrating. In fact the only way to do a DHCP release is to reboot the Dream Machine.
  4. The Dream Machine takes a long time like minutes to tell you if the Internet is up. Normally when you plug a box in, you discover right away if the Internet is up. The UDM does not do this, it takes some time (I presume it is pinging some Unifi server) to do this, so don’t use the console information to discover this. When I finally did a slow reboot (that is power down the cable modem, power down the UDM, the power up the cable modem and immediately power the UDM), everything worked, but the Internet is up sign didn’t appear for minutes.

ICYMI

When you are flipping networks in the Unifi world:

  1. Do flip switched willy nilly, start with the default configuration and get everything running. Do a backup then and save it for debugging later.
  2. When you want to do a cut over, double NAT your new equipment and gradually move things over. Let it stabilize.
  3. When you are ready to move the whole thing over, power down the cable modem, power down all the routers gracefully, change the cables to take out the old router. Then power up the cable modem and immediately power up the Dream Machine.
  4. Test it with looking at clients and don’t look at the Internet status on the Dream Machine it is a lagging indicator.

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