Saturday, 12 January 2019

Thoughts on the TP-Link RE200 Wireless Booster

A little while ago I went over to a friend's house to install at TP-Link RE200 wireless booster as his wireless signal gets pretty weak upstairs.

It all turned  into a bit of a saga.....

In theory it should have been a doddle.  All I needed to do was to go through a simple WPS process to get the RE200 talking to his existing router and all should have been well.

Initially things looked like they were going well,  once the WPS buttons had been pressed on both router and the RE200 lights started turning on and my hopes were high.  However,  only 2 of the lights on the range extender came on and when I tried to connect to the new wireless network I could not get an internet connection.

So I gave up on WPS and looked at the "manual method" as suggested in the paperwork that came with the product.  This involves disconnecting from any current wireless network and connecting a laptop (or other device) to the RE-200.  When you turn it on it will create a wireless network of its own,  called something like TP-Link_Extender.  At this stage you are supposed to open a web browser and to go to http://tplinkrepeater.net or http://192.168.0.254.  At that stage you should be able to use the router's credentials to log in: then you can further configure your RE-200.  I was just not getting any reply from either page.

After much googling (and even  more muttering and chuntering from myself) I finally sorted out what had happened.

My friend's router was giving out addresses in the 192.168.1.x range but the extender wanted to use an address on the 192.168.0.x range......so they were not talking to each other.

So if you come across something similar: there is a way round the issue.  Turn on your extender and let it settle down for a minute or so.  They you will need a laptop and an ethernet cable.  Disconnect any automatically connecting wireless connection that may have started with the machine.  Run the ethernet between the laptop and the RE-200.  Now you will need to check to see what IP address is being given to that connection to the ethernet port of your laptop.  Chances are, if you are having the same issue as I had, the address will be in the 192.168.0.x range.  Assuming your router is working on the 192.168.1.x range then you will need to set a static address on this port so that you can get things going.  I was using a windows laptop so I could just right click on the connection and change its properties.  You can do the same in linux with network manager.  I gave the connection the address of 192.168.1.253 as a static IP and then disconnected the cable and rebooted the RE-200.  You can then connect it up again and with the ethernet between your laptop and the RE-200 you should now be able to get onto the webpage via its ip address,  ie http://192.168.1.253 : now finally you will get the prompt for the router's authentication and once you enter this you will be able to see and alter its settings via the web interface.  I went straight into its network settings and changed them all round to reflect the new IP range and at last,  the range extender was talking properly over the network and its 2 new wireless networks had proper access to the internet.

So,  all in all,  a bit of a pain in the backside,  to be honest.  To be fair to TP-Link there have been no issues with the unit subsequently.  I checked out their support site and there does seem to be a quite new firmware package for the RE-200.  Once of the fixes listed for this new firmware is: "Fixed the issue that extender can't obtain IP address in a few special situations" so perhaps newer units will not suffer from this annoying defect.  There is no real reason why the device could not adjust to different IP ranges used by different routers (as its competitors seem to do without bother) so this is consumer unfriendly to say the least.  I've had good experiences in the past with TP-Link products so I don't wish to be overly critical: but this is something that should be fixed for the sake of the less technical users out there.

Friday, 16 June 2017

New look for my Plasma

I've settled on the breeze dark "look and feel" for some time now.

I did try ark dark because I loved ark dark in my GTK desktops and I particularly like the window decorations.

However,  going through all KDE's extra options to try to get GTK apps to display the same as native QT I could never get the consistency I was looking for,  so back to breeze dark.

These are the look and feel themes I have installed currently:


Setup like this I did have the consistency I was looking for but I wanted something more.  

Breeze dark with a little transparency would be even nicer: so I delved into the nether reaches of the "get new theme" button and came up with Breeze Transparent Dark,  which does the trick nicely.

Here are my installed desktop themes:


Now I can have some lovely effects on my menu and taskbar:



Thursday, 8 June 2017

I've moved back to KDE with Antergos

I had a bit of a disaster with my Manjaro XFCE and despite my best efforts I could not revive it.  If you watch a lot of YouTube videos on linux distros you often see people starting off on Manjaro and then leaving it when something goes wrong.  Usually,  its Manjaro that gets the blame.  So,  just to be clear,  this was all my fault: nothing to do with the distro.

I'd decided to fiddle around with my graphics settings to try to reduce screen tearing and after putting in some extra settings on the nividia-settings module life got awfully nasty.  Initially I had no visuals at all: but after a bit of terminal work I did get the GUI back: but Steam in particular refused to play ball despite my frantic googling efforts.

This seemed a good opportunity to try something new: so I decided to have a look at KDE again.  I like KDE: I like the way you can fiddle around with all aspects of the desktop to your heart's content. It also gave me the excuse to put another 8GB of RAM in my tired old HP desktop taking it up to the giddy heights of 16GB.

I decided to go for a "purer" Arch with Antergos rather than stick with Manjaro (although they do a KDE version) so with some trepidation I set up the ISO on a trusty USB stick and off I went.  In the past I've had all sort of fun and games with Antergos and in particular,  the installer.  However,  on this occasion I did get the install completed after some playing around with the updater which did eventually update the running ISO and do the install.

Its my first serious go (I don't count virtualbox) at KDE 5 and its a bit of a revelation.  In common with other commenters I've found it far less resource intensive than I had expected.  Of course it does use more RAM than XFCE (which I still use on a laptop via the ever reliable MX-16) but it seems far better than my previous installs.

Here's what I'm rocking now:


This is with my trusty NVidia GT-640.  I do have a much better NVidia card but its too power hungry for the PSU in the HP plus its too big for the motherboard: so that one will have to wait for a new build for now.  

I experimented with quite a few themes (as you do) but settled on breeze dark in the end.  I do love the arc-dark look,  especially the window buttons,  but I just couldn't get it to look consistent between the normal and GTK windows so in the end I gave up and went for breeze in look and feel and desktop themes.  

I have to say I'm well pleased with the results: and it does perform well as a gaming rig too.  I've just added Mad Max to my steam library and despite its dire warnings of performance issues on first run: it does run just fine: even with antialiasing on.

Update
I've just updated my Mad Max to use the vulkan driver that's available via the Steam beta: and the results are fantastic.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Delay the startup of Latte Dock in KDE

I'm now using a KDE build (Antergos) : and loving it!

I've been using Latte Dock since I had some issues with Plank under KDE: on occasions it would show an extra icon for Plasma and that started me looking for something new.

I do like Latte Dock a lot: but I've been having an issue with KDE occasionally crashing out of GL compositing on startup: which always shows up in the dock since its background re appears and looks ugly.

My theory is that if I could delay the dock startup a while: the compositing would be unaffected when the dock loaded: and so far it seems to have worked.

So I changed the line in my autostart to look like this:


The only thing I changed was the command which reads:

sleep 20s && latte-dock &

Now the compositing can load ahead of the dock and all seems to be well.  

Friday, 16 December 2016

Strange Mouse Effects with Virtualbox

Since the latest updates to Virtualbox I've noticed a strange issue with the mouse pointer on the guest systems.

I usually run Linux VM guests but I've read reports that this can be  an issue with windows guests as well.  A very large and annoying pointer shadow appears on the screen:


I've googled all around and tried a few fixes but nothing works for me so far.  Plenty of other people seem to get this issue,  but there are no workarounds that have helped my situation.

The issue seems to vary in severity according to the mouse pointer scheme you choose,  with plain black pointers its much less pronounced but if you are using the chameleon cursor set you are really out of luck.

If anyone knows a fix: please let me know.