Rich Freeman via plug on 26 Oct 2020 12:48:42 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] Mesh WiFi

On Mon, Oct 26, 2020 at 2:52 PM Thomas Delrue via plug
<> wrote:
> experiences with Mesh WiFi products (e.g. Amplifi or Ubiquiti) for home use?

So, I use UniFi at home, but not in a mesh mode normally.  I've
actually accidentally ended up in mesh mode when I've disconnected
cables - the APs meshed part of my network when a switch uplink was
lost.  So, it works.

Note that both AmpliFi and UniFi are Ubiquiti product lines.

A couple of words of caution:

Ubiquiti has three main product lines - EdgeOS, UniFi, and AmpliFi.
They don't really interoperate - obviously the network itself is just
ethernet and works with anything, but all the management console stuff
is separate.  So if you try to mix/match you end up having to maintain
multiple sets of configuration and keep them all in sync.  AmpliFi is
the more plug-and-play consumer-oriented solution that you set up with
your phone and so on.  I haven't used it but I suspect the average
person on this list would not care of it unless your needs are VERY
simple.  It is going to have some easy-to-use wizards and everything
is easy until you try to do something not in the menu, and then you
hit a wall.

For most home users UniFi is probably the way to go.  That's what I
use.  The nice thing is that you just define your networks/VLANs/SSIDs
and so on, and then all your UniFi hardware/gateways/whatever all get
provisioned.  If I want to add a new VLAN I just fill in a form, hit
submit, and now all your switches, APs, and so on know about the new
VLAN.  Of course, you might need to assign it to individual switch
ports if the traffic isn't coming in pre-tagged.  You do have to
understand the concepts of whatever you use to get it working right,
but the defaults are all sane so if you don't know what a VLAN is then
just don't touch anything having to do with VLANs.

If you want to mix it with non-UniFi stuff it should work fine, but
again you'd need to maintain parallel configs.

If you're strictly doing mesh it is easiest to provision things with a
wired connection, but they do have a cell phone app that can be used
to remotely provision stuff that isn't on your main network.  Maybe
you'd do that if you're setting up a WiFi link between two buildings
and you need to get the remote AP set up and don't want to plug it
into the other building LAN.  I'm guessing from there you can now
provision stuff in the remote building over its LAN plugged into the
AP (as long as you're bridging whatever VLAN does management - you
don't have to have an isolated VLAN for this but you can have
management traffic on any VLAN you designate so it could be

One downside to UniFi is that it has a ton of pretty dashboards that
are fundamentally useless because they neglect things like units,
time-ranges, and so on.  For example, I can pull up this page that has
all these pretty pages about how many GB of web traffic, or VPN
traffic, or ssh traffic, or whatever traffic I have.  Then I notice
that there is no indication of what time period that spans, so that
could be 100GB in the last day, week, month, year, 47.23 days, or who
knows.  Or they have these nice activity bars that have no units of
measure on them.  I won't say the data is useless, but they constantly
miss opportunities to make it more useful.

You can configure 95% of what any normal person would care about via
the controller UI.  However, there are apparently things that you can
only configure by ssh'ing to the appropriate place and editing config
files.  I haven't had to mess with that, but I really wouldn't want
to.  As far as I can tell EdgeOS is worse in that regard.

EdgeOS and UniFi are similar in many ways, but the management consoles
don't talk to each other, and EdgeOS seems to have more larger-scale
routing products, and UniFi has more smaller-scale swiches, APs, and
so on.  Really EdgeOS is designed more for backbone traffic, and UniFi
is more oriented to a home/office/building.

If I were doing something really serious I'm not sure how suitable
this stuff would be - I bet you'd run into all kinds of limits.  I
know I was going nuts because I wanted to have a switch port take in
traffic tagged with VLAN 1 and remap that to VLAN 5 and there is no
way to do that (apparently Cisco can do that).  However, for most
typical enthusiast applications UniFi should be a decent fit.

I can't vouch for their video/surveillance/etc stuff at all.  They
seem to be pushing hard into that space, and I've been curious about
it, but I'm not sure how it stands up.


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