NETGEAR WNCE3001

Introduction

External design and hardware

Firmware upgrade

Web-interface review

Command line interface

Testing

Conclusion

Introduction

Recently we have published a review of ASUS EA-N66 wireless network adapter that allows connecting the devices with only wired interface to wireless networks. Today we would like our readers to get familiar with another inexpensive wireless network adapter of 802.11n standard – NETGEAR WNCE3001. Though the model WNCE3001 appeared much earlier than its ASUS analogue, we decided to introduce its review only now.

External design and hardware

Wireless adapter NETGEAR WNCE3001 half-face resembles the Eiffel Tower, on its sides there is the perforated vent grate.

The front and the rear surfaces are glossy and there is the vendor’s name as well as a sticker with the device brief information is placed.

The upper narrow panel is also a perforated vent plastic grate behind which a LED showing the device status and the wireless transmission mode is hidden.

At the bottom of the adapter there is a shallow stand with a technological hole for cables and Ethernet connection at WNCE3001 placement on a table. Unfortunately, because of the little device weigh using thick wires can bring to WNCE3001 capsizing on the table. Also it must be mentioned that this wireless adapter can be hung on the wall thanks to the special sticker which is given in the kit.

The device bottom itself is perforated too and has two ports: Fast Ethernet and USB (for power supply only). Besides, there are the buttons Reset and WPS which roles are standard.

WNCE3001 power supply is provided either by a special adapter through the alternating current network or by USB connection to the final cross point.

Now let’s look inside. The electronic filling of WNCE3001 consists of one green textolite board with the main elements on both sides. The wireless part is hidden behind the removable metal screen and in fact it is a Realtek RTL8192DR chip supporting IEEE802.11b/g/n. Winbond W9812G6JH-6 module is used as RAM,which capacity is 16Mbyte. All the basic logic is stored on the chip Realtek RTL8196C.

We’ve considered the hardware, now let’s move on to the software.

Firmware upgrade

The firmware version change is performed with the help of “Firmware upgrade” item on the “Maintenance” menu group. Updating is possible in manual or semi-automatic mode which requires the connection to the Internet. We made up our minds to update the firmware manually. To achieve this goal we downloaded the file with the new software version from the official site and uploaded it to our device.

The entire updating process takes not more than three minutes and no special user’s qualification is needed.

Now we’ll look into the web-interface functions.

Web-interface review

Without access to a wireless network NETGEAR WNCE3001 has an IP address 192.168.1.251 which is necessary to be connected via any current browser for an initial setup.

If you click the button “Continue”, you will launch the network connection wizard. Provided the existing wireless net doesn’t perform broadcasting of its SSID, you can still connect to it by manual input of its name.

Besides using the wizard it is also possible to set everything up manually with the help of the web-interface available in five languages: Russian, English, German, French and Italian. In every section there is a detailed help.

Let’s have a look at the left menu items. Via the item WPS a simplified connection of WNCE3001 to available wireless networks is performed.

The “Setup Wizard” item launches the procedure of connection to an existing network, we have already seen it before. NETGEAR WNCE3001 can have static IP parameters or get them from DHCP server, the corresponding setting is realized in the “IP Address Setup” item.

You can get the information about wired or wireless connection and the firmware versions used with the help of the “Device status” item.

Users’ settings administration is performed in the “Backup settings” item, and via the “Firmware upgrade” item you can update the firmware.

The advanced wireless settings are available in the “Wireless Settings” item.

The last two menu items “Knowledge Base” and “Documentation” of the “Web Support” group redirect the user to the corresponding sections on the vendor site. That brings us to the end of the NETGEAR WNCE3001 network adapter web-interface review. We must admit being a bit confused by the device disability to work as an access point or a repeater. The addition of such functions doesn’t seem to mean significant rise in price of the solution.

Command line interface

By default the access to the command line is missing, but it can be switched on by a standard for NETGEAR wireless equipment method. Though WNCE3001 is a device for home usage, we still think we are to introduce all the functions of this interface to the reader.

Having switched on the access you can perform the connection via any telnet client, login and password are not needed. We consider such an engineering entrance to be a serious vulnerability of the device security. The BusyBox library use is thought standard for such sort of devices.

# busybox
BusyBox v1.13.4 (2012-01-02 17:57:42 CST) multi-call binary
Copyright (C) 1998-2008 Erik Andersen, Rob Landley, Denys Vlasenko
and others. Licensed under GPLv2.
See source distribution for full notice.
Usage: busybox [function] [arguments]...
or: function [arguments]...
BusyBox is a multi-call binary that combines many common Unix
utilities into a single executable. Most people will create a
link to busybox for each function they wish to use and BusyBox
will act like whatever it was invoked as!
Currently defined functions:
ash, bunzip2, bzcat, bzip2, cat, cp, date, echo, free, grep, halt,
hostname, ifconfig, init, ip, kill, killall, klogd, ln, ls, mkdir,
mount, mv, ping, poweroff, ps, reboot, renice, rm, route, sh, sleep,
syslogd, telnetd, tftp, touch, umount
# cat /proc/version
Linux version 2.6.30.9 (hyang@dev3) (gcc version 3.4.6-1.3.6) #328 Mon Jan 2 18:
01:30 CST 2012

With the help of the command ps let’s see what processes are running at the moment.

# ps
PID USER VSZ STAT COMMAND
1 root 1148 S init
2 root 0 SW< [kthreadd]
3 root 0 SW< [ksoftirqd/0]
4 root 0 SW< [events/0]
5 root 0 SW< [khelper]
6 root 0 SW< [async/mgr]
7 root 0 SW< [kblockd/0]
8 root 0 SW [pdflush]
9 root 0 SW [pdflush]
10 root 0 SW< [kswapd0]
11 root 0 SW< [mtdblockd]
170 root 928 S udhcpd /var/udhcpd.conf
182 root 1192 S wscd -mode 2 -c /var/wsc-wlan0.conf -w wlan0 -fi /var
185 root 924 S iwcontrol wlan0
195 root 896 S reload
211 root 1316 S zacosd
214 root 888 S resetd
220 root 1032 S lld2d br0
223 root 1328 S pot run
225 root 892 S timesync ntpclient
231 root 1900 S httpd
232 root 1152 S -/bin/sh
241 root 1148 S telnetd
242 root 1156 S /bin/sh
244 root 1156 S /bin/sh
248 root 1148 R ps

Let’s also find out the contents of the catalogue /bin, as the directories /sbin, /usr/bin and /usr/sbin are missing.

# pwd
/
# ls
bin dev etc home init lib mnt proc sys tmp usr var www
# ls /bin
acltd free ln routerinfo
ash ftpc loaddefault rssi
auth getmib ls run_dhcpc.sh
bd gpio mkdir run_dhcpd.sh
brctl grep mount setmib
bunzip2 halt mp.sh sh
burnboardid hostname mv sleep
burncode httpd nethijack snmpd.sh
burnethermac iapp ntp_inet startup.sh
burnpin ib ntpclient sysconf
burnsku idd nvram syslogd
burnsn ifconfig ob telnetd
busybox init od telnetenable
bzcat init.sh orf tftp
bzip2 ip ow timesync
cat ip_qos.sh ping touch
connect.sh irf pot udhcpc
cp iw poweroff udhcpc_callback
date iwcontrol ppp_inet udhcpd
ddns_inet iwpriv pppoe.sh umount
disconnect.sh kill pptp.sh uptime
dw killall ps version
echo killsh.sh reboot wlanapp.sh
erasest klogd reload wscd
ew l2tp.sh renice zacosd
firewall.sh leddown resetd
fixedip.sh ledup rm
flash lld2d route

Via the utility routerinfo from the catalogue /bin the administrator can get some brief information about the device used. A part of this information is also available through the command version. Moreover there is an nvram utility in the catalogue /bin, but unfortunately it doesn’t work.

# routerinfo
Release version : NETGEAR Ethernet to Wireless Adapter WNCE3001
U12H170T00/V1.0.0.44/1.0.32
Time : Jan 2 2012 17:57:37
WSC PIN - 99956042
LAN mac address - 204E7F9E2429
WAN mac address - 204E7F9E2429
WLAN mac address - 204E7F9E2429
Board ID - U12H170T00_NETGEAR
serial number - 2S22197V00284
region_num - 0x0002
sku_name - WW
language - English
wl_region - 5
timezone – 0
# version
Release version : NETGEAR Ethernet to Wireless Adapter WNCE3001
U12H170T00/V1.0.0.44/1.0.32
Time : Jan 2 2012 17:57:37
# nvram
Wrong AP setting command.
# nvram show
Segmentation fault

To learn the uptime of WNCE3001 is feasible via the utility /bin/uptime or by reading the file /proc/uptime. The file /proc/loadavg displays the information about the average load of the device.

# uptime
1 hour 12 minutes 34 seconds
# cat /proc/uptime
4449.84 4318.87
# cat /proc/loadavg
0.01 0.02 0.00 1/26 303

Now let’s go to the catalogue /proc and see what files are located here.

# ls /proc
1 br_mCastFastFwd kpageflags
10 br_mldquery load_default
11 br_mldsnoop loadavg
170 br_wlanblock meminfo
182 buddyinfo misc
185 bus mounts
195 cmdline mtd
2 cpuinfo net
211 crypto pagetypeinfo
214 custom_Passthru partitions
220 custom_Passthru_wlan phyPower
223 devices portState
225 diskstats rf_switch
231 driver rtk_vlan_support
232 eth0 self
241 eth1 slabinfo
242 eth2 stat
244 eth3 suspend_check
293 eth4 sys
3 execdomains sysvipc
4 filesystems timer_list
5 fs tty
6 gpio uptime
7 interrupts version
8 iomem vmallocinfo
9 ioports vmstat
StormCtrl irq wlan0
br_igmpProxy kcore zoneinfo
br_igmpquery kmsg
br_igmpsnoop kpagecount

The information about CPU and memory you can get from the files cpuinfo and meminfo.

# cat cpuinfo
system type : RTL8196C
processor : 0
cpu model : 52481
BogoMIPS : 389.12
tlb_entries : 32
mips16 implemented : yes
# cat meminfo
MemTotal: 11136 kB
MemFree: 2684 kB
Buffers: 716 kB
Cached: 2472 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 2664 kB
Inactive: 1812 kB
Active(anon): 1288 kB
Inactive(anon): 0 kB
Active(file): 1376 kB
Inactive(file): 1812 kB
SwapTotal: 0 kB
SwapFree: 0 kB
Dirty: 0 kB
Writeback: 0 kB
AnonPages: 1296 kB
Mapped: 764 kB
Slab: 3384 kB
SReclaimable: 296 kB
SUnreclaim: 3088 kB
PageTables: 192 kB
NFS_Unstable: 0 kB
Bounce: 0 kB
WritebackTmp: 0 kB
CommitLimit: 5568 kB
Committed_AS: 2884 kB
VmallocTotal: 1048404 kB
VmallocUsed: 264 kB
VmallocChunk: 1048136 kB

Our brief review of the command line interface is over, now we are turning to the testing section.

Testing

Our first traditional test is to determine the device booting time under which we mean the time interval between switching the power on and receiving the first echo reply via ICMP. NETGEAR WNCE3001 boots within 84 seconds. We consider it a quite long period of time, though pretty acceptable.

Our second test was the device security check for which we used the Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100) scanner of network security. All in all we detected three open ports: TCP-23 (Telnet), UDP-53 (DNS) and TCP-80 (HTTP). The most exciting findings are shown below.

Now let’s move to the wireless network adapter NETGEAR WNCE3001 performance testing. Since the wired interface supports the maximum speed of one-way data transmission no more than 100 Mbit/s, all the “wireless” speeds will not exceed this value. We connected the device to the ASUS RT-N66U wireless router that we have already mentioned. For testing the utility JPerf 2.0.2. was used. The measurements included one, five and fifteen simultaneous TCP sessions. The results of both frequency ranges are displayed on the diagrams below.

We can’t say the received speeds are outstanding but we suppose that those will be enough to connect a TV-set or any other similar devices to the existing 802.11n wireless network.

This leads us to the end of the testing section. Let’s make conclusions.

Conclusion

The tested NETGEAR WNCE3001 wireless client made us confused. On the one hand, it is a beautiful and stylish device for home use for a fair price, but on the other hand it is not capable of using all the speed advantages of the 802.11n wireless standard and the presence of security shortcomings makes it very “home”.

The strong points of WNCE3001 are listed below.

  • Dual frequency range (2.4 and 5 GHz) support.
  • Original design.
  • Fair price.
  • Little weigh.
  • Online help.

But we can’t help mentioning the detected drawbacks as well.

  • The wired port is only 100Mbps.
  • The hidden command line access via telnet without any password.
  • Lack of necessity to put in the login and password to access the device web-interface

At the moment of writing the article the average price of wireless adapter NETGEAR WNCE3001 in on-line shops of Moscow was 2000 rubles.

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