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Hands On

Though the menu options on the AirPort Utility are consistent between the Mac and the PC version, I did notice some differences between the two when I had the utility running on both platforms at the same time. For the Mac version, the AirPort utility has an agent that runs even when the utility isn’t open. This agent can detect certain types of problems and provides guidance for resolving the problem. To test this, I disconnected the Ethernet cable on the WAN port. Within a few seconds, a screen popped up on the Mac showing that the WAN Ethernet port was unplugged. 

WAN disconnected
Click to enlarge image

Figure 19: AirPort Utility Showing WAN disconnected

Note that the status light is amber and mirrors the status light on the AirPort Extreme. When I plugged the WAN Ethernet cable in again, the problem cleared and the status light returned to green. I had expected a similar diagnostic to run on the PC platform, as there is a service that runs and appears in the system tray. It didn’t. That service appears to only control preferences for automatically detecting disks plugged into the AirPort’s USB port.

Updated 10/17/2007: The troubleshooting/monitor screens will appear only on computers that have been used to configure the base station—both Windows and MacOS.

Next, I attached a USB Flash drive to the USB port on the AirPort Extreme. On the PC, a popup window appeared showing that a disk had become available on the AirPort Extreme. After typing in the password for the AirPort (my configuration choice when I set up the AirPort), the drive automatically mounted as a mapped drive. 

Drive attach

Figure 20: Pop-up windows on the PC showing a newly attached drive on the AirPort Extreme

On the Mac, since I had previously saved the password on the key chain, the drive mounted and appeared on the desktop.

I did experience one anomaly, however. I connected an external USB drive that had multiple partitions—one formatted for Windows and the other for an EXT2 Linux partition. The drive mounted properly when attached to a PC, but the AirPort reported a disk problem and didn’t mount either partition.

If you need additional USB ports, you can plug a USB hub into the AirPort’s USB port. I tested this by plugging in a four-port hub, and then inserted two USB flash drives. Both drives were visible under the disk menu, and both mounted properly on the Mac desktop.

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