Ubiquiti UniFi Install

The Pi Beta Phi house at the University of Arkansas recently asked me to upgrade their network. Here is what they had:

  • Linksys WRT54GL running DD-WRT
  • Cisco SR2024 Gigabit switch
  • Netgear 10/100 POE switch
  • 4 Proxim AP-700 over POE

This is a decent setup, however, all of this equipment was simply laying on the floor in their computer room. Cables were running everywhere. Not good. Furthermore, the DD-WRT router doesn’t have enough horsepower to handle traffic for the number of users. All of the client devices have wireless.  Only the six computers in the lab were wired. Knowing that something needed to be done the Pi Phi House contacted a local computer services company which promptly quoted them nearly 5 figures for a Cisco setup with 4 Access Points. That is when I was called.

I have experience with infrastructure upgrades and wireless installation at First Church, The New School, and The Arts Center of the Ozarks. The UniFi enterprise wireless products from Ubiquiti would be a good fit because it was reliable, scalable, and inexpensive. One great feature is that it is centrally managed from OSX, Linux, or Windows.

So here is the equipment:

  • Closet mounted wall-rack from Commercial Communications
  • 24 Port Modular Patch Panel
  • 2 SuperMicro Dual Xeon 2.0Ghz with 4GB RAM
    • 1 for pfSense open source firewall
    • 1 for uBuntu 11.10 to run UniFi controller software
  • Tripp-Lite SMART750RM1U UPS for servers and switch
  • CyberPower Rackmount Power Distribution and Surge Protection
  • 6 UniFi APs

The physical installation went off without a hitch. There was one ‘gotcha’ that forced me to reload pfSense though. Also, with me being fairly green at uBuntu, it took me a while to get the UniFi controller up and running (Thanks to Blake for the help!).

The steps to install UniFi on uBuntu 11.10:

Install mongodb:

    1. Add the appropriate GPG key
    2. sudo apt-key adv –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com –recv 7F0CEB10
    3. Add this line to the sources.list file
    4. deb http://downloads-distro.mongodb.org/repo/ubuntu-upstart dist 10gen
    5. sudo apt-get update
    6. sudo apt-get install mongodb-10gen

Install Unfi

    1. Add this line to the sources.list file (natty works in this case rather than oneiric)
      deb http://www.ubnt.com/downloads/unifi/distros/deb/natty natty ubiquiti
    2. sudo apt-get update
    3. sudo apt-get install unifi

Install Google Chrome since it has built in flash abilities (from uBuntu Software)

Navigate to https://local ip:8443


Now that everything is up and running I am very pleased. Average number of users is about 40 50 at this point, although I expect that to increase as they realize how much more reliable the new setup is. It is also easy to log-in remotely to the uBuntu box to check on both the firewall and the UniFi controller.

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  1. Hi Doug,
    I’m looking at using some of these access points for a project. I’m estimating that I will need about 30 of them. I was wondering with your experience what did you do with all the PoE injectors back in the comms room? Did it not make things very messy?
    Did you have any issues with the power weakening when the cable becomes a certain length?

  2. In the various places I have installed the UniFi units I haven’t used more than 6 on any single switch. This isn’t too bad because they can be tucked and zip tied to the rack behind the switch and PDU. However, 30 would be pretty unsightly. You have a few options for the regular UAP. the first is to use the instant POE 802.af adapters sold by UBNT. I have seen these in actions but I have also seen a few burn up with cable runs coming out of them (150’+). The second is to get a UBNT ‘Tough Switch’ Carrier class model. This has 16 24V POE ports. Finally, another option is to get the UAP-Pro models which have a standard POE voltage than can be used with most other POE switches out of the box.

    I personally have only used the included injectors, I have not had one of them fail out of the 28 I have used. The longest cable run out of one of these is about 200′. Here is some good info:


  3. Thanks for the reply. I had a look through the ubiquti forums before asking you didn’t come across the ToughSwitch, thanks for pointing that out. It seems fairly costly though. As does the adapter. I might just end up connecting the injector before going to the patch panel and nailing them on a board to sit at the back of the cabinet.

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