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Connecting to wireless office network before domain log in

Posted on 2008-06-16
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Last Modified: 2013-11-17
Hi,

I am trying to force some laptops to connect to our wireless network BEFORE the domain log in. There are some scripts that need to run but will only run if the pc is connected wirelessly.

Right now its working intermittently, I'm thinking Windows Zero Configuration is not connecting to the wireless soon enough or possibly using cached creditals, but I'm not sure.......
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Question by:mferderer
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by:PeteJThomas
ID: 21794461
Hey, depending on the type of WLAN cards in use, you can often download a more comprehensive piece of software to manage the WiFi on that machine (for e.g. I know Intel provide Intel Proset to accomplish this), and they have options to connect prior to windows log in (I had to use this in conjunction with allowing users to connect via VPN prior to logging in to Windows to resolve password expiration issues).

Have you considered this already? I'm sure other manufacturers (maybe not all though?) might have similar software...

Pete
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by:mferderer
ID: 21794594
Pete,

Would you have a link? We are running HP 9810us Laptops with atheros wireless cards I belive.
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by:PeteJThomas
ID: 21794631
Atheros definitely have this more advanced software (We had some Fuji laptops that had Atheros cards in) but if I remember rightly I struggled to find it on the net (I did eventually, and even though it stated that it was compatible with xx models of WLan cards (none of which were the ones we had) it still worked perfectly.

Let me see if I can find it for you!
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by:PeteJThomas
ID: 21794677
Hmmmm... Download this - http://drivers.softpedia.com/get/Other-DRIVERS-TOOLS/Others/Atheros-AR5xxx-Client-Utility-520125.shtml

I THINK that's it, although I can't say for certain without seeing it (or a screenshot of it!).

If it seems to be not it at all, then let me know and I'll keep searching!
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by:mferderer
ID: 21794687
Ill give it a go,
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by:mferderer
ID: 21795087
Still not connecting to domain first, and no log in script running.
Could it still be using a cached profile perhaps?
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by:PeteJThomas
ID: 21795233
Have you checked in the config for that utility to see if there is the option to connect before log on??

And the fact remains that if a WLAN connection doesn't require any input from the user (i.e. using a pre configured key and nothing else) and the WLAN is in the list of preferred networks, windows will actually connect anyway before log in, you just have to leave it long enough before attempting to log on to the domain... (well my laptop certainly does)

I'd keep looking at that utility to find the options in there... I know the Intel software can do it, I'd imagine this one can too! :)
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by:PeteJThomas
ID: 21795241
Oh and what do you mean a cached profile? For what? The domain log on? Or the Wifi? I mean it'll definitely be using a cached profile to log on to the domain if there's no network connection...
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by:mferderer
ID: 21795266
Hmmm Ill let it sit for a while before trying to log in. I got it to work for a while earlier until I went to try and image it then it went back to not wanting to cooperate with me again...... GRRRRRR
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by:mferderer
ID: 21795370
Well I let it sit a good 10 minutes after rebooting to see what happens and it still did not connect to the network prior to the windows log on.... :(
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by:PeteJThomas
ID: 21801582
Strange... Have you looked through all the settings in that WiFi utility? I'm sure I remember there being an option to connect prior to log on, and it would actually bring up the Atheros utility when you're at the log on screen! Although that MAY have just been the Intel ProSet utility (but that only works with Intel chipsets/cards...)

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by:mferderer
ID: 21802051
Yea I did not see that anyhwere on the utility, I saw an option for "run the program automaticly when windows starts" and that is checked but no avail......
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by:PeteJThomas
ID: 21802070
And the WiFi connection connects as soon as you log on without you having to do anything at all?
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by:mferderer
ID: 21802078
Indeed,
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PeteJThomas earned 2000 total points
ID: 21802142
I'm afraid I'm running out of ideas then... :( Maybe it is just the Intel software that allows you to do this, but I could've sworn I'd done it with the Atheros utility as well...

If you're running a DHCP server, have you tried creating a reservation for your WiFi card to see if that allows it to connect prior to log on? I thought that if enabled, the wireless card would broadcast it's presence and pick up an address (much the same as a wired connection), but perhaps a DHCP reservation will help?

Do you need me to explain what I mean or are you already familiar with reservations etc?
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by:mferderer
ID: 21802162
I am not no, but I will pass that along to the network guy who manages that. He is also at a loss as well. I was just trying to disable the XP fast user log in, to force it to fully initialize the network prior to loging in with no effect either, I checked it in the reg and with local gp.......
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by:PeteJThomas
ID: 21802215
I've been looking through forums, and it seems others have asked exactly the same question before... Doesn't appear to be any obvious resolutions for this, as if Wireless is initiated AFTER log on, you essentially have to log on to the domain using cached credentials, and then try to update stuff afterwards, which seems daft.

There is one article though where someone got around this problem by reservation an IP in DHCP for the Wifi card, although why that would force it to initiate prior to login I don't know... Worth a try though! Not a good work around if it needs to be done for a lot of machines however...

If the scripts are run by a GPO, have you tried logging in normally, connecting to WiFi, and then manually running gpupdate /force from the command prompt?

Or is this a case where the script needs to run EVERY time a user logs on, and not just once?

Pete
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by:PeteJThomas
ID: 21802236
This quote from a forum explains it a bit actually -

"You are all looking at microsoft for answers, while imho you should be looking at the wireless card manufacturer. this is a common problem, not only with d-link. intel pro sets (like the 2200bg) and some cisco adapters are also notorious for this. only with the right driver, the right client software and the right configuration settings will you be able to solve this.

the reason differs. some wireless adapters are working with a user-based configuration (doh!), so they require a user profile to be loaded first, before they know what to do. meaning you first have to logon with the cached account, before the adapter kicks in and requests an ip address from the dhcp server. of course by that time, it's already too late.

Other wireless adapters require a certain option to be enabled, which is only available when using the proprietary software instead of the default windows wireless connection tool."
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by:mferderer
ID: 21874398
Pete, I think were going to shelf the whole XP configs, and go with Vista, it seems it has a lot more functionality as what we can do. Such as defining what access points the machine can connect to, ie we can set it up to see our network only and no one else. ect.....

But I thank you for the help! It was helpfull with anther a similar situation I have going. :)
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