Peterborough LUG (Canada) Forum

Linux & Android => Support => Topic started by: fox on March 04, 2021, 08:16:51 am

Title: Powerline Networking
Post by: fox on March 04, 2021, 08:16:51 am
What exactly is Ethernet over house wiring? Is this where you plug in a dongle and connect it via Ethernet cable to your computer? I tried one of these a few months ago and the speeds were terrible. (I brought it back.)
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: ssfc72 on March 04, 2021, 08:40:10 am
I wouldn't describe it as a dongle.  There are 2 small ( maybe 2" X 3") boxes that have plug prongs to plug into the wall outlets in your house. The one sending unit you attach an ethernet cable to you modem or router and the other receiving unit plugs into a remote wall outlet, in your house, where you have a computer or tv and you hook an ethernet cable from the wall unit to your computer.

I believe Brian said  he has used them and they worked well and the devices come rated at different data speeds. The cheap older ones only may be able to do the 100 Mbps etherent speeds while the more expensive units would be able to do the Gb ethernet speeds.

Maybe your house wiring is not suitable for ethernet over powerline or the Brand you tried was not very good.  Talk to Brain P or Kal if you need better info. :-)
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: fox on March 04, 2021, 01:29:35 pm
What I had was just a single unit that plugged into the wall. Nothing came with it that would be plugged into the router. So I suspect it was just picking up a wifi signal from the router and sending it via Ethernet to the computer attached to this unit.

Is what Brian was talking about also called a Powerline Network (see this article (https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/everything-you-need-to-know-about-powerline-networking/)? If so these look to cost $100-200. The potential advantage to me is related to my 2019 iMac, in which the internal wifi connector doesn't work in Linux (no driver for it). Instead, I bought a USB wifi dongle, which does work, but takes one of my USB ports, and requires a special driver installation which I would have to do for any distro I want to try. I would be willing to buy an Ethernet over house device if not too expensive, but ones like those in the article I noted run $80-130 at Staples.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: William on March 04, 2021, 05:02:03 pm
...  The potential advantage to me is related to my 2019 iMac, in which the internal wifi connector doesn't work in Linux (no driver for it). Instead, I bought a USB wifi dongle, which does work, but takes one of my USB ports, and requires a special driver installation which I would have to do for any distro I want to try. ...

Why didn't you buy USB wifi dongle or USB-to-Ethernet dongle that Linux supported?  Then, you would be all set.  They are cheap, and Asus is pretty good in terms of quality and Linux support.  Nowdays, you actually have to work at it, to not get it to work on Linux.

If you want ethernet wire into your mac, then try something like Asus RP-N12 repeater.  Keyword in description is "media bridge" or "client mode".  I use it to connect my ethernet devices in my basement to main floor router.  It's wire between devices and the repeater, and it's wifi between the repeater and the router.  Canada Computer no longer sells it, but does sell RP-AC55 (I guess, AC version instead of N).  Other people say that TP-LINK TL-WR802N works for this purpose, though I don't trust its quality.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: gmiller1977 on March 04, 2021, 05:10:29 pm
I'm sorry I missed this chat.  I completely forgot about it.

I have Powerline Ethernet in my house.  I got sick of Wifi interference in the area as more APs came online.  I bought TP-Link units for my home and they work fantastic.  Faster than 100Mbit, not quite as fast as Gbit.  I just use a switch upstairs for the computers and then uplink from the switch to the Powerline Ethernet to go to other areas of my house.  I bought 2 starter kits because the cost of 2 starter kits was cheaper than 4 individual units (go figure).

It lets you get Ethernet to areas that you would have difficulty getting it to, for example, my office is on the second floor of the house, on the north side, but my internet connectivity is on the lower level on the south side.... and I don't have any bulkheads I can go through to get CAT5/6 there without going outside, on a 4/12 pitched roof..... no thanks.  Weatherized CAT5/6 cable is also WAY more expensive than what I paid for these units.

I've read reports that you can get slow speeds if the wiring in your house is old, or, if you have aluminium wiring.  Not sure if this is true.

Wifi can work in many cases, but in others it cannot. 

My VoIP phone is wired.
Plex transcodes over wire better than wifi because of the bandwidth available.

I only use WiFi for cell phones, tablets, consoles, and printers.  Otherwise, I prefer cabled connections.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: ssfc72 on March 04, 2021, 05:29:26 pm
Yes, the device that plugs into your home electrical wall outlet, I was thinking of and that Brian P. spoke about, is called "ethernet over powerline".  I have one that I bought quite a few years ago, but I haven't used and is still in the shrink wrapped box.  I will have to go looking for it and test it out.  I could let you try it out, if you want to.


What I had was just a single unit that plugged into the wall. Nothing came with it that would be plugged into the router. So I suspect it was just picking up a wifi signal from the router and sending it via Ethernet to the computer attached to this unit.

Is what Brian was talking about also called a Powerline Network (see this article (https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/everything-you-need-to-know-about-powerline-networking/)? If so these look to cost $100-200. The potential advantage to me is related to my 2019 iMac, in which the internal wifi connector doesn't work in Linux (no driver for it). Instead, I bought a USB wifi dongle, which does work, but takes one of my USB ports, and requires a special driver installation which I would have to do for any distro I want to try. I would be willing to buy an Ethernet over house device if not too expensive, but ones like those in the article I noted run $80-130 at Staples.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: fox on March 04, 2021, 10:31:07 pm
Sure, I would be interested in trying it.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: Jason on March 05, 2021, 02:15:36 pm
Sounded like a great meeting with lots of information. Maybe we need to record these. :) But then people might not show up.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: fox on March 12, 2021, 04:00:04 pm
I decided that I want to try a powerline adapter, so I ordered the D-link Powerline Av-2 1000 from Staples online. It is highly rated and looks to deliver at speeds comparable to that of my AC 1200 USB adapter. The big advantage is that it would hook to my iMac via ethernet, which means that any distro I try on it should get automatic internet. (My wifi adapter works but required a driver to be installed. My internal wifi is not recognized by any Linux and I couldn't find a driver for it.) I paid $80 plus tax for it. If it doesn't work well, I can just return it.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: ssfc72 on March 13, 2021, 06:09:29 am
Sounds good Mike, I would expect the powerline ethernet adapter should work well for you. I will be interested in your findings.
I haven't had a chance, to go looking for my power line adapter, yet.  It is an older model so I would think it probably is only able to do about 300 Mbps speeds.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: fox on March 13, 2021, 07:53:17 am
It is supposed to get here on Monday, and I'm keen to try it. I believe that it comes with two adapters, so I can even put one upstairs and use it with my 2011 iMac. I talked to a guy in Staples about it, and he said that the key to it working well is (1) having not-old wiring in your house; (2) having the router and the outlet where you are using it on the same electrical box (as opposed to same circuit breaker); and (3) not plugging it into a power bar. I think I'm OK on all three counts.

I'll report back once I've tried it, but I think I'll do it in either the Marketplace or Tips thread. Probably the latter, as I there are several powerline adapter brands and I don't think my result will be specific to the D-Link I bought. BestBuy in Peterborough had a Netgear model in stock for $100 that comes with Ethernet cables; I could have gone with that one. There are also several models that can be bought for under $60, but they operate at half the speed of the one I bought.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: Jason on March 13, 2021, 04:13:25 pm
I was thinking about the old wiring. Your house looks fairly old (not disparaging it, I like old houses) although old is relative. Our triplex isn't really old but it started as a duplex and the basement apartment we're in was added later. I think the guy that did the wiring was a do-it-yourselfer and didn't really understand what he was doing or just had to do it in an ad-hoc way. I doubt powerline adapters would work here.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: fox on March 13, 2021, 04:43:22 pm
Old house is a compliment to me. But we had a renovation about 10 years ago and the wiring was upgraded. Anyway, we'll see. If it doesn't work, I'll return it and be no worse off than I am now.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: gmiller1977 on March 13, 2021, 06:49:18 pm
I was thinking about the old wiring. Your house looks fairly old (not disparaging it, I like old houses) although old is relative. Our triplex isn't really old but it started as a duplex and the basement apartment we're in was added later. I think the guy that did the wiring was a do-it-yourselfer and didn't really understand what he was doing or just had to do it in an ad-hoc way. I doubt powerline adapters would work here.

As long as it's 14/2 or 14/3 and not aluminium it should be fine in terms of age and thus in terms of performance.  We had a friend buy a house 10 years ago and it still had knob and tubing in parts.

Unless there is something in the house that is sending out a LOT of interference or if there is a bad ground, performance should be fine.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: Jason on March 14, 2021, 03:52:54 am
As long as it's 14/2 or 14/3 and not aluminium it should be fine in terms of age and thus in terms of performance.  We had a friend buy a house 10 years ago and it still had knob and tubing in parts.

Unless there is something in the house that is sending out a LOT of interference or if there is a bad ground, performance should be fine.

It has aluminum wiring. I discovered that years ago when the outlets started sparking. I don't think that aluminum wiring should pair with copper outlets; I think it speeds up the corrosion. I couldn't believe how corroded the wire connecting to the outlets was.

Btw, having cats is a good early warning system for sounds like that. Years ago, I couldn't figure out why one of our cats kept jumping down into this corner. I thought he was neurotic. Turns out it was the outlet sparking on the inside. I only noticed it when I had the lights out and saw the little flashes. Now if a cat is near an outlet, I check.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: gmiller1977 on March 14, 2021, 10:22:01 am
That's crazy! Copper causes the wire to oxidize faster for sure.  If the box is old, and it's sparking, you can replace it with a newer box that is more compabile with alumnium.  I think there are kits to insulate the ends of the wire too.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: Jason on March 14, 2021, 09:38:06 pm
That's crazy! Copper causes the wire to oxidize faster for sure.  If the box is old, and it's sparking, you can replace it with a newer box that is more compabile with alumnium.  I think there are kits to insulate the ends of the wire too.

We've had them all replaced with aluminum sockets which aren't that easy to find from what the electrician told me.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: fox on March 15, 2021, 01:22:19 pm
The D-Link Powerline Av-2 1000 works pretty well. Installation was easy; there was nothing to fiddle with. You plug one of your adapters into the wall and an Ethernet port on your router. You plug the other one into an outlet near your computer and connect it to the computer with an Ethernet cable. The kit provides two Ethernet cables, though they're pretty short (3'). Speed was pretty good. I tested with Ubuntu on Firefox, and here are some comparative results:
- Powerline on Ubuntu - max 8.3 MB/sec; sustained ~7 MB/sec
- Same as above, but plugging Powerline into a power bar - max 3.5 MB/sec; sustained < 3 MB/sec
- LinkSys USB wifi dongle on Ubuntu - max 17.8 MB/sec; sustained ~8 MB/sec
- Direct Ethernet connection with Firefox on 2014 iMac running MacOS Big Sur - max 31.5 MB/sec; sustained ~25 MB/sec

It surprised me a bit that the USB wifi dongle was faster, though not much on a sustained basis. I'm guessing that the degradation through the house wiring is greater than that in the air. My computer is about 7 m away from the router, both on the same floor, with 1 wall and part of another separating the two and the kitchen in-between. Download speed took a big hit when I plugged the powerline adapter into a power bar at the computer side. This cut the download speed in half relative to plugging the powerline adapter directly into an outlet, but even there, the speed was 4-5x greater than when I tried the same kind of setup with a range extender and an Ethernet cable from the extender to my computer. (Also plugged into the power bar; I didn't know at the time that power bars degrade the signal.)

So is this worth buying? Assuming that your house wiring is OK and you can plug both adapters into plugs using the same panel box, and your wifi connection isn't so good, then I would say yes. I suspect that the degradation rate with distance to router and walls between them is greater with wifi than with this device. In my case, I think that it was the opposite only because I have a relatively ideal wifi situation. So why is this worth it to me when the wifi connection is stronger? It's specific to my 2019 iMac. My internal wifi doesn't work on Linux and for some reason, plugging in any more than 3 usb devices into this device causes it to freeze most of the time when booting up Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. (For some reason, 20.10 is fine, but it has a brightness problem that 20.04 doesn't have.) My usb wifi requires a 4th usb port. The other reason is that my Linksys usb wifi needed a non-automatic driver installed, so when testing a different distro, it doesn't see the wifi whereas it always sees an Ethernet connection. If the powerline keeps running like it is now, I would say it's worth the extra $80 to me.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: Jason on March 15, 2021, 03:22:55 pm
When you say "mb/s" do you mean megabytes or megabits? I assume the first or you'd probably say the connections but I just wanted to clarify. I think what Bill does and appears to be the correct way to do it (https://www.checkyourmath.com/convert/digital_storage/megabits_megabytes.php) is to Mb when referring to megabits and MB when referring to megabytes. For example, my internet connection is about 40 Mb/s which converts to 5 MB/s. I won't get into MiB and Mib for sake of simplicity.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: fox on March 15, 2021, 04:21:02 pm
Megabytes per second; fixed. My connection is either 300 Mb/s or 500 Mb/s; I'm not sure which.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: gmiller1977 on March 15, 2021, 08:07:33 pm
We've had them all replaced with aluminum sockets which aren't that easy to find from what the electrician told me.

You don't need to use aluminium for the boxes, there are other metals that work.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: gmiller1977 on March 15, 2021, 08:10:25 pm
Megabytes per second; fixed. My connection is either 300 Mb/s or 500 Mb/s; I'm not sure which.

MegaBYTES?  How are you testing this?
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: fox on March 15, 2021, 11:04:45 pm
I am testing this by looking at the download in Firefox. It gives the download speed as you are downloading.
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: Jason on March 16, 2021, 09:04:10 pm
MegaBYTES?  How are you testing this?

Using the parlance I mentioned, Fox is referring to BITS, not bytes. You must have amazing internet!
Title: Re: Powerline Networking
Post by: fox on March 17, 2021, 08:14:42 am
Using the parlance I mentioned, Fox is referring to BITS, not bytes. You must have amazing internet!
Yes, my service is crazy fast (500 Mbps download & upload); much more than I need. This is the result of Bell promos that kept increasing my speed without costing more money. They even offered to double what I have for another $10/mo, but I declined. This speed is wasted on me; we don't stream a lot and the only big downloads I ever do are to try out distros. That's why the slowdown using the powerline device doesn't matter. Before I switched from Cogeco, my internet package was 60 Mbps download, and that was fast enough.

I have now been using the powerline device for three days and so far, so good. Everything seems to work better on my 2019 iMac with the Ethernet-connected device than with my Linksys USB adapter, though don't ask me why. Perhaps it relates to power draw? The other day I downloaded Manjaro KDE version just to try it, and it was worth it to have internet connected automatically with the live distro. It does make my mad, though, that no distro recognizes the internal wifi card (BCM 4364 rev 3), nor the internal sound and mic of this very nice computer. But I'm now so used to Linux (at least Ubuntu), that using the Mac OS now is more difficult.

Update: I have now been using the D-Link Powerline for two weeks. Still very fast; no issues.

Update 2: Still working well for me. I noticed I am getting download speeds as high as 9 MiB/s.