THE QORVUS NEWSLETTER
October 1, 2005 - Vancouver, WA

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Welcome to the third edition of Qnews™, Qorvus Systems quarterly newsletter. We'll do our best to make it both brief and useful.  As always, your suggestions are most welcome.

Thanks,
Tom Sharples
President
tsharples@qorvus.net


New MeshAP mailing list

Several weeks ago we introduced a newmeshAP mailing list using the sophisticated Google groups system. This includes an easy-to-use searchable archive, and it’s uncensored (except for material that would cause us legal problems or the like). This stands in sharp contrast to the original LW meshAP group that’s closely monitored, heavily censored, and frequently ejects participants without warning or explanation!. To avoid spam-bots, you do have to be a member to read the contents and search the archive, but anyone may join. Here’s the link:

http://groups.google.com/group/Qorvus-MeshAP

Feel free to post any questions, comments, or advice regarding mesh installation, operation, management, billing, antenna links, suppliers of wireless technology, etc. We have found that our users often have insights or feature requests that are very helpful and that wouldn’t have occurred to us here at headquarters.

Also, if you haven't looked lately at our meshforum or meshnotes, this would be a great time- we've really expanded the available information on both sites quite a bit over the past few months.

Customer Portal

There’s a very useful Customer Portal on the Qorvus website, it’s the first link under the Services area on the left-hand side of the main page. It contains a lot of very helpful information and many new capabilities including your node status, geographic mapping, help and order ticket management, your contact information, and lots of other help features as well.  But many of our clients have never looked at it, so we’d like to invite and encourage you to have a look.  We think you’ll really like it, and we would welcome your suggestions for improvements and enhanced functions. If you don’t already have or know your login or password just contact us.

Recent Projects

We’ve just completed Phase 1 of a complex mesh installation at the NetEquality Project. This very worthwhile “digital divide” effort provides internet access to about 600 low-income families in three subsidized housing projects in a one-mile stretch of north Portland, Oregon. Since there was no internet service available within this hilly and tree-laden area, we engineered a pair of long-distance links from our headquarters to the target area using dual-radio Qnodes driving parabolic antennas, and installed single and dual radio Qnodes and QnodeJr’s to provide coverage throughout the large complex.  Backhaul is provided by a combination 2.4 Ghz and 5.8 Ghz Qnode links back to our fiber hub located at Electric Lightwave. A detailed write-up on this project and photos are available here.

Latest software!

Directed by Adam Sayler, our team has been quietly and diligently working on improvements to our flagship Qcode software, and is just finalizing the release of the latest version, Qcode 3.0. This version has a number of significant improvements over the previous releases, including:

  • Support for Atheros 5 Ghz radios including the high-powered SR5. There’s been skeletal OS support for Atheros using the madwifi drivers for several months, but it wasn’t really usable because of bandwidth bottlenecks and lack of support for critical link-distance settings. Qcode now supports those settings and has eliminated the bottlenecks, as well as providing support for several Atheros-specific rate and power functions. We’ve been very excited by the performance on both short and long-distance links, and are seeing net data-rates of up to 20 Mb/s and 15 Mb/s respectively.
  • Geographic node mapping functions. This very cool capability, just being added to code base and our servers here at Headquarters, allows you to see all of your nodes overlaid on a Google satellite-image mapping system. This feature supports zoom in and out, balloon mouse-over information on each node, and link-quality graphics between nodes at a glance.
  • Static WDS link node associations  If you’ve experienced uneven link performance caused by marginal nodes creating unwanted WDS bridges, this feature solves that problem by allowing you to specify only a specific node that will allow WDS association.
  • Email alarm system Qcode 3.0 supports using your customer log-in at the Qorvus website to monitor basic node status information, and to generate an alarm email if a node fails to check in after a given interval of time. This has been reported to us as the most important single feature of LW pro- now you can have it at no additional charge J
  • Link-testing function built into the GUI when you click on the “Show Active Nodes” link on the Status page, you will see an additional column next to the ping test. This will invoke a link-test from the selected node to the node you’re currently in, and report the net bandwidth of that test. This will work through single or multiple hops and is a great tool to help troubleshoot radio link or setup bottlenecks.
  • SSL Qcode GUI interface This lets you to log into the Qcode GUI using https:// instead of http://, improving system and password security when logging into a node locally.
  • Various minor enhancements Sigspy now can run for either wlan0 or wlan1, previously it only worked for wlan0. Remote node identity info is now reported on the GUI even if captive portal is turned off on that node (previously it would report “no response”)
  • Ethernet transparent bridging with AODV routing (what LW calls “clustering”) for ethernet-connected nodes or wireless bridges is now supported
  • Separate kernels for WRAP and miniITX. We now supply Qcode with a different kernel for WRAP-PCengines based nodes (like QnodeJr). The WRAP kernel support a variety of wrap-specific hardware functions including correct NatSemi ethernet drivers, hardware watchdog timer, and support for the three LEDs on the WRAP board, which now show progressive boot status of the system on power up. Reliability and up-time for WRAP-based repeaters has improved by an order of magnitude since we started to use this new kernel
  • Various bug-fixes in Qcode 2.5  Manual setting of wireless data rate now works properly on startup.
    The tendency for the Qcode GUI to occasionally shut down on wrap-based systems has been fixed.
    The captive portal splash testing system has been modified for more reliability, and several appearance bugs in the GUI have been addressed.

We expect the new code to be available in about 2 weeks- we’ll announce it on our website and send out a separate e-mail announcement to our existing customers.  It will be downloadable by running “qupdate 3.0” on the command line, or on the general page in the GUI. As always, we recommend “going slow” in updating your live network to make sure there aren’t issues we haven’t found in our testing.  Patches for such issues are generally very quickly available via our Qupate system- just let us know right away if you find anything, either via support@qorvus.net or phone.

New team member!

As our Qnode customers know all too well, we’ve had trouble keeping up with the increasing demand for our Qnodes. Having tried several times to expand our production capability by using outside assembly houses (apparently our standards are too high J ) we are pleased to announce that Kelly McNiece has joined our team as Manufacturing Manager. Kelly brings a strong background in both network engineering and quality assurance to Qorvus, and he has gotten up to speed remarkably quickly. You’ve probably already noticed quicker turn-around times for your orders. We are dependent on outside suppliers for much of our inventory, and we still can’t do much about worldwide shortages for radios, wrap boards or POE modules, but the challenges we can control are now much better in hand. 

Radius and billing Packages:

Build your own:

We’ve now got integration into FreeRadius down to a fine art, and can set up the required glue between your mesh and an existing installation of Freeradius in just a couple of hours. Please note that you do need to have a default Freeradius installation running on your server; this will take you around 4 hours of routine command-line installation time. We can also help you integrate other commercial radius / billing systems, but the amount of time we’ll need will vary depending on the specifics of your setup.

Or buy a turn-key setup:

For start-up WISP applications we continue to recommend the CMUPS system from Feeedpro

Odds and ends...

No more Qspot….

We’ve reluctantly decided to pull the plug on this hotspot billing software offering, primarily because it was too difficult to integrate with the way that most of our customers operate their business (central server-based radius and billing) and because there’s just not enough end-user demand for “pay for play” hotspot or hot-zone systems anymore.

Terms and Conditions:

We would like to call attention again to the standard terms and conditions under which we supply equipment, technical support or development services. By becoming a client or user of of Qorvus Systems, Inc. supplied  products or information you agree to these conditions.

Once again, we really appreciate your ongoing support, and wish you all the very best for a healthy and prosperous fall 2005.

Thanks!

Your Team at Qorvus Systems:


Tom, Darwin, Adam, George, Kelly, Gary, and Shirley

Sales: Please contact George Evans via sales@qorvus.net  or 800.960.3327

Business Development, VAR and OEM: Please contact Darwin Melnyk via dmelnyk@qorvus.net or 503.806.0121

 


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Qorvus Systems, Inc.

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