Wireless network security problem

This is weird. I have an N class wireless router (Linksys WRT160N) with the latest firmware. With my Vista laptop, it works perfectly at any security settings, even the highest. But if I use any security settings at all on my XP SP3 laptop, it never connects, even though I cut and paste the encryption key from the same source file. It only works if I turn off all security, which is unacceptable.

What happens if I use any security is this: I select the network, press connect, then enter the encryption key. A window comes up with the title “Wireless Network Connection” with a constantly scrolling progress bar below the words “Waiting for the network to be ready”. After several minutes, the window just closes without any error message, but without connecting, either.

The oddest thing is that the same XP laptop connects perfectly to an AT&T wireless connection with WPA security!

What can I do?

I don’t have anything of direct substance to add, but —in case no one does— you are in luck. Linksys has (IMHO) fantastic customer service and tech support. Of course some operators are better than others, but generally speaking, they are outstanding. They have chat and telephone support, both 24 hours a day. They also have a message board that has some very good regulars (many of whom are also regulars on an unofficial Linksys board with custom firmware).

I’ve had operators stick with me through a problem, conferencing with other techs to figure things out, and many times answer what in the end seemed like a routine, easy question (i.e., they have patience to deal with the difficult things and patience to deal with idiotic questions). Again, there’s always the luck of the draw, but all in all I’ve had consistently good interactions.

To give you an idea of how much I’ve had to draw on them over time, consider that I’m technically adept but by no means an IT professional (or even an IT lackey. Or an IT lackey’s lackey), but in our home office we have a Linksys 310N, WRT54G (acting as a switch off the 310), NAS200 (network attached storage), two or three NICs, a couple wireless adaptors, a Gigabit switch, wireless print server, and an VOIP phone adaptor. I don’t think I left anything out, but it’s all tied together and working with three PCs, two Macs, a Linux box, and a media server. Yes, I’ve dealt with their tech support a lot (my wife thinks I’m a smartypants. Shhh!).

So, sorry I couldn’t directly address your problem, but if no one comes along (or now, if you get impatient) they should be able to help.

Good luck!

Make sure you are using a hexidecimal encryption key. The conversion of text passphrases to binary keys is not standardized between wireless equipment manufacturers. Yes it is a royal pain to type in all those freaking digits twice when you can’t see them.

Thanks for your thorough reply, Rhythmdvl. You are absolutely right about Linksys’s excellent tech support! A few months back, one of their operators did such an extraordinary job assisting me that I felt compelled to send an email praising her work to her supervisor. The supervisor was thrilled to get such positive feedback! But I can’t imagine that they don’t get plenty of it.

In fact, I had been helped by four Linksys chat operators already on this issue (each time I had to change and save the settings, I lost the connection and had to reconnect). But the fifth couldn’t help me, so I posted here. I’ll try again tomorrow.

But XP doesn’t ask for the key in hex – it asks for it in plain text. At least it does so for WPA and WPA2. Or is there something I’m missing?