Usefulness of Apple Airport Extreme

I recently acquired an Apple Airport Extreme (5th gen) to, well, have something to play with. Unfortunately it seems largely useless. USB disk sharing only happens via SMB v1, which is not ideal. Wireless standard is only 802.11n, which is potentially useful as a backup/IoT wireless network, but I’m not sure which WPA revision it supports.

At the moment I have it configured in bridge mode w/ wireless disabled so I can use it as a Gigabit hub and uplink to my Powerline “backbone”. No final verdict yet on its viability in this role.

One irony I discovered is that the iOS and macOS Airport utilities are largely useless. Trying to set up anything other than a very simple SOHO setup was impossible - I kept getting uninformative errors. I had to use the Windows Airport configurator to be able to set up bridge mode and shut down wifi.

Back in the day I had heard that the Airports were surprisingly reliable and easy to set up. But after a couple of hours beating my head against the iOS Airport Utility I’d have to disagree.

Is there anyway to put 3rd party firmware on it or otherwise extend its functionality?

They’re actually pretty good at doing wireless connectivity, but if you aren’t planning to use that… pretty pointless.

And yeah they nerfed the later version(s) of the airport configuration utility. I think you can download the old version still.

But really, modern networks are going to general purpose internet and the endpoints are all secured/tunnel to the server.

the days of advanced network stuff for small networks is coming to an end. because you can’t trust something just because its on a specific network any more. trust nothing.

The Windows utility does expose more functionality than the newer iOS client. There is some stuff about IPv6 Teredo tunnels in there, though I am not sure if it is lagging behind modern IPv6 implementations. This is something I should probably learn about.

As others have mentioned, the Mac and iOS Airport Utility apps suffered a significant feature reduction a few years back. Pretty much a lobotomy actually. Turned a basic but functional home router into a door stop. Okay, I exaggerate. But not by much…

Happened at the time when Apple got the idea that the only way to simplify any product was to rip out features. They did something similar to the Disk Utility application. Fortunately, in that case you could still access the missing features via the terminal.

Glad to here the Windows version of the application didn’t suffer the same fate.