Ubiquity Upgrade Fiasco

[⚠️ This is a blow-by-blow ranty post about what happened when Ubiquity screwed up a software upgrade ⚠️]

This morning has been… a journey.

Our Wifi coverage has been kinda 💩 at the new house because there’s way more space between us and the Access Point.

So, let’s just run some ethernet across the floor for now! Should be quick! 🤦🏻‍♀️

We run it into my wife’s iMac. No problem. All good. Fast fast. Another cable, through her office, past front door, into my office, And…. “wait… wtf do i plug this into?”

Flashback to about two weeks ago: When we moved in the Ubiquity setup needed administering because… who knows. It did, and we needed internet, because “duh”. We don’t have a hardware controller (yet) and have to use the stupid Java app, but couldn’t get on the wifi to administer it because it needed administering. So we went with the fastest option, buying an ethernet adapter from Staples down the road, even though that meant another potential exposure incident. We like getting paid and being able to pay our mortgage.

They had two options. A “thunderbolt” adapter and a USB-A adapter. “Thunderbolt” is, of course, a useless term when your goal is to figure out if it will fit into one of the holes in your device. They showed something that MAY have been USB-C and MAY have been the mini-display port shaped thing the older macs had. There was no side-view to confirm. Fortunately I have both options available (yay old computers). We bought both adapters just in case. It turned out to be the old style, which is fine, because that’s where the stupid Java app lived.

Back to today: The “Thunderbolt” adapter is useless for this modern mac which has Thunderbolt, but we had the USB-A adapter. Ethernet to USB-A adapter into USB-A to USB-C adapter into new mac, because Apple cares more about selling you more dongles than a good user experience.

The speed is terrible. Google says “Oh Ethernet->USB-A adapters are crap and max out at 100Gb”. Well that didn’t help at all.

But hey, our friend was kind enough to send us a loaner access point we hadn’t tried plugging in yet because OMG MOVING AND LIFE. So i plug it in.

Now, let’s configure that thing. Boot up the stupid Ubiquity Java app. “Unable to load Java Runtime” …WTF? I booted this like 2 weeks ago and it was fine?! Google says “install java” UGH I’ve avoided that for years, I guess it was running some that came with my mac but… whatever. Fine. I’ll install the latest Java.

[BEGIN tangent] Side note: Oracle’s marketing department has NO fucking clue what Java is because they think this is a reasonable representation of people who download Java and what they’re doing while downloading it. Ignoring the fact that we’re in an industry dominated by white males, no-one is all “doo-de-doo I’m just layin' here on the floor. I think I’ll download Java. That sounds fun! See how happy I am?” No. No-one is fucking happy to download Java, including Java developers, and I speak from experience here. It’s way less annoying than it was 15 years ago, but it always involves more BS and legalese than it needs to. I’m surprised they didn’t try and trick me into downloading NetBeans. Is that still a thing? [END tangent]

ANYWAY… I download and install Java. I reboot the Ubiquity controller. It has me launch a browser to connect to the local server. All good. All normal.

New UI. ….wtf? New UI that’s all “Hey welcome to Ubiquity!” Hofuck. Not good. “Enter a username and password” [type type] “Nah, that one’s no good” “oh shit.” [reread the instructions and enter my passy for the Ubiquity web site].

There’s a “Or restore from backup” at the bottom, which sounds like a great option right now except that the old UI never told me to make a backup or that that was even a thing it could do.

I forge onward.

You have no devices Connect devices to your network.

At this point I am connected to the internet via the old Access point which is plugged into a Ubiquity switch, which is plugged into a Ubiquity Security Gateway… and on to the internet. ALL THE !@#$!$@ DEVICES ARE CONNECTED!!!!

Now, it turns out this is actually a security feature. The devices that are connected are like “we’re managed by someone else. We ain’t letting you touch us.” That way some random schmoe out on the street can’t take over your network, which is great, if there’s a random schmoe on the street looking to get into your network but pretty fucking terrible when Ubiquity has somehow managed to upgrade your software without telling you and without asking if you wanted to make a !#@$!@ backup first.

Note that this isn’t like a App store app. It has never auto-upgraded behind the scenes in all the years I’ve had it installed (at least that I was aware of) and I definitely haven’t upgraded it in the last couple weeks. Even if I somehow managed to tell it to upgrade, and then completely forgot about it, it should have never actually upgraded because I didn’t have the required Java it needed. This has two separate, and glaringly obvious paths to screwing over the user.

The way to get around this lovely “feature” is to do a hardware reset. To do a hardware reset you need a paperclip.

You know what I don’t happen to have in my possession? A !@$##$@ paperclip. We found a safety pin, but that just stabbed into the plastic button. Eventually we found a teeny-weeny Allen wrench that happened to fit in the hole. Reset it. Software didn’t see it. Nuffin…. Then (despite my having refreshed the page) it suddenly saw it. Said it showed up “4 minutes ago”. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Great, except it’s bypassing the security gateway and just going straight to the internet via our router. Presumably because the security gateway is managed by some “other” network.

Wheee I’m standing naked on the Internet Superhighway!

The next step is to poke every device on our network with the Allen wrench and then go through the steps to recreate the network we had in order to be able to control it because Ubiquity felt like upgrading some software without permession, warning, or any way to transition smoothly.

Except, I can’t do that because you know, work, and meetings over the internet. I sigh and go back to my desk, switch to the wifi that has been functional and really slow, but at least has a hardware firewall.

I can’t connect to the internet. It’s like. “Umm…. urrr…. maybe…. um. I … I think I can see it. It’s so far away though. " I’ve got an RSSI of -73 Db, which is low but should be more functional than it is. I have no idea what RSSI stands for but I understand decibels as they affect radio waves if it gets too quiet you’ve got issues. My computer still says 5 bars of wifi but in practice no web page loads.

The same computer, on the same wifi, on the same access point, going into the same hardware that it’s been in for like two weeks… Turns out the new access point is clobbering the old access point because they’re probably on the same channel because they’re not all being managed in a coordinated manner by the controller. 🤦🏻‍♀️

🔥 FUCK YOU 2020. 🔥

It works in the living room still. I just have to give up my monitor, my keyboard, my camera, and my microphone. But, you know… no biggie. That’s not disruptive.

Maybe I should just consider myself lucky it isn’t all on fire.

At least in the new version of the Unifi Controller it’s all “you want me to do automatic backups?” right at the start, which is great. Would have been great if it did it with the old one too. Would have been better if i also knew where they were. Would have been even better if I didn’t find myself suddenly needing them because some jackwad at Ubiquity thought it’d be a good idea to upgrade my network controller and wipe all my settings without asking!!!

I was actually intending to be productive today. To do a little more work for our client. Really though? All my spoons have been used up on this stupid ass spontaneous “upgrade”.

Oh, and next week we’ll have a hardware controller coming in. If I could have done this in a controlled manner as intended next week, I would have found out there was an ability to backup your settings in the old software, and then restore them to the new hardware.

As an aside: I still think Ubiquity hardware is amazing, and in general their software is pretty damn excellent, and we’re happily throwing more money at them, but this situation still sucks.

[update] The old wifi stopped working in any meaningful way for the 2019 mac. Is usable on the 2013 mac sitting on the same desk.