Up to Airport Index Next

How to Configure your "Graphite" Apple Base Station with OS 9

Graphite ABS with vent holes

This short guide was written to assist folks who use "Graphite" base stations with Mac OS9. There are several additional guides on this site for other base stations and operating systems, namely: "Graphite" (OSX), "Snow" (OSX), and "Extreme" (OSX). Note: there is no Apple Admin Utility for "Extreme" base stations available for OS 9 users. You may be able to use one of the Java-based alternatives instead.

First, be sure to have the most recent Airport software (version 2.0.4) that will run on your OS (9.2.2). Among other things, it is alleged that plugging venerable "Silver" WaveLAN cards into Macs before the install also upgrades the WaveLAN firmware to the "Gold" standard, i.e. 128bit WEP. However, the cards will not benefit from this upgrade once they're put back into Graphite base stations, only when used with computers.


Be consistent in the version of the airport software on all computers that will be using the Airport network. Mismatches in versions can lead to hard-to-diagnose errors. When you upgrade a base station, also upgrade all client computers (i.e. computers that use the base station). Firmware mismatches seem to be at the root of many connection problems, and Apple has quietly released a number of Firmware upgrades in conjunction with Airport Software upgrades.

Starting the Process

Configuring the ABS is pretty easy as the information it demands from you is similar to the information the Assistant needs to configure your ABS. The only difference is that you have much better control over what the ABS will and will not do when you use the Admin Utility instead of the Assistant.

The best way to configure a ABS is via a cross-over ethernet cable to the LAN port of the ABS. That way, if the ABS has been reset to its factory default settings, the Admin utility will usually find it. If you own a Mac with a recent ethernet chip-set (Powerbook G4, for example) then you can use any ethernet cable as the chip-set will switch to cross-over mode "automagically".

Admin Utility Icon

After connecting the ethernet cable, locate the Apple "Airport Admin Utility" on your hard disk and launch it (be sure that this is the latest version). The Icon for the Utility should look like the one to the left. After you double-click it, the following window will appear.

Airport Base Station Admin Utility - Select Base Station

To configure, start off by double clicking on your ABS name in the window admin utility. If your unit went through a complete reset or is brand-new, it will appear here as a series of hexadecimal characters that correspond to the MAC address printed on the underside of the ABS.

The admin utility will ask for a password, and unless you've changed it, it is "public". After a firmware reset, the password also reverts back to "public".

If the password query was successful, the Airport firmware will be updated as needed, followed by a reset. If you have the latest firmware already on the ABS, the utility will launch into the set-up screen. In Version 2 and below, this screen is "tabbed" and the first and default tab is "Airport".

Most users would do well to just sequentially go through the various tabs, starting with the Airport Tab. I have ordered this how-to guide to follow them left-to-right. However, I leave it to you to decide where you want to start. Besides, all tab-guides are interconnected.

Start your engines! Let's Configure: