Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

A word of warning about the Netgear WG 111

The upgrade I mentioned in the previous entry has now been done. I’ll write more about it later (probably) but for now I want to pass on a word of warning about the USB Wifi dongle that we bought for the upgrade, which in this case was the Netgear WG 111.
When you install the drivers for the device, it replaces your ‘GINA’ (Graphical Identification and Authentication) library with a third-party one, probably to allow authentication to a wireless network. Now this will happen regardless of whether you are using Windows XP Professional, which can connect to a login domain, or XP Home, which can’t. And if you are using XP Home, this means that you get the standard login box where you have to enter a username and password, rather than choose from a graphical list as per default (sometimes known as ‘family logon’). Furthermore, when you try to change it back using the Users control panel, it tells you that you can’t, with a rather cryptic error message.
The solution is quite simple, and provided you aren’t connecting to an authenticated wireless network (i.e. one where a username and password is required), it won’t break anything. Doug Knox, who I believe is one of Microsoft’s MVPs, has a small program which you can run to correct the behaviour back to Windows’ default – it’s available here. Install that after you have installed the drivers for the Netgear device.
As a sidenote, I am unsure if this affects all versions of the drivers (it certainly affected the copy on the CD) so it may now have been fixed. And I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s not a reason to buy the dongle. But you should be aware that this happens as it’s not immediately straightforward to fix.

One Comment

  1. We have a Linksys adapter which does the same thing. I was using it with a coworker’s computer I was cleaning viruses off of, and when the graphical login screen disappeared I thought it had picked up a new virus that I couldn’t get rid of.