There is a ton of documentation on the internet about the ability to configure an Airport Base Station in Ubuntu/Kubuntu. Be careful! It isn’t as easy as some may make it seem.

Information can be found about the Ubuntu airport-utils software package on the Ubuntu web site. However they do not include any definitive information on how to get it working or even how to use it.

When you want to configure an Airport Base Station in linux, it seems the easy part is installing Ubuntu’s Airport Utilities package. In Kubuntu 10.10 just open Konsole and type:
sudo apt-get install airport-utils

From information I can actually find about the airport-utils package, it was developed quite a while back, and hasn’t really been kept up.

It seems, the airport-utils packages was developed to be compatible with the sun-java5-jre (Sun Java 5 Java Runtime Environment) or earlier. I have found many instances refering to this Java package, or others around the same time. In just about every instance, the conversation is about compatibility issues with the various JavaJRE’s which are newer than this.

So, what do we do?

Well, I have Apple’s Airport Extreme Base Station, and this document is the steps that worked for me.


First, lets find out which Java packages are installed on your machine. Keep this command handy, you may want to refer back to it later.
dpkg -l *gcj* *sun-java* *openjdk*
(I found this particular command here)

This command will provide output, divided into four columns. The first column is the Desired/Status/Error Column. Then you have columns for Name, Version and Description.

If your system is similar to mine, you would probably see these lines, towards the bottom of the output:

ii | sun-java6-bin 6.22-0ubuntu1~10.10 | Sun Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 6
un | sun-java6-fonts  | (no description available)
ii | sun-java6-jre  6.22-0ubuntu1~10.10 | Sun Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 6
ii | sun-java6-plugin 6.22-0ubuntu1~10.10 | The Java Plug-in, Java SE 6

If you have OpenOffice or LibreOffice installed, you could show a couple other lines as well.

Well what we have to do is find a JavaJRE which is more similar to the sun-java5-jre, which isn’t readily available any more.

The gcj-4.4 software packages is much closer to what airport-utils was design to use. So, if you do not see that the gcj-4.4-jdk and gcj-4.4-jre packages are installed, we need to do that next.
sudo apt-get install gcj-4.4-jre gcj-4.4-jdk fastjar

This should create a sybolic link (shortcut) called java-1.5.0-gcj or java-gcj-4.4in:

You need to know what this symbolic link was called. We will be using it in the next instructions. I is a symbolic link to the java-1.5.0-gcj-4.4 directory. In my installation it was:

Finally, we can run the airport configuration utility.

If you have the older Airport Base Station, you will run:
/usr/lib/jvm/java-gcj-4.4/bin/java -jar /usr/share/java/airport-utils/AirportBaseStationConfig.jar

If you have the newer Airport Base Station, you will want to run:
/usr/lib/jvm/java-gcj-4.4/bin/java -jar /usr/share/java/airport-utils/Airport2BaseStationConfig.jar
(I got the idea for this particular command here)

If you don’t know which one you have, read Ubuntu airport-utils software package.

It is a cinch, if you bought a new Air Port Base Station, within the last year to 18 months, you will be using the latter option. Both options may run fine, but according to the Ubuntu web site, there is a very distinct reason you need one or the other.