03 August 2008

Setting up a basic MikroTik hotspot

Setting up a basic MikroTik hotspot

Mikrotik RouterOS includes an excellent hotspot solution. Read on for details on getting a basic hotspot going using RouterOS on any standard x86 PC hardware or a RouterBOARD.

The RouterOS hotspot solution is very powerful and only the very basics of the solution are covered here; just enough to get you started.


This article assumes you want to set up a basic hotspot as shown in the diagram below. If you have a DNS server integrated into your router the same rule applies, just use the router IP for your DNS server as well.

To help get you started MikroTik now include a combined RADIUS server and si

mple web administration package for RouterOS called the User Manager. This provides a much simpler means of user administration then the command line or Winbox. The User Manager package is included standard with all versions of RouterOS from about 2.9.35 onwards.

Advanced users might wish to provide their own RADIUS server, however this is outside the scope of this article.

Getting the Hotspot to Work

First of all you will need to have a copy of RouterOS. You can purchase a license or download a 24-hour trial from Mikrotik. RouterBOARDs also usually come with RouterOS pre-licensed and installed. You will also need a computer with at least a 100MHz CPU, 32MB RAM and an IDE hard disk, or a RouterBOARD. Either method you choose will need a compatible wireless card and Ethernet adapter, or two Ethernet adapters with one connected to a standard wireless access point. You should check your hardware against the RouterOS compatibility list.

If you are installing RouterOS for the first time, download the ISO image from Mikrotik and burn it to CD. Note that installation of RouterOS will completely wipe the contents of the hard disk! Boot the PC off this CD and install the following packages:

  • System
  • DHCP
  • Wireless
  • Hotspot
  • Proxy
  • User Manager (optional)
  • Security (optional - recommended)
  • Advanced tools (optional)

Now to get started. Log onto the PC as admin with no password. If this box intended for deployment, change set a password by typing in password at the prompt. Change the hostname by typing in name.

Assign an IP address to each interface. As this is going to be set up as a router, they will need to be on a different subnet. Substitute wlan1 with ether2 if you have a separate access point.

Now we need to add a default route to the IP of the internet router.

Enable the wireless interface and set it to run as an access point as below. If you have an access point instead, ignore the command below, make sure it is running with no security enabled, use a suitable SSID and channel and change its admin password.

    [admin@Mikrotik]> interface wireless set wlan1 ssid="My HotSpot" band=2.4ghz-b mode=ap-bridge

Run the hotspot setup as below. Substitute the values in italics to suit your network. The user account bears no relation to the admin account and is used for the hotspot service only. You may also need to add a host record to your DNS server for the hostname of the hotspot box. Make sure the address pool does not conflict with any devices using static IPs, such as access points.

    [admin@MikroTik] > ip hotspot setup
    hotspot interface: wlan1
    local address of network:
    masquerade network: yes
    address pool of network:
    select certificate: none
    ip address of smtp server:
    dns servers:
    dns name: hotspot.mydomain.net (or leave this blank)
    name of local hotspot user: user
    password for the user: password

That’s the guts of it there. Fire up your laptop, associate to the network and try to access a web page. You should be redirected to the hotspot login page instead where you can enter the user credentials you set up earlier. Click the thumbnails for a full view of the default page.

You should now be able to access the web normally and a pop-up window will display your connection time and data usage as you go.

Bear in mind I have left out the certificate so usernames and passwords will be sent as plain text. If you intend on deploying the hotspot, you should install a certificate on it and set up SSL to protect account data from being sniffed.

Setting up User Manager

The User Manager is a nice and simple web administration for setting up user account for the MikroTik hotspot and other services. It can be hosted on either the same box as the hotspot or located in a separate box on the same local network. One User Manager package can control multiple hotspots.

Before getting the User Manager set up, check for any existing hotspot account and remove them. To do this, run the following command:

    [admin@MikroTik] > ip hotspot user print
    Flags: X - disabled, D - dynamic
    0 fred default 0s

If any items are listed (in this case bob), run the following command to remove them:

    [admin@MikroTik] > ip hotspot user remove 0

You can delete multiple items at the same time, simply separate each item number with a comma.

To get the User Manager working we first need to add a customer login. This is used to access the UM web administration. Make sure you substitute the values in italics to suit.

[admin@MikroTik] > tool user-manager customer add login=hs_admin password=password

Now we need to add the hotspot as a RADIUS client to the user manager. This is done under the user manager router section. The shared secret can be any string of text and should be reasonably long and complex. If you are setting the user manager up on the same box as the hotspot, use for the IP address.

[admin@MikroTik] > tool user-manager router add ip-address=hotspot-ip shared-secret=12345 subscriber=hs_admin

In return, we need to set up the hotspot to use RADIUS for user authentication. First this involves creating a RADIUS client to communicate with the UM. Remember that if you have both services on the same box, the IP address should be set to The secret should be the same as you set up above.

[admin@MikroTik] > radius add service=hotspot address=ip-address secret=12345

Now we tell the hotspot itself to use a RADIUS client. First bring up a list of hotspot profiles:

admin@MikroTik] > ip hotspot profile print

Locate the profile in use and type the following command where 1 is the number of the profile to configure:

[admin@MikroTik] > ip hotspot profile set 1 use-radius=yes

Now we are done with configuration. Browse to http://router-ip/userman where router-ip is the IP address of the box you are configuring UM on. Login using the customer username and password created earlier.

Click on the User menu and select Add. Enter in a username, password and any other details you wish. You can limit the speed the client can access the internet by selecting the Rate limits checkbox and typing in a suitable speed (e.g. for a flat 128kBps download/64kBps upload speed limit simply type in 128k in the RX field and 64k in the TX field).

Click Add and you should be able to now access the hotspot using the username and password you specified. If you want to generate a printable ticket for the users you set up, click on the Users link, select the users to make a ticket for, click Generate and select the number of tickets per page.

Other Tips

You can also go a step further and play with some other available options, as this only skims the surface of the hotspot capabilities. I’ll post more notes as I play with additional options.

  • To disable communication between wireless clients (recommended), disable the default forward option on the wireless interface.
      interface wireless set wlan1 default-forward=disabled
  • To set up a walled garden (pages people can access without authenticating), use the following command:
  • To limit client bandwidth type the following, replacing profilename with the current hotspot profile in use and speed with the rate limit in bits per second:
      ip hotspot profile set profilename rate-limit=”speed
  • You can customise the login and status pages by editing the files in the hotspot directory of the Mikrotik box. You can access these via FTP.

DNS Mikrotik

(instead of using DHCP on the ether1 port)

Use care in selecting the DNS SERVER IP address in the setup below. You MUST select an actual DNS server or a router which provides DNS services. Some routers (such as the Hawking FR24) provide a "DNS RELAY" feature on the gateway address which redirects DNS service requests that are sent to the router Gateway Address to some downstream DNS Server. Such "dns relay" service is not always compatible with the Mikrotik system. Other routers (such as the NexLand 800 Turbo and many other router setups) do provide normal DNS Services on the gateway address. In many routers it may depend on user programming.

The Mikrotik router will NOT resolve DNS properly for the Hotspot unless the pointer to a DNS server source points to a "real" DNS Server or a router which actually provides DNS SERVICES on the Gateway address. The result of no DNS service will be that your hotspot login screen will not be loaded when "any URL" is transmitted to the ether2 (Hotspot) port via your browser. This problem can be very confusing to diagnose.

You can test what DNS address you should setup in the Mikrotik unit by running an ip configuration test on a Windows equipped computer connected to your router that you also intend your Mikrotik to use for internet access. Proceed as follows:

b) In your windows computer, in network settings, select tcp/ip properties, and select "obtain an IP address automatically" and "obtain DNS server address automatically". Click OK and exit and reboot if necessary to activate the new settings. Then execute Setup>Run>
then enter <winipcfg>, click OK, (windows 95/98), or <ipconfig>, (or perhaps wntipcfg), click OK, (windows XP/NT/2000), In Windows , you may have to download the winipcfg.exe (or similar) module from the resources folder on the install disk to get this to work. You will get a display such as the image below when you get the ip configuration display and click
Note in this example, the DNS SERVER reported is which IS the same as the Default Gateway and the downstream router (not Mikrotik) IP address. THIS IS NOT ALWAYS SO! The DNS server found by the DHCP operation of your windows computer may be in an entirely different range from the default gateway IP address. Thus, if you use a fixed IP address/Gateway/DNS Server selection, your Mikrotik router DNS Server setup MUST use the DNS Server found by a computer with DHCP Client operating as above. You cannot assume it is the same as your router's default gateway address.

Once you have the downstream router's Gateway address and DNS Server address defined, select an IP address for your Mikrotik unit and proceed as follows. (Here, we are assuming that your Mikrotik System's IP address and mask is, Gateway of the downstream router is and that the DNS Server's IP address is Make any changes you deem necessary.)
[admin@MikroTik] interface>

(Note: The address (below) represents the PUBLIC INTERNET side IP address of the Mikrotik Router. Change to your own suitable address as may be required.)
(All commands must be all in one continuous string (no carriage returns even if the red command characters are shown on multiple lines) when input and followed at the end by a carriage return. Be careful to look for parts of commands on second and even third lines in the listings below. The /24 after the IP address is equivalent to stating that the mask is
29b) [admin@MikroTik] ip> address add address= comment="TechNet LAN to Internet" interface=ether1
29c) [admin@MikroTik] ip> route add gateway=
(The following test will locate your public ethernet port . Proceed as follows. You may PING your gateway address ( in the example) which pinging will occur out the ether1 NIC port. Notes: You may also ping some other address if you wish. You can stop the PING command by entering at any time.) Now we test to see that we are connected to the internet by pinging "some" known IP address such as:)

(Note: This next command normally sets your system up so that all DNS calls go directly to the ISP's DNS servers. If you are behind another router/firewall you could (probably) use the gateway address of your router (as is done in the example) as many do provide DNS service. However, pointing directly to the ISP's DNS servers is usually faster.)
29d) [admin@MikroTik] ip> /ip dns set primary-dns= (Change to YOUR ISPs DNS servers. Or- This may be the gateway IP address of a LAN router (as this actually is) which has DNS services. You may be able to change to YOUR ISP's recommended DNS server IP address if permitted by your router and operation will likely be faster.)
29e) [admin@MikroTik] ip> /ip dns set secondary-dns= (Add a secondary DNS server if your ISP has one. This example is one of earthlink's DNS servers.)

IF you wish to install a DNS Cache in your Hotspot router so DNS requests will be handled out of the local cache instead of going to the router (or external ISP) each time, enter the following line.
29f) [admin@MikroTik] ip> /ip dns-cache set primary-server= (This sets up the dns-cache to access from the LOCAL ROUTER’s DNS server. You may wish to change the above two IP addresses to your ISP’s DNS IP address if permitted by your router. You can also use the
/ip dns-cache set secondary-server=xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx
to set up a secondary DNS-CACHE server if you wish.

29g) [admin@MikroTik] ip> dns print
primary-dns: (This should be your primary DNS server IP address.)
secondary-dns: (You should setup a secondary-dns server if you have one.)
and then:
29h) [admin@MikroTik] ip> dns-cache print
enabled: no (You get to enable it later when you setup the hotspot.)
primary-server: (This should be your primary DNS server IP address.)
secondary-dns: (You should setup a secondary-dns server (in step #19) if you have one.)
running: no (It will start running if you enable "use DNS CACHE" when you setup the hotspot.)
usage: 0%
entries: 0

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