Jeff Goeke-Smith

April 17, 2021

From Google On-Hub to Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine Pro

Context: I recently migrated my home network from a first generation Asus Google Onhub device to a UniFi Dream Machine. The Onhub has been doing the job of operating my home network since 2016, and on the whole, has done reasonably well.  I have, however, hit the limits of what I can do reasonably with it with regards to vlans and multiple networks, so, after surveying the space, decided to try the Ubiquiti UniFi line.  The device that most matched the Onhub was the somewhat new UniFi Dream Machine.  

This is not a set of notes about how to do the process that is documented.  This is a set of notes regarding additional documentation that I wish I had while I was doing the setup.

Since I'm interested in the cloud monitoring, and the cloud capabilities, I went through the process of setting this up with a Ubiquiti cloud account.  If you want to run no cloud, I expect this might be difficult for you.  

The UniFi Dream Machine is, effectively, 4 parts of the UniFi system jammed in a single, very slick packaged case.  In presentation, both in packaging, and as a device, it very much feels like the Onhub, or an Apple product.  Unfortunately, that attention to detail was lost with the included documentation card, that includes a link via a qr code, that at time of writing, has a prompt for a password and nothing else.

Initial setup was done via the 'UniFi Network' app.  When power is applied to the device, it will not be discoverable by the app until you hear it do a three chime sequence.  Getting to the point where I heard a three chime sequence took 3 power cycles, with 5 minutes between power cycles.  I have not determined why that was.  

The UDM provides 4 independent services in a single device.  Wifi access point, internet router, switch, and UniFi controller.  Understanding that these three are basically independent of each other takes some getting used to, as the control interface very much does attempt to unify it.

The defaults worked, and worked reasonably well.  Leaving the system set completely on defaults will result in a functional setup for the vast majority of situations.

A stumbling block that I ran into is that I am attempting to integrate this device into my existing network, which has existing SSIDs, vlan allocations, and IP allocations.  Obviously, the UniFi system has no idea that this exists and makes some reasonable, but wrong for me, default selections.  Less obviously, the control interface as of the time I write this, has both a classic and new mode.  The new mode lacks certain features, like letting you select the ip address of the networks you configure, or the vlan identifiers. Enabling classic mode was necessary for me to place the configuration in a valid state for my network.

If you want to interact with the firewall rule sets, you currently need to be on the classic interface.  This isn't the least bit obvious.

Non obvious to me before using it.  The UDM really believes you have only one Internet uplink.  The UDM-Pro believes you have no more than 2 Internet uplinks, and I'm not sure how it chooses them.  Building systems that do dynamic routing is either not possible, or really not obvious with the UDM.

As a home network, or a small business network router/hub/ap, it seems to cover all the immediate needs I or my other deployments have. If I'm attempting to do something more complicated with network, it's become very clear that I need to be on a different platform, perhaps, Ubiquiti's EdgeMax line.