plconfig 0.2 review

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plconfig is a tool for configuring HomePlug powerline bridges

License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
File size: 0K
Developer: Manuel Kasper
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plconfig is a tool for configuring HomePlug powerline bridges. HomePlug specification based powerline bridges are becoming increasingly popular. I've got myself two of them; the brand name is "ZEUS"; a strange brand that only seems to exist in Switzerland, and some people say it's actually ZyXEL (have a look at the guts). Whatever, according to the HomePlug alliance homepage (, there are only two manufacturers of powerline ICs at the moment: Intellon and Cogency Semiconductor. My bridges have the Intellon chipset (INT5130 integrated powerline MAC-PHY transceiver and INT1000 analog conversion IC). Intellon calls their implementation "PowerPacket".

Now, about the only thing that has to be configured with these is the encryption password, so your neighbor won't be able to sniff your data. A Windows program is provided for that purpose - you hook up the bridge directly to your PC, enter a 2-24 character password, and the password is saved into the bridge's EEPROM.

This is a bit of an inconvenience to non-Windows users, and even if you keep Windows boxes around, at least to me the software looks ugly. It keeps running strange daemons (WinPlcMan.exe, BridgeDeCor.exe, etc.) that use up to 100% CPU at times, and sometimes it's not possible to set the password without power cycling the bridge first (although that seems to be the fault of the bridge).

So I made an attempt at writing a program to set up the encryption key. I found some inofficial information on the web, and it agreed with what I learned from sniffing the communication between the PowerPacket setup software and the bridge.

I'm making the program available here for you to try; its status is currently somewhere in between an ugly hack and a simple use-once-and-throw-away tool. I have no idea if it works with other powerline bridges; although it should work with all Intellon-based ones. If you've had success with a particular product, please let me know!

Besides setting the encryption key, it can also capture and display powerline bridge management-related packets and request statistics from the bridge(s).

What's New in This Release:
plaintext passwords are now hashed correctly as per the HomePlug specification (no longer homebrew MD5); as such passwords should now be compatible with the Windows setup software supplied by Intellon (note that -s does no longer set up the same key as in 0.1! Of course -s 0x behaves as before...)

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