Getting started with a UniFi Dream Machine Pro

It’s not an exaggeration to say that I’m an Ubiquiti fanboy. I like their kit a lot and my home network has been 100% UniFi for quite a few years now.

I’ve just moved in to a new home which I’m getting rewired and this will include putting structured network cabling in, terminating back to a patch panel in a rack in the loft. I have a small amount of “always on” kit and I wanted as much as it as reasonably possible to be in standard 19″ rack format. This is when I started looking at the Ubiquiti Dream Machine Pro to replace a combination of a UniFi CloudKey and Security Gateway, both excellent products in their own right.

My expectation was that I would connect the UDMP to some power, move the WAN RJ45 connection from the USG to the UDMP, fill in some credentials and (mostly) done! As I’m writing this down, you can probably guess it didn’t quite work out like that.

The UDMP completely failed to get an internet connection via all the supported methods applicable. PPPoE didn’t work, using a surrogate router via DHCP didn’t work, static configuration didn’t work. I reached out to the community forum and, in fairness, got very prompt assistance from a Ubiquiti employee.

I needed to upgrade the UDMP’s firmware before it would be able to run its “first setup” process, but updating the firmware via the GUI requires a working internet connection. It’s all a little bit chicken and egg. Instead, this is what you need to do:

  • Download the current UDMP firmware onto a laptop.
  • Reconfigure the laptop’s IP to be 192.168.1.2/24 and plug it in to any of the main 8 ethernet ports on the UDMP.
  • Use scp to copy the firmware to the UDMP using the default username of “root” with the password “ubnt”:
    scp /path/to/fw.bin root@192.168.1.1:/mnt/data/fw.bin
  • SSH in to the UDMP and install the new firmware:
    ubnt-upgrade /mnt/data/fw.bin

The UDMP should reboot onto the new firmware automatically. Perhaps because I’d been attempting so many variations of the setup procedure, after rebooting my UDMP was left in a errored state with messages like “This is taking a little longer..” and “UDM Pro is having an issue booting. Try to reboot or enter Recovery Mode”. To get round this I updated the firmware again, this time doing a factory reset:

ubnt-upgrade -c /mnt/data/fw.bin

The UDMP then rebooted again without error and I was able to complete the setup process normally.

It’s a bit unfortunate that UDMPs are shipping with essentially non-functional firmware, and it’s also unfortunate that the process for dealing with this is completely undocumented.

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