Linksys Media Center extenders stop working

The phrase kill switch gets overused, but it looks like it might apply here.

I noticed several stories this week from people reporting problems with their Linksys DMA2100 Media Center Extenders. I have one of those devices hooked up to our TV in the bedroom. I’ve been traveling for the past two weeks and didn’t have time to read the details. And because we tend to watch TV in the living room (where the Media Center PC is directly connected), I haven’t had a chance to see whether I was affected until today.

This morning I read an excellent summary of the issue from Dave Zatz:

Now we’re hearing dozens of reports that those extenders mysteriously stopped working over the past few days, and indeed a thread over at The Green Button is full of hundreds rightfully disgruntled users. Thanks to a lot of investigations by members it’s been determined that the boxes are trying to dial home to an address that no longer exists. Naturally this is causing wild speculation about DRM checks and the boxes being remotely disabled, but for now there are some manual work-arounds, including configuring your router to explicitly block any traffic from the Extender or simply assign an invalid gateway. This seems to work for many, but not for all.

Here’s the Green Button forum thread, which started on November 4.

I just tried to use my Linksys extender and can confirm that it is unable to connect to the Media Center PC. It powers on, but all I get is a black screen. At some point I’ll try the suggestions in that thread, but knowing my router and its capabilities I’m not optimistic that it will work for me.

This is, of course, an abandoned product, so I don’t expect updates or improvements. But as a consumer I do have a right for that device to continue working as long as it’s not damaged. For Cisco to pull the plug, either deliberately or through incompetence, is unacceptable.

I also know from experience that trying to reach anyone at Cisco to discuss this issue will be an exercise in frustration. Nevertheless, I’ll try.

Anyone else affected by this issue?

Update: As predicted it was difficult to reach anyone at Cisco. I did, however, ultimately hear back from Cisco’s Director of Corporate Communications, who apologizes to customers and notes that the issue is now resolved. See the comments at the end of this ZDNet post.

15 thoughts on “Linksys Media Center extenders stop working

  1. I have two of these devices and they both stopped working within the last couple days. I didn’t get too suspicious until my second one failed and behaved exactly like the first.

  2. Yes, I have had this issue this week. I followed the directions on the link you provided. I however had to set make sure my extender was not connected to the network and then configure a static ip with a non-valid DNS server entry. That resolved the issue for me. As long as the DNS server is wrong and it can’t resolve, the device will connect to my Media Center PC fine. Thanks for posting this!

  3. Ed,

    I have a DMA2100 and a DMA2200 and both are working fine. However, I live in Singapore, so that may or may not make a difference.


  4. I don’t have any Linksys Media Extenders, but I have had a few devices stop working in the past due to a company ceasing support for them. I was given the excuse once that the software needed to run the device was licensed for use only during a specific time period. Yet I had paid for a “lifetime use” of that device. I truly thing that software licensing is broken.

  5. This is why I now have three Xbox360s – I had considered the Linksys/Cisco extender, but it often cost as much as or more than a ‘360, so I just got more XBoxes, as necessary. When Cisco announced that it would no longer be offering these products, I breathed a sigh of relief. My heasrtfelt sympathies for those of you with these devices…

    1. Phil,

      Until the most recent generation, the Xbox 360 was completely unacceptable as a Media Center Extender in a bedroom environment. The noise and heat levels were literally intolerable. What I love about the extender devices is that they are noiseless. The Linksys devices have no fans of any kind. I am reasonably confident Cisco will fix this, eventually–or the community will find a solution. But Cisco’s inability to respond promptly makes it hard for me to recommend Linksys products.

  6. Anticipation of some incompatibility has prevented me from ever getting on the Media Center Extender bandwagon. Too many dependencies: OS, PC hardware, MCE hardware, and AV hardware. First-gen MCE boxes became obsolete within two years, so this doesn’t surprise me.

    Nonetheless, this is a major fail by Cisco/Linksys, and I’d be PO’ed too.

    I’m a bit biased right now, however. We’re overhauling our network infrastructure at the office. We bought licenses for Cisco IP phone software from an authorized Cisco distributor. According to the Cisco website, it comes with 30 days of free support. Yet we can’t access the license keys (and therefore can’t even install the software) until we have a support contract in place. That’s bad enough, but another Catch-22 makes it nigh impossible to buy the support agreement. This is just one of many problems we’ve had trying to get support, tools, and documentation from Cisco.

    At all levels, they don’t seem to be concerned about their end users.

  7. I have both the DMA2100 and the DMA2200. Both stopped working this weekend Nov 6, 2010.

  8. Mine works for about 2 minutes, then the remote stops accepting input till we reboot the extender. WTF?

  9. Ed – totally understand your viewpoint, re: XBoxes, but I (and my children & their friends) enjoy gaming quite a bit, as well as the Media Center benefits. So, getting another dedicated set-top box was more or less out of the question, thankfully. Here’s to seeing a quick resolution with the Linksys MCEs, though.

  10. This really doesn’t suprise me.

    These Consumer Electronics companies have given up on Media Center and simply don’t care about the platform or these products, and when they die due to some kind of change, they will likely stay that way.

    My media center PC with ATI DCTs has been unable to tune more than the 10 basic channels since FiOS implemented Simulcrypt in my area on September 15. ATI/AMD Refused to update the drivers since the product is no longer supported, and I’m stuck with two useless tuners.

    Meanwhile, I have Ceton tuners on order from all three distributors since August and it still doesn’t look like I’ll get my card before Christmas.

    This whole platform is a giant disaster and wish there was a real alternative out there.

  11. The extenders are something MSFT should produce themselves. There is too much overlap in the business space for Cisco to want to see MSFT succeed at anything. They may tolerate one another, but they’re not friends.

  12. “Kill switch” is overused and incorrectly used here. The software was not intentionally killed, as a publisher would do with pirated or modified software. In this case, the software fell into disrepair.

    1. Feeling a bit pedantic this morning, George?

      Yes, this is technically not a “kill switch,” but the effect is the same. If a vendor through negligence manages to turn off a server that in turn kills an entire class of devices, that quallifies in my book.

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