I need a reasonably portable device that would allow people to use their laptops to connect via WiFi and navigate to a domain name I would tell them. The domain name would serve a web page that would have links to files for download that would be hosted on and served from the device.
My use-case is for making 1 hour presentations I would like to run like a mini-workshop so I expect to have ~25 people connected and downloading, all at the time same time.
What is the Specific Use-Case?
Basically I want give a presentation to people about how to set up an open-source local development environment for WordPress and so I need people to be able to download the required files to their computer at the start of the presentation.
Why These Requirements?
WiFi Internet tends to be slow and/or unreliable at the locations where I will be giving these presentations, and my goal is to get as many people to actually start using this local development environment I built as I possibly can so I want to ensure successful setup for as many people as possible.
Assumed Technical Requirements
Obviously the device will need to be a WiFi access point, it would need provide a web server, DNS server and DHCP server and the domain name such as
downloads.lan would only be visible to them when they are connected to the device.
The device does NOT need an upstream connection to the Internet. All it really needs to do is give them a special purchase WiFi access point to connect to, download files and then disconnect.
However a nice-to-have would be to have the device connect to an upstream Internet connection using DHCP -- in the case such a connection is available -- then proxy the traffic to the Internet (except traffic to
downloads.lan), assuming the device could handle lots of connections. But again, that would just be a nice-to-have, not a requirement.
"Failed" Attempts Thus Far
So I have tried several things thus far that either did not work or that were far from optimal.
LibraryBox on TP-Link MR3040
My first attempt at this was to buy a TP-Link MR3040 and install LibraryBox software on it. Unfortunately, it took over 10 minutes to download the necessary files with only 1 computer connected; far too long. So the device needs to be fast; i.e. have lots of bandwidth.
Apple Time Capsule
I then looked at an older Apple Time Capsule I have. But it does not support a web server so it would be more technical to access, and it is on the very heavy end of portable. This may be my fall-back, but I am hoping I can find something better.
Ubuntu + Hostapd + Lenovo IdeaCenter Q180
I started with Ubuntu Server but could not get it to connect to my WiFi -- which is necessary to download and install software -- so I switched to Ubuntu Desktop which has a GUI and thus I could get WiFi connected, but I could still not figure out how to get Hostapd to work. Evidently it needs to control the WiFi and yet Ubunutu Desktop does not want to let go of the WiFi.
I feel certain this would work if I could just figure out how to configure everything. I expect maybe I need to buy another WiFi adapter for Hostapd to use like maybe the TP-LINK TL-WN722N but I don't want to go down another dead-end and I am not much more than a beginner as Linux and I may not be able to figure it out on my own.
At this point I am happy to spend money to solve the problem. I am happy to buy a different device if you can point me to something that will work. (I'd even hire someone to build it if the fee was modest!) I just want something that will work and meet my requirements, and not take 20 hours of my time to get working.