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Wireless Networking Software Hardware Linux

Jean Tourrilhes On Linux Wireless LAN 143

mcleodnine writes "Jean Tourrilhes of the Linux Wireless LAN Howto project took some time to answer a few questions from members at Among some of the more interesting commments was his pick of best and worst Open Source friendly vendors ('Some of those TI engineers even sent me e-mails criticising some features of the Wireless Extensions'), an opinion or two about the Next Big Thing in wireless (MIMO), and a poke in the eye for OS zealots of any religion."
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Jean Tourrilhes On Linux Wireless LAN

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  • Re:wireless viop (Score:4, Informative)

    by agent ( 7471 ) <> on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:21PM (#9486023) Homepage Journal
    There is a Mesh AP project that has VoIP support.
    More info here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:33PM (#9486138)
    D-Link DWL-122 USB Fob. $22 at Best Buy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:35PM (#9486156)
    Linksus WUSB11b

    $9.00 most discount places. works best with kismet for sniffing and is gobs more sensitive than the SMC
  • by ( 755784 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @01:38PM (#9486196)
    Take a look at the LQ HCL:
  • by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @02:00PM (#9486395) Homepage Journal
    My base station is a Linksys WRT54G. It's cheap and damned good ... and it runs a Linux kernel so it's kinda hackable if that's your thing. My PCMCIA wlan card (I only do wireless from my laptop so I can't speak on PCI cards) is a Microsoft MN-520 (I think it's been discontinued). Regardless, it's a very solid card and it works well with the Linux wlan project driver. The negative experiences I've lived through/heard of are a) newer Linksys PCMCIA cards (they keep changing the chipsets) and b) Microsoft base stations, not the client cards, mainly connection stability problems.
  • by debian4life ( 701155 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @02:09PM (#9486498)
    I feel your pain. The problem you will run into is that even if you get a D-Link, Linksys, or Netgear, some of them may use the same chipset. I tried the D-Link first because it was cheap. It used the Prism2 chipset. But after reading every bit of documentation, and trying it as both a module and in the kernel under about 10 configuations I gave up. It seems like getting these cards to work is hit or miss for a lot of people based on all the posts I read. And believe me I read a bunch.

    Then I tried a Linksys that I use on my work XP laptop. No dice there. I forget the chipset on that one, but I had the Linksys WPC11 v4 which apparently has little or no support on Linux.

    So finally I decided to just bite the bullet and get a Cisco Aironet 350. If you buy these new, they are over $100. But if you go to Ebay, you can get one for around $50. All you do is compile the support in the kernel and it works like a champ. I have set it up successfully on both Debian and Gentoo.

    So Cisco is the easy way to go if you can get a good deal. I would avoid the Linksys card I tried, but apparently versions prior to v4 work better. You can give the D-Link or Netgear a shot with the Prism2 chipset, but you may have to work at it a while to get it working.

    Hope that helps.
  • by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @02:13PM (#9486534)
    Well, the answer is don't get cutting-edge hardware. You can get excellent, servicable wireless 802.11b hardware from several years ago, and that is the golden era for open drivers. Something like a Cisco Aironet 352 is perfect, with excellent drivers and support from all layers of the operating system (linux, bsd, win32, macos, ...). Not surprisingly this is also the interviewee's recommended hardware.

    As far as headaches, I think you'll find more headaches in the peripheral support infrastructure than in the wireless hardware and drivers. If you are going to use PCMCIA/PC Card wireless adapters I think you'll discover the Linux PCMCIA drivers have a habit of panicking. With any hardware you'll need to do a lot of manual configuration hacking before your computer will perform useful functions like automatically roaming to available SSIDs (something windows and mac os do automatically). You'll be installing packages and editing /etc files for the next month, but eventually you'll have something that works 62% of the time.

  • Re:In General (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @02:16PM (#9486568)
    Sorry, that's absolutely false. Even if you could reprogram the radio to use frequencies way out of the ISM band, your antenna would be massively detuned for such frequencies. People forget that these network cards still have transistors and filters at the end of the signal chain, and there's no register you can program that will change the center frequency of a bandpass filter. The meme of the evil hax0r interfering with cuddly bunny radio traffic was started by wireless hardware manufacturers groping for some excuse to not support Linux. It has no basis in physical reality.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @02:24PM (#9486655) Homepage Journal
    Mmm. I've got an Orinoco card in my Dell 640C Laptop and that works fine. Oddly enough, EVERYTHING on that laptop works fine. Too bad running Wine pushes the temperature up and up until the laptop performs an emergency temperature shutdown in a last desperate act of self preservation. But I digress...

    The Netgear 104mbps card I have in my desktop uses the Atheros chipset, for which a free driver exists (I forget if I had to patch my kernel or not.) The 52mbps one used some other chipset which I believe is supported by a commercial driver. Cisco's got good gear and have been great about supporting open source OSes in the past, but their gear is kinda hard to find down at the local Best Buy.

    Don't bother trying to use ad-hoc with any of this, by the way. Shell out the $50 for a wireless router and use it to link up your assorted wireless devices. I had had-hoc working for about 15 minutes before it crapped out, then it refused to ever work again. Since I got the router, everything works fine.

    I don't trust WEP or whatever the hell the latest "security" standard is, so everything in my house does encrypted PPP tunneling over wireless, and my desktop handles routing out to the Internet.

  • by bobbozzo ( 622815 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @02:35PM (#9486769)
    My DLink PrismII card works, but only after installing the WLAN-NG drivers/tools, which are NOT included in many linux distributions, even Fedora Core 2.

    I now have a Cisco Aironet 350 from work, and it works with the driver built-in to the kernel.

    If I had to buy another card, I'd still get a PrismII or Prism54 because of price.
  • by PureFiction ( 10256 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:40PM (#9488391)
    As hinted at in this interview, the future of wireless networking revolves around many variations on a few core themes: diversity, versatility, and scalability [].

    Diversity is accomplished through MIMO and other technologies like beam steering to provide a robust communication channel between wireless devices.

    Versatility comes with open source firmware / drivers and software defined radios. There is no way manufacturers can foretell all of the desirable uses and functionality consumers want in their products. The most useful systems will be those that are versatile and can adapt to new protocols, encodings, etc.

    Scalability can be achieved through robust ad-hoc routing protocols and decentralized security methods to produce a system that scales easily as participating nodes join and part the network without complicated provisioning or a reliance on centralized and limited backhaul or access point functionality.

    There is still a lot of interesting work to be done in these areas, but the real fun starts in the applications that will utilize these new ad-hoc networking infrastructures.
  • Re:On zealotry (Score:3, Informative)

    by DeadInSpace ( 320683 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @04:41PM (#9488419)
    there was once a long list comedically stepping through the progression of a linux user from newbie to guru.
    Evolution Of A Linux User []. A fun read, if you take it with a grain of salt :)
  • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Monday June 21, 2004 @05:41PM (#9489025)
    I was recently traveling for work, and I had my laptop with me (WinXP). The hotel let you use PCMCIA cards for free to access their wireless connection. ($75 refundable deposit) I don't even know what card it was, but I installed the driver on my machine. Windows complained because it was an "unauthorized" device, but I installed it anyway. It worked great.

    Then I wondered..... and pulled out my Knoppix 3.2 CD. Note that this isn't even the latest and greatest version. It booted up. I started Mozilla, and was on the net in no time flat. It recognized the card and loaded the driver with no interaction on my part.

    Now every time I boot the machine, WinXP complains that the wireless card isn't inserted. *sigh*

    This was my very first experience with wireless, and it was pretty painless. Take a Knoppix CD to your local Best Buy, Circuit City, or whatever and try out the cards for compatability.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2004 @07:59PM (#9490040)
    Uhm, S3 got purchased by someone, and stopped producing video chipsets for awhile. That could have contributed to diamonds downfall, but I seriously don't buy that story of shit not working in linux killing a company.

    Anyhow, I have a pile of various diamond cards with s3 chipsets I've owned over the years, and never had a problem with any of them under linux. Anecdotal evidence goes both ways.
  • by clymere ( 605769 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2004 @01:45AM (#9492292) Homepage
    Once upon a time, I worked in Best Buy.

    First of all, I will assert that it's an evil, evil store. Second of all I'll agree that this guy is a complete jackass. But you have to realize something too: 99% of the people who come in that store don't run anything other than windows, and for the most part have never heard of Linux. Furthermore, those of us who DO run Linux know a lot more than any electronics salesman, and do our homework ahead of time(which you did).

    Honestly, i think if hes claiming to have certifications hes full of shit. Noone with any certs would have any reason to work there. When I was hired, I made $6.75 an hour and I was the highest paid non-manager in the most profitable part of the store(computers/home office). Even a crapy cert would earn me more than that.

    I had a similar experience when looking for wireless cards to go with my new(used) laptop. When I asked salesmen things like "does this work under Linux?" or "does it have a PrismII chipset?" they all smiled and politely conceded that i sounded like i knew a hell of a lot more then them, and if I had any questions about anythign else to let them know(which i did, and they were helpful).

    Don't get me wrong, after working there I hate the place. But i think you just happened to find one real jackass. Most of the people I know working there are just highschool/college students trying to make a little spending money. Noone there is trying to be a computer guru(except for the guy who helped you of course :)

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