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Buffalo LinkTheater High-Definition: A Linux Multimedia Center from End to End - page 3

Introduction

  • April 13, 2006
  • By Dee-Ann and Robert LeBlanc

This system offers a variety of network-based features. To start, it contains hardware allowing both wireless and Ethernet networking, which makes it flexible enough to fit into whatever network configuration you might already have.

Which option you choose is a bigger issue than you might think. The wireless is 802.11g (802.11b is also supported), allowing you to implement encryption so that other people can't hijack off of your signal. While wireless is convenient, 802.11g only can reach speeds of 54Mbps. The Ethernet, on the other hand, bundled with this system is 100baseT (100Mbps), giving you approximately twice the speed as the wireless connection. When watching multimedia, this difference in speed can be vital. More importantly, though, is transferring large files to and from the LinkTheater High-Definition and another system. Gigabit Ethernet would be a welcome feature to accelerate such operations, at least by those who have Gigabit Ethernet networks installed.

In addition to the fact that you won't want people spying on what you're watching, any wireless computing device opens your network to potential invasion. Most people today using broadband routers or hardware firewalls--along with Linux users who have their own firewalls set up--are using NAT (Network Address Translation), which affords a certain amount of protection as anyone wardriving in the neighborhood has to set up for the subnet each person is using.

On the LinkTheater High-Definition Media Player site, much excitement is made of the AirStation One-Touch Secure System (AOSS). AOSS requires, to start, an AOSS router from Buffalo Technology. Once you have this router, any hardware that supports the proprietary AOSS protocol (a very limited set of choices at this point in time, consisting of some Buffalo Technology hardware, some game systems, and Intel Centrino through compatibility) can be added to your encrypted wireless network by pressing a few buttons. While such a feature is a great boon to those who are not computer-savvy, saving people from having to fuss with setting up all devices onto their proper subnet, it is fortunately not an absolute requirement, since there is no Linux client available for adding a laptop. Given the vendor lock-in, proprietary nature, and limited industry support for this protocol, most Linux users will find it of little interest. In addition, the unit uses DHCP by default--which can be overridden--making it simple to integrate into networks that do as well.

Speaking of security, the inability to use AOSS doesn't mean that you're left without any options. The 802.11g protocol supports WEP encryption and so does the LinkTheater High-Definition, for both 64 bit and 238 bit keys. For many Linux users, this feature will be far more important than those such as AOSS.

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