April 21, 2019

A Writer's View of the Linux Wireless Dream, Part 1 - page 2

Wireless Dream, Picture the Scene...

  • June 2, 2003
  • By Rob Reilly

Before I bought the wireless card and router, I put together a list of criteria.

  • Had to be cheap--er, inexpensive.
  • Had to be external antenna capable.
  • Had to be able to be put into monitor mode (for testing and network sniffing).
  • Had to be common off-the-shelf hardware available from consumer retailers.
  • Had to use the wlan-ng driver
  • Should be 802.11b, because it was the current standard and best supported.

I did a little research and found that an SMC 2632 PCMCIA card filled the bill, nicely. The card used the Intersil Prism2 chip-set and had both wlan-ng and Orinoco drivers available in SuSE Linux 8.0. While I could have purchased a high end specialty wireless card with an external antenna connector built in, it would have been much more expensive than the SMC card. Specialty cards also put out up to 200 milliwatts of transmit power. My little SMC transmitted 30. Specialty cards are upwards of $200, and my SMC was $49 with rebates.

Over time, the Linux capable 802.11b cards will probably get harder to find. The computer retailers seem to be pushing the a, g, x, whatever models pretty hard. Good thing they are all standards. Hey, maybe some Windows 802.11g user could give you his old, slow 802.11b card. Right now the 802.11a and -g drivers for Linux are in very early development and not really ready for prime time yet. And don't forget that most current cable or DSL broadband is 10 Mbps Ethernet, anyway. Why spend the cash on a and g cards, if you can't put it to use through your home or cafe broadband connection anyway.

Why did I use the wlan-ng driver? The driver was designed with the Prism chip-set in mind, exactly what the SMC2632W card had in it. The driver seemed stable and people seemed to be happy with its operation. Also, it allowed the card to be put into monitor mode (needed for wireless packet sniffing) without too much trouble.

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