March 22, 2019

Connecting to a Wireless LAN with Linux, Part 1 - page 3

The Hardware Hokey-Pokey

  • January 30, 2005
  • By Carla Schroder
802.11b is reliable, but poky and dull; it's so last year. Linux users may enjoy the higher wireless speeds promised by the 802.11g standard. However, be warned that you may also enjoy more headaches. Some of the better-supported chipsets include the Prism GT (802.11b/g) and Prism Duette (802.11a/g). And wonder of wonders, the driver was written by the manufacturer itself (Intersil, now owned by Conexant). Intersil released the driver under the GPL (more shock and wonder) and it is now maintained by the fine folks at the Prism54 project. Conexant supports the project by releasing hardware specifications, licenses, and other goodies.

The hardware hokey-pokey is in full swing with the Prism54 adapters, so buyer beware. The first version of the SMC 2802w PCI worked great in Linux, supporting 802.11b/g. Then came a second version which does not work in Linux at all. The Netgear WG511 has the same story: version 1 worked great in Linux, version 2 no way. Using a Prism54 requires both a driver and a firmware, which will be covered in part 2.

The Dlink DWL-G650 is Atheros-based; it works fine using the MadWifi drivers. (Some folks take exception to MadWifi because part of the driver, the hardware abstraction layer, is closed-source. See Resources.)

So the short story is for the least hassle and most reliability stick with the 802.11b Senao or Orinoco Gold adapters. Users who want 802.11g may have it, it's just going to take some careful shopping.

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