1. Introduction

Welcome to the irc.freenode.net/#wireless Frequently Asked Questions page. Look here first for resources and tips on doing your Wifi magic.

Other websites you should look at for help are:

Community Wireless Networks who hang out here.

The Questions!


2. General IRC Channel Questions

2.1. Who runs the channel

2.2. I asked a question but no one is answering me!!

2.3. I'm a profiteering wisp and I hate you non-profit idiots

Maybe you should use #wisp instead.

2.4. Some asshole named 'aml' banned or kicked me. Wtf?

2.5. Why am I op'd?

2.6. Who is WifiFred?

2.7. Are there channel archives?

Yup. IRC logs are kept [http://irc.bcwireless.net/logs/irc.freenode.net/%23wireless/ here] (as of Sep 15 2004).

3. Community Wireless Issues

3.1. Where can I find a Community Wireless Group to hook up with?

3.2. Where can I find peering agreements for Community Wireless networks?

Also check out the [http://lists.freenetworks.org/mailman/listinfo/community FreeNetworks community mailing list].

3.3. Where can I find an acceptable use policy for my community wireless hotspot?

4. Commercial (for-profit) Wireless Issues

4.1. How can I make money?

4.2. Why are WISPs so hostile to community wireless?

Not all are, but occasionally we run into the odd WISP who will spew fud about Community|Open Wireless Networks.

Just ignore them, they're nothing more than PissAnts.

5. General Linux Stuff

5.1. How do I install <blah> package?

Read [http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=03/11/26/1337210 this].

5.2. Are there any small linux distros with wireless?

Yes. [http://nycwireless.net/pebble/ Pebble Linux] has the latest wireless tools plus things like NoCatAuth built right in. It is a FreeNetworks project maintained by Terry Schmidt of NYCWireless. It is designed for [http://soekris.com/ single board computers], but can run on a laptop, old PC and other x86 based machines. Pebble is the default OS on the [http://metrix.net/metrix/products/packages/ Metrix Kits]

[http://leaf.sourceforge.net/ LEAF] is another small distribution that requires less space and has a menu interface, but has less advanced features.

Other: [http://www.cqure.net/tools.jsp?id=9 CQureAP (one floppy, kernel 2.6, hostap)], [http://sourceforge.net/projects/warlinux/ WarLinux (outdated)].

6. Wireless Network Card Questions

6.1. What is the best 802.11b wireless card?

This is a highly subjective question. It all really depends on what you are going to do with it.

Some say the best all around wireless card is an old Lucent/Orinoco Silver or a Gold card. They have good OS support, an internal as well as an external MC-Card antenna jack, and have one of the [http://wiki.freenetworks.org/index.cgi/ReceiveSensitivity highest receive sensitivities] on the cards in the 30mw-50mw range.

If you are looking for a high powered PCMCIA card, you may want to get a [http://metrix.net/metrix/products/radios/pcmcia 200mw Senao Card]. There are two models of card, one with an Internal Antenna only, or a card with 2 diversity (both listen to the wireless signal, and the antenna with the most signal wins) external MMCX antenna jacks. Senao cards are less flexible since there are two models, but the added power and excellent receive sensitivity make them a good choice for outdoor links as well as wardriving and monitoring applications.

If you are looking to make a machine act as an access point under linux, you really only have two options. HostAP and MadWifi. HostAP has been around longer and is considered stable, but because it is based around the Prism2 chipset, it lacks 802.11g and 802.11a support. Old hermes based chipsets (the old Orinoco cards) cannot act as an AP under linux without HermesAP which may get you in [http://hacks.oreilly.com/pub/h/860 hot water], and also you will miss out on a lot of the new stuff.

If you are going the HostAP route, you might want to look into the Zcomax Prism2Card or the Senao 200mW cards. An unofficial support page for [http://www.seattlewireless.net/index.cgi/SenaoCard SenaoCards] is maintained by SeattleWireless.

MadWifi is a relatively new driver (grab the CVS version), it works with Atheros based cards, allows you to act as an AP, do WDS as well as tap some of the more advanced parts of the wireless card. It seems to be the driver to get if you are into trying new things. You can get Orinoco branded PCMCIA cards as well as [http://metrix.net/metrix/products/radios/minipci MiniPCI Atheros Cards]

6.3. Will my Broadcom chipset wireless card work in Linux or *BSD? (Linksys wmp11v2.7 and Dell Truemobile 1180 for example)

6.4. Will my Atmel chipset wireless card work in Linux or OS X? (SMC2632W)

Side Note - The SMC2632W has 3 Revsions the First Revsion marked by a fcc id of WL1100 is a Prism2 based card and will work with the prism2 drivers. The rev one will say WL1100-1 also it only has one orange colors light. This is the same unit as the US Robotics 2410 card.

6.5. I'd like to try doing ___________ with 802.11b. Will it work?

6.6. Do 802.11a cards work under Linux or *BSD?

6.7. Do 802.11g cards work under Linux?

6.8. I'm trying to use my ________ (prism2 chipset card) under linux, and I can't figure out wlan-ng, help!

6.9. What driver should I use for Linux?

6.10. How do I get my Linksys WPC11 to work under Linux?

6.11. How can I find out what chipset my network card uses?

6.12. I want a wireless network scanner under Linux, or help configuring one, please?

6.13. How do I enable monitor mode with this Orinoco?

6.14. Will my USB wireless adapter work under Linux?

6.15. How can I find what version of Firmware my Wireless Network card has?

6.16. I want to install some kind of authentication software for my wireless network, can I do that?

7. Antennas and stuff

7.1. dB, dBm, dBi, mW, W.... What is all this stuff?

7.2. How can I calculate the distance my antenna will have?

7.3. What is the best antenna?

7.4. How can I hack an antenna onto my wireless card?

7.5. I want to build my own antenna, where are instructions to do that?

7.6. What's the deal with reverse polarity (RP) connectors?

8. Connecting to Networks

8.1. How do I find wireless networks around me?

Please add stuff to this question.

8.2. How do I connect to a wireless network?

8.3. How do I hack into my neighbors Wireless Network?

8.4. How do I crack WEP?

8.5. What system do I need for 902.10 Wireless on my TV

9. Network Configuration help

9.1. How do I setup my network to automatically get an IP address?

9.2. What commands do I need to use?

10. Building A HotSpot or Network

10.1. What is a captive portal?

10.2. What captive portal/gateway software is available?

11. Security Concerns

11.1. How broken is WEP, anyway?

11.2. So what could I use, then?

Help with windows specific stuff in NetworkCommands and AssociationWithNetworks would be greatly appreciated. I have pictures and commands for the orinoco software under windows that I can take care of, but anything else is fair game. Further wikiizing this page (like the lucent cards), and any further FAQ's would also be welcome :) --ForrestEnglish