Wireless LAN recommendation ?

Tom Hukins tom at FreeBSD.org
Tue Dec 3 21:07:18 GMT 2002

On Mon, Dec 02, 2002 at 02:49:15PM +0000, Pete French wrote:
> So, I'm thinking of getting a nice OSX laptop to wander round the
> flat with so that I can answer my email whilst siting in bed. Has
> anyone got a recommendation for adding an 802.11X base station to a BSD
> box at all ?

I agree with the other replies that you should choose 802.11b.

On the FreeBSD side you could:
- Buy a standalone wireless access point and plug it into a spare
  network interface on your machine, using appropriate firewall rules
  on that interface.  The Apple Airport base station might be a good
  choice here - both OS X and FreeBSD's Ports have administration
- Buy a Prism 2 or 2.5 based PCMCIA network card and a PCI to PCMCIA
  bridge, using wicontrol(8) to make your machine behave like a
  standalone BSS mode access point.
- Buy a non-Prism PCMCIA card and PCI to PCMCIA bridge.  Works as
  above but runs in IBSS (ad-hoc) mode which makes it more difficult
  to roam between access points (which you probably don't care about
  at home) and lacks power-saving mode, which means the OS X laptop
  will use more power.

I took the second option:  I found a cheap wireless card on eBay,
checking against wi(4) and vendors' Web sites to see whether cards
used either of the supported Prism chipsets.  Unfortunately, the card
I bought ran old firmware which doesn't support IBSS mode properly
(see CAVEATS in wi(4)), so I had to borrow a Windows laptop to run the
vendor's firmware update software.  Despite the extra hassle of this
approach, I have one less extra device floating around and feel more
comfortable from a security and administration perspective than if I
had a standalone device.

On -STABLE the kernel doesn't contain the wi drivers by default, but
on -CURRENT machines this works with a generic kernel.

For my iBook I bought an official Apple Airport card.  This costs more
than buying an alternative card, but at the time I knew nothing about
Apple hardware/software and felt lazy.


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