Linux Wireless LAN Howto : introduction

Jean Tourrilhes

8 september 99

Linux & Wireless LANs : Un*x, with no string attached...

This document will explore the magical world of Wireless LANs and Linux. Wireless LAN is not a very widespread and well known technology, even in the Linux world, so we will try to gather here most of the available information. Despite the fact that it is very similar to common networking technologies, it is significantly different to justify this specific document covering the subject.

1 What is a Wireless LAN ?

It's a networking technology allowing the connection of computers without any wires and cables (apart from the mains), mostly using radio technology (and sometime infrared). It's called LAN (Local Area Network) because the range targeted is small (within an office, a building, a store, a small campus, a house...). This technology is slowly growing (I should say maturing), and despite a general lack of interest, Linux is able to take advantage of some of the wireless networks available.

2 Content of this document

My first task is to talk a bit about the different Wireless LANs options under Linux. What the products on the market are, their compatibility with Linux and where to find the necessary bits and pieces to make them work. This should help you to make your mind on the product of your dreams.

Once you've picked a Wireless LAN, you will have to live with it. The next chapter go through the main differences of Wireless LAN compared to other networking technologies. This includes the main steps of the installation and usage considerations.

Then, we will have a nice overview of the Wireless Extensions. The Wireless Extensions is a new standard interface to configure Wireless LAN devices and get wireless specific statistics from them. Of course, this is a Linux exclusivity !

At this point, you will find a long and dense section, talking mostly of the different technologies used in Wireless LANs and other boring related stuff. It is quite safe to skip that one.

3 Target and Assumptions

The main goal of this document is to reduce the traffic of unanswered questions related to wireless in the Linux newsgroups and mailing lists (and in my mailbox). After that, you should have no more arguments for asking foolish questions around (but I know you will do anyway).

I hope that this document will help people to make the most of their Wireless LAN under a competent operating system and understand what is in the box. If I could convince people to give it a try, it would make me happy.

This document act mostly as a complement to the exhaustive documentation existing for Linux. Because of that, I might not explain every details of everything and target already quite knowledgeable people. Don't worry, there is a section on how to improve your culture at the beginning of the section 3.

4 Legal stuff

Strange world where everybody has to protect himself from sharks, lawyers and crazy people :

Any information in this document is purely fictious and any resemblance to real hardware, software or driver is purely coincidental...

I mean, if because you read this document your hardware burn, you get fired from your job or anything else bad happen, I'm not responsible, it can't be my fault, so please use your own brain. Writing this kind of documents is not part of my job at HP, so I don't expect them to claim any responsibility for its content.

Any brand mentioned in this document is trademark of its respective owner. For example Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds.

Then, this is my document, written by me (Jean Tourrilhes), therefore I own its copyright. So don't remove my name (and copyright notice) and pretend that you wrote it yourself. In matter of copy, distribution and modification, you should ask me politely and use common sense.

Having said that, this document is also licensed under the terms of the Linux Documentation Project Copying License.

5 This document

This document is only available in the format that are convenient to me (acrobat/pdf, html). It might be updated in the future (if I feel like it and if I have some time). I guess that it is pretty safe to assume that it will still be available for the time to come at these web addresses :

I may be reached at the following e-mail address :

Constructive comments and interesting information are welcomed. I hope that you will help me to keep this document up to date and improve its content.

Comments about my english and my style will be answered in french (because I still curse better in french than in italian). Flames and spam will be processed through a Rayleig Fading channel with a -120 dB attenuation in order to reduce the noise :-)


Linux Wireless LAN Howto -
Converted to html from Frame Maker - 16 september 97
Updated 8 september 99
Copyright © 1996-2004 Jean Tourrilhes
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