80211.g Cards and Linux
January 16, 2005 3:48 PM   Subscribe

802.11g cards that work well in Linux. What has worked for you (and under what kernel)? Is there any advantage in getting a card with a native driver instead of using ndiswrapper? Do they speak successfully to both G and B access points? Even better if the card is available in both PCMCIA and PCI.
posted by mendel to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have a box with a really old kernel that will be upgraded "real soon now"....but what I did with it was to get a wireless bridge and just connect it to the regular old, universally-supported network card.

With the pending upgrade, I'll be interested to hear what other people have to say as well.
posted by gimonca at 4:41 PM on January 16, 2005

Best answer: There are 4 main Linux 802.11a/b/g driver projects going on - one for Atheros-based cards, one for Atmel-based cards, one for Intersil PrismGT/Duetto/Indigo cards, and one for Intel PRO/2200 cards. madwifi supports Atheros-based 802.11a/b/g cards in Linux natively. There's a looky-uppy thing atAtheros's website and also a listing on the madwifi FAQ/Wiki - Proxim Orinoco multiband and straight 802.11a/g cards are Atheros based and I've always had very good luck with them, though they tend to be easier to find as PCMCIA cards as well as a bit pricy. (Their PCI equiviliants are the PCMCIA card in a PCI->PCMCIA bridge thingy.)

The Atmel cards have drivers at acx100.sf.net and atmelwlandriver.sf.net. It kinda seems the latter is more focused on USB device support. There's a supported card listing on both project's website.

There's also an in-progress driver for some Intel 2200 wifi cards here.

Finally, there's a driver for the Prism GT/Duette/Indigo cards at prism54.org, but I can't seem to get at it right now.

It's worth noting that the Prism and Atheros drivers do include, for the most part, all of the neat stuff(tm) that the other 802.11b drivers support, and most cards (unlike their 802.11b counterparts, where you're pretty much limited to Prism2/2.5 cards) can be put into AP mode as well. It's kinda neat to roll your own AP, and it's really pretty easy. The other drivers should have the same support as any other wifi card on linux.

These drivers may require you to compile both themselves and the kernel, depending on which card you end up with and what driver and distribution you use. ndiswrapper does too, but it's more likely to be included with your distro. Personally, unless you really can't deal with kernel compilation (it's not hard but it's not that easy either), I'd stick with a Linux driver - then you're at least using a driver written for the OS you're running. Plus, then you get the whole "this is open source and on the intarwebs so it'll never die!!!" thingy too. Plus, sometimes the OSS drivers provide better support for the devices (case in point is AP mode in some of the WiFi drivers).
posted by mrg at 5:08 PM on January 16, 2005

Response by poster: mrg: Holy cow, that's a fantastic answer. Thanks! I'm current and comfortable on Linux, so if it works I'm confident I can get it working -- it's the wifi side that's new to me. (Currently I've got a pair of 2Mbps Raylink FHSS cards in ad-hoc mode, but the raycs driver lets you do nada other than move packets around, so it didn't help at all in terms of figuring out what to expect from current hardware.)
posted by mendel at 5:19 PM on January 16, 2005

I also use a D-Link wireless card with Red Hat FC. There weren't any direct drivers for the card, but I fenangled around to figure it out meaning if you're comfortable with Linux, so could you.
posted by jmd82 at 9:21 PM on January 16, 2005

I have a Netgear WAG511 working very well under the Prism54 driver.

Also, I don't believe mrg mentioned this, but NDIS wrapper is a very cool attempt to make Windows network drivers work under Linux. I am using it with the Netgear WG111 USB adapter, which is not supported under by the Prism54 driver because they do not support USB. I'm happy to report it's working perfectly on my 2.6.9 kernel computer.
posted by knave at 9:22 PM on January 16, 2005

Ok I'm a moron, NDIS wrapper was discussed.
posted by knave at 9:23 PM on January 16, 2005

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