Wireless LAN resources for Linux
The Linux Wireless LAN Howto is an Open Source project
sponsored by Hewlett Packard
(through my contribution) since 1996, and built with the
contribution of many Linux users all over the world.
I first got involved in the Wireless LAN world by hacking the Wavelan
drivers for Linux. I'm quite curious, so I start gathering information
to know how the damn beasty was working.
Then, I realised that there was no central point where you could find
all this information, links to the drivers and issues with Linux. So,
I start stuffing it on my web pages, and it slowly evolved to what you
I'm no longer active on the Wavelan drivers, but I'm also still
following the work of Wireless LAN (called as well WLAN or Radio
Ethernet), especially in relation with Linux. So, once every century,
I update my Linux Wireless LAN Howto (html and pdf available
below) and the collection of URLs (after the howto). I hope
that it is usefull to someone...
The Linux Wireless LAN Howto
I've decided to collect all the information about Wireless LANs and
Linux that I was able to find. The goal was also to document my work
and to become famous :-) You will find all that information in the
Linux Wireless LAN Howto, available in PostScript,
PDF and HTML (see below).
The original Linux Wireless LAN Howto is available as 3
postscript or acrobat (PDF) documents, which contains the same
material but with the original presentation. So if you wish to enjoy a
better reading experience or to print it, use those documents :
The translation of the Howto to HTML lack the presentation but is more
browser friendly, with cross references, external web links and
support of HTML
navigation. It is composed of the following documents :
My Howto finishes here, below is a huge collection of links ;-)
If you want to add links there, send me a nice e-mail...
Wireless LAN drivers web pages
Lot's of people are working to make Linux better in supporting
Wireless LANs, you will find down here some link to their web
pages. This is only some shortcuts, you will find the complete list of
drivers and all the details in
- Release notes for the Linux
Wavelan drivers, that support only the very old Wavelan
cards (now obsolete).
- Release notes for the Linux
Orinoco driver, that support most Orinoco cards,
Symbol HR cards and PrismII cards.
- Some drivers authors are adding information to the Linux Wireless wiki. They
have set up a central linux-Wireless
mailing list that only some drivers use.
- David Gibson
is the author and maintainer of the Orinoco Linux driver. He
has a mailing
list about it.
- Pavel Roskin
maintains the Symbol-CF version of the Orinoco driver.
- Manuel Estrada Sainz
was maintaining the Orinoco-USB version of the Orinoco driver.
S. Mathews is the maintainer of the Prism and
Prism II based cards Linux drivers and is doing lot's or
work on implementing a 802.11 layer for Linux. He has a couple
of mailing list about it.
Reed and Javier Achirica have developed a driver for the new
Aironet 802.11 wireless LAN cards, and they have a mailing list
- Jouni Malinen has
developed a driver for the PrismII cards supporting Host AP
mode and bridging. He has a mailing list about
- Atmel has a
SourceForge projects for their Atmel USB and Pcmcia drivers,
with some mailing
- Jörg Albert is
maintaining the alternate driver for Atmel USB devices
originally written by Oliver Kurth. He has a
list about it.
- Sam Leffler and
Michael Renzmann are maintaining the binary Atheros driver,
and have a mailing list
- Andreas Mohr and his
team are working on the TI ACX100 OpenSource driver, and
they have a mailing list
- The Prism54 project are
maintaining the driver for Intersil 802.11g cards, and they
have some mailing
lists about it.
- James Ketrenos and many
people are working on the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 driver
(the infamous Centrino MiniPCI card), they also maintain web pages for
the Intel PRO/Wireless
2200, the Intel
PRO/Wireless 3945 and the Intel PRO/Wireless
4965. They have a mailing
list for the 2100/2200, and another mailing
list for the 3945/4965.
- Mark Wallis and Ivo van
Doorn are maintaining the Ralink RT2400 and RT2500
OpenSource drivers, and they have a mailing list
- Michael Buesch and many
people are maintaining the Broadcom 43xx OpenSource
drivers, and they have a mailing
list about it.
Merello is maintaining the RealTek OpenSource drivers.
- Daniel Drake and
others are maintaining the ZyDAS ZD1211 OpenSource drivers,
and they have a mailing list about
- John Markus
Bjørndalen was the maintainer of the Xircom Netwave
- Dag Brattli was the
maintainer of the Xircom Netwave Linux driver and the Linux
Moorman was the maintainer of the Netwave AirSurfer plus
driver (only in Netwave mode).
- Dave Koberstein was the
maintainer of the Proxim RangeLan2 Linux driver, and he had a mailing list
- David Leonard
was working on a public domain Proxim RangeLan2 Pcmcia
driver for OpenBSD and needs help.
- Paul Fox
was working on a driver for the IBM Wireless LAN Entry card (a
product which is now discontinued).
Neuhaus was the maintainer of the Wavelan IEEE Linux
Youssef is the maintainer of the mwvlan driver, a modified
version of wvlan_cs with scanning support.
Herrenschmidt has modified the Wavelan IEEE driver to make it work
with the Apple Airport card.
- Lee John
Keyser-Allen was the maintainer the Symbol drivers, and he
had some discussion
forums about it.
Jennings and Elmer
Joandi were the maintainers of the Aironet Arlan Linux
Corey has developed a driver for the Raytheon Raylink
802.11 wireless LAN (his old homepage).
- Reyk Floeter was
working on a GPL driver for the various cards based on the ATHEROS
802.11a chipset, and had preliminary source code available (not
Albert is maintaining the old driver for the Elsa MC2 and ZCOM
WL24 devices originally written by ZCOM and Elsa. He has a mailing
list about it.
- Bas Vermeulen
has developed a driver for the No Wires Needed 802.11 wireless
Wireless Linux software on the Internet
Linux Wireless support is not limited to Wireless LAN drivers, you can
find tools, distributions and support for other wireless technologies.
Wireless Tools and Applications
Wireless LAN Protocol stacks
S. Mathews has developped the linux-wlan 802.11 stack, used
by the linux-wlan driver.
- Sam Leffler and
Michael Renzmann are maintaining the net80211 stack, which
is used by the MadWifi driver and
- James Ketrenos and
many people are working on the Intel ieee80211 stack. This
stack is currently in the Linux kernel 2.6.14+, is used by various
Intel Centrino drivers and is derived from the HostAP driver.
- Michael Buesch and
Larry Finger are working on the SoftMAC layer for the
Intel ieee80211 stack. This layer is currently in the Linux
kernel 2.6.17+ and used by various drivers (Broadcom, Zydas...).
- Jouni Malinen has
developed the ieee80211 devicescape stack, which is derived
from the HostAP driver.
Benc and Jirka Bohac are working on the mac80211 kernel
stack (formerly ieee80211 DeviceScape stack). This stack is
currently in the Linux kernel 2.6.22+ and used by a few drivers
P. Ketrenos and Intel have their own branch of the mac80211
stack for their newer Centrino drivers.
- A very long time ago InfoTech was developing a
802.11 software stack for Linux, including the Access Point
Wireless Linux Distributions
Most distributions support some Wireless cards out of the box, and
have the infrastructure to support other cards when the proper driver
is installed. Those distributions have a specific focus on Wireless
- IT-University KTH has released Flying Linux, a Linux
distribution with native support for wireless LANs (mostly
Wavelan IEEE & Mobile IP).
- The Linux Router Project
(LRP) has also some support for some Wireless Lans, for example
there is a Aviator2.4
LRP image and some Wavelan
LRP images. Also, there is an LRP Aironet
- Vladimir Ivaschenko has
created parprouted, a daemon for transparent IP (Layer 3)
proxy ARP bridging. This allow to do "IP bridging" on any
802.11 card (instead of MAC bridging).
Straumann has created a Linux distribution for Airport (to
run Linux directly on the Airport or RG-1000 Access Point).
- Instant 802 Networks, Inc
have created OpenAP, a
Linux distribution which directly on Prism II Access Points (such as
the US Robotics, SMC or Addtron Access Points). This is based on the
- OpenWRT is a wireless
distribution targetting various Home Wireless Routers, such as
the famous Linksys WRT54G Access Points.
- DD-WRT is a derivative of
OpenWRT, adding a better user interface and Radius.
- Coova is
another derivative of OpenWRT, adding a better user interface
- WISP-Dist is
as embedded Linux distribution for wireless routers based on LEAF Bering and that support
Gateway is a distribution that turn a regular PC with a wireless
card into a Sputnik Gateway.
- ROSE is a Linux distribution
that Radionet use to deploy WiFi HotSpots. Like many others, it
is based on the HostAP driver.
Other Wireless Technologies
- Linux can also be used for Wireless WANs, such as Mobitex.
Security software for your Wireless LAN
The security included in all Wireless LAN is cost effective, so
if you want security over your Wireless LAN, you may want to check
Generic security solutions
Generic security protocols are totally independant of the underlying
technology, so will work on any kind of wired or wireless
connection. Those solutions are often classical, well defined and
- FreeS/WAN is the
popular IPsec package for Linux. Only available with 3DES
- WaveSec is a part of the
FreeS/WAN project looking at how it FreeS/WAN applies to Wireless
LANs. They provide tools, documentations and sample
- Cerberus, an
IPsec implementation from NIST. This implementation contain
many different encryption cypher (including all the AES finalists),
but is subject to US export controls.
- OpenSSH, an Open Source
implementation of the SSH protocol. A favorite for Unix users.
- PoPTop, a PPTP
server for Linux.
- PPTP-Linux, a
PPTP client for Linux.
802.11 specific security solutions
802.11 specific solutions are more complex and depend on hardware
support. They come in two parts, the first part runs between the card
and the Access Point (802.1x, WPA), the second part runs between the
Access Point and an authentication server (Radius).
- Open1x xsupplicant is an Open
Source implementation of the 802.1x protocol (capable of using
EAP/TLS to authenticate) for Linux and BSD. Recent version add support
for the WPA and WPA2 protocols.
Sulmicki has written a FAQ on how to setup 802.1x with
Radius under Linux.
- wpa_supplicant is complete
implementation of the WPA and WPA2 protocols, providing
enhanced privacy and security.
Public wireless LAN solutions
If you are deploying public wireless LAN access, you often don't want
all those complication and can use a simple captive portal.
- NoCat is a captive portal
based on HTTPS authentication and firewall filtering for Linux
currently in development.
- Chillispot is a
captive portal that support a Radius authentication server. It
also works with WPA instead of the HTTP authentication.
Other Linux Wireless Howtos and help
There is a lot of good documentation out there ;-)
Arcomano has written a good detailed Wireless Howto covering in
depth the setup of some Wireless LANs.
Buytaert has written an excellent Linux-wlan FAQ, answering
common question mostly related to the linux-wlan-ng Linux
driver for Intersil PrismII based cards.
- Anindya has done a
complete installation Howto for the PrismII and Aironet cards.
- Craig has done
some technical installation Howto for the TI, Atmel and ADMtek
Telco has a short Wireless FAQ.
- Marcel Holtmann
has a good page on Wireless LAN, in German.
- The Linux Wireless
wiki has some good information on more technical details.
- The Arlan Wireless
Router Howto explain how to use any wireless LAN as a point to
point data link between distant houses.
- Another excellent Wireless
link Howto, where they describe in details all the step by step
operations (theory, hardware, software...) of using the Symphony (or
other Wireless LAN) as a point to point connection between
distant houses. And they have a comprehensive list of links...
- The Low Cost
Wireless Network Howto explain how to use the Proxim card to
create point to point links.
Anderson has a Linux Wireless Access Point HOWTO, which
include lot's of good information on various AP topics (HostAP, DHCP,
DNS, routing, firewalling, NoCat...).
TAN has a quick Howto about Building a Secure Wireless Access
Point using the HostAP driver and FreeS/WAN.
Boxman has a pretty extensive Howto on how to use the HostAP
driver, especially to set up an Access Point.
Finlayson explain in details how to use Linux as a Wireless
router for their wireless ISP (LIVE.COM).
Bookwala explain how to set-up a Wireless HotSpot, using
OpenWrt and focusing mostly on the accounting/security
If after reading all the documentation above you still can't find the
info you are looking, here are a couple of source of help to get in
touch with other Linux users.
G. Faughnan has a page on home networking, including
Wireless LANs and Linux.
- Mad Science Research
labs explain you how to upgrade the Airport UFO to RC4
Roelle has a page on how to set up a Wavelan IEEE under
Linux-PPC and how to connect it to the "UFO" (the Apple Airport
Digital Systems has a very complete FAQ on how to setup
PCI-Pcmcia bridges under Linux.
- Jun Sun's
has a howto on how to flash PrismII firmwares under Linux or
- The Linux Pcmcia
web site has the Pcmcia FAQ and some Pcmcia
Wireless forums for all questions regarding drivers included in
the Linux Pcmcia package and the Linux kernel.
- For questions regarding point to point links, the Wavelan
users in Autralia have set up a very useful mailing list...
- Some individual drivers have specific mailing lists associated
with them, those are listed in the
Public Wireless Linux networks
If you don't want to play alone with your wireless equipement, there
are lots of people setting up public wireless networks using Linux. I
just picked a few of those with interesting info on their pages.
- WiFiMaps has some
maps of public wireless connectivity, and allow you to
locate those public wireless Access Points.
- Linux users in Australia are
using the good old Wavelan or the Wavelan IEEE to create
point to point data link between distant houses. They have set
up a mailing
list, which is not Wavelan specific and very useful.
- Guerilla Net aim to setup a
free network in the area of Boston.
- Consume the net
want to do the same in the area of London. Many mailing lists.
- Elektrosmog wants
fast Internet everywhere, starting in Sweeden.
- Seattle Wireless wants
to build a next-generation community wireless network.
- Personal Telco want to
build alternative communication networks in the area of
Portland. Their web site contains a mountain of information, such as
- NYCwireless wants Free
Public Wireless Internet for New York City. They have some mailing
- BAWUG, the Bay Area
(California) Wireless User group is pretty active and has some mailing lists.
- Reseau Citoyen is deploying
their wireless network in Bruxelles, Belgium, and has an
extensive amount of information in french.
- LIVE.COM want you to
enjoy wireless coffee in Mountain View, California.
- The Shmoo Group has setup
a database of public Wireless LAN networks.
Wireless LAN Hardware (surveys and reviews)
Various people maintain some approximate list of the hardware that is
compatible with Linux :
Just a few reviews and guides here, not Linux specific.
- Of course, I list a number of vendors in the various sections of
has one of the most exaustive list of wireless cards, and list
compatibility of PrismII cards with their own linux-wlan
- Hendrik-Jan Heins is
now maintaining an updated version of the exaustive list from
Absoval. This is very difficult task, so don't be surprised if you
find minor errors.
Telco has a short list of PrismII cards (for which many
Linux drivers are available).
Wireless has a pretty long list of cards, but the
information on this page is not always correct, so double check.
Wireless list card compatible with Kismet, and the
Langfeldt has a short list of 802.11g cards comaptible with
Pliszka has many tips on how to identify the various card,
especially USB devices.
Hecker maintains a list of all Atmel USB devices.
- Tarmo Järvalt has long lists
of cards containing various chipsets, one page per chipset,
including some Google Ads.
- The Linux Wireless
wiki has some limited hardware surveys.
NetworkManager team has a complete list of hardware and drivers
that works properly with NetworkManager.
- Most manufacturer web sites are listed in the
- Tim Higgins has a
huge amount of 802.11 information on his web site (FAQ,
articles, reviews, links), which is acurate, detailed and up to date.
Networked lists and compares the main Wireless LAN products
available on the market. Their list is long and they have reviewed in
details a lot of products.
- I've found a really good web page on the
different radio products available (now quite outdated).
- Network Computing has a long and complete article comparing
various 802.11 products. Definitely worth a read, even if they
don't mention Linux support ;-)
- PC Magazine/ZDnet has done a short review
of 802.11-b products. They have tested the latest products from
the big names.
- Toms Networking has
frequent detailed reviews of various wireless hardware.
- Synack Communications has done some testing of the Power
Consumptions of some common Wireless LANs.
Other web sites of interest (Wireless LAN related)
A random collection of links. I welcome your suggestions...
- Roger Coudé
has developped an impressive package to predict the performance and
coverage of a radio system based on the characteristic of the
- The State University of Ohio has a basic Overview
- Mark S. Mathews has a nice white paper on 802.11.
- Intersil (formerly Harris) has a lot of white
papers, but they tend to have a very strong bias towards what they
- Lot's of links
about Wireless (no longer updated).
- Ben Gross has more
links about Wireless (mostly Linux related, and quite up to
- Jacco Tunnissen has lot's
of links about Wardriving and Wireless Security.
Adoba has created The Unofficial 802.11 Security Web Page,
with many links about security issues in wireless networks and
K. Matlock used to have a very complete page on Linux BlueTooth
support, linking to all information available on the net on this
subject, but hasn't updated it in since 2001.
Chun Choong has a web page that link to various BlueTooth
research projects and papers.
- The NTIA maintain a chart of the
frequencies in use in the US. Try to find the unlicensed
- You may also want to check my
paper page, especially if you look for either my
publications or SWAP information.
Linux and other links
Some personal recommendations on the web...
- The project I'm currently officially working on for HP is called
Wireless Tools -
Updated 25 July 07
Copyright © 1996-2007 Jean Tourrilhes
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