Using Linux on/in a home network

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# 1  
Old 12-18-2007
Tools Using Linux on/in a home network

I recently received an e-mail from "the faculty" at Unix-dot-Com and I was reminded of this notable resource for folks learning about Unix and its clone, Linux. I hadn't posted anything in two years and during that time, I have been working, in my spare time, on a home network combining two Linux computers and one with Windows XP-SP2. I still don't know if I can call myself an expert, but the solution to that printer problem mentioned in my last posting seems pretty obvious today. Smilie

Two critical points in my work over the past two years have been "discovering" the smb.conf SAMBA configuration file and that not all Linux distros(and versions of distros) are created equal.

Mandriva Linux 2005 LE was not a good choice for what I was trying to do back then(integrate a Linux computer into an existing Windows network as a Linux "newbie"). Ubuntu Linux(versions 6.10, 7.04 and 7.10) currently does a lot of this intergration "out of the box", as well as installing and configuring SAMBA. That doesn't mean that more current versions of Mandriva Linux wouldn't be better or that I wouldn't have done better with those older versions if I had known then what I know now.

However sobering--or even unpleasant--it may be, when you run into the limits of your knowledge, you have the opportunity to learn something new and, hopefully, valuable.

Recently, I have run into something that has me perplexed.

I have a Wi-Fi(IEEE 802.11g) segment within my home network. My home network is interconnected by a Linksys WRT-54G switch-router/wireless access point. Using the same hardware which I have now, I could locate a desktop machine(running Windows XP-SP2) anywhere in my house and it could both use WEP(it's better than nothing) encryption and Wi-Fi. But when I put Ubuntu Linux 6.10 on that same "box", the signal strength which the client "saw" seemed to drop and I couldn't connect to the router without disabling WEP. This same behavior has continued through Ubuntu Linux versions 7.04 and 7.10, too. If I moved the desktop machine using Linux into the same room as the router, I found that I could again use WEP. Frankly, I haven't tried WPA or any of the other encryption standards for Wi-Fi. My current working assumption is that any form of encryption will require a little more signal strength to work properly.

To answer an obvious question, I have thought of buying a Wi-Fi signal booster, but I haven't tried that yet.

In my current configuration, I have disabled WEP, but I'm using MAC Address Filtering and I have disabled ESSID broadcast, which probably furnishes adequate security for a moderately large city in Southern Oregon, which is where I live. On the other hand, if I were still living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would expect to be "smashed like a toad in the road" without some form of encryption on the Wi-Fi segment of my home network.

Does someone know of anything in Ubuntu Linux or its drivers which could account for this? Do you have any suggestions outside of suggesting that I stop being so "cheap" and buy a Wi-Fi signal booster? Has anyone had similar problems with signal strength, Wi-Fi and Linux?

Last edited by Annatar; 12-18-2007 at 01:17 PM..
# 2  
Old 12-20-2007
I would suggest you ask your Mandriva and Ubuntu questions in their respective forums.

Ubuntu Forums
Mandriva Club Forum

# 3  
Old 12-24-2007
Here Is What I Did About This

Smilie Even I sometimes solve a problem in the simplest and most direct way. On a recent shopping trip to Fry's Electronics in Wilsonville(Oregon), I purchased a Hawking Omidirectional Antenna for $24. (To be candid, I also bought myself three PS/2 keyboards and a package of fifty slim CD jewelcases, but that is another story.)

Within a couple of hours of arriving home, I restarted my wireless networking with WEP Encryption and installed the new antenna on my desktop machine(Wolfsberg). When I did this, everything worked perfectly, although I am still not sure what caused the original problem. Here are some of the possibilities:
1. A driver issue--one note in the Ubuntu Wikipedia suggested a radical change in the driver setup, using an "NDISWRAPPER" moeity;
2. The original antenna which came with the Linksys 802.11g/PCI card was perhaps in a bad physical location, on the back of a fairly large(full tower PC) metallic case and next to several wires at its back(video, audio output and USB trackball)--the current antenna is a couple of feet away and on top of my "lab bench".

I would like to thank CASSJ for his suggestion. I did, in fact, check those resources out, although my stated problem was solved by a different route, this time.
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