Linux and broadband progress

Yesterday I accomplished several steps which allow me to produce customized software for the wireless router I purchased last week.

At first I managed to install a Knoppix on my Laptop and enabled WLAN connection to the router.

Installing Knoppix was easy but on the first try I made the mistake and tried to update it with current versions of all packages. BIG mistake, the installation was rendered almost useless, ending up in a state of continuous restarting the X11 Window system. Had to reinstall again.

The next step was to enable WLAN connection which was everything but trivial because the connection is made through a PCMCIA card without a clear product name. An FCC ID Search returned the senseless name of an unknown company deep in China. Great. And the PCMCIA-tools could only fetch empty strings from the card, so no luck on that side either.

Well, I had to get help from brother WindowsXP on the other partition which had working WLAN. And there inside the drivers description a chipset Identifier showed up: RT8180L. So I had a no-name-card from Realtek with the RTL8180L chipset. They even provide drivers for Linux with 2.4 and 2.6 Kernel on their homepage, yeah! ... Until you recognize, that those only work with Fedora.

But I wasn't defeated: I had heard of a project which utilizes Windows-drivers for establishing network connections with unsupported cards in Linux. NdisWrapper. Luckilly it's already included in Knoppix, so no installation hassle there. Downloaded the latest drivers from Realtek, unpacked and installed them with ndiswrapper and rebooted. The interface was finally accepted, altough it couldn't establish a connection because I secured the wireless network with WPA and a passphrase.

For that I generated a configuration file in /etc/wpa_configuration.conf containing the output from wpa_passphrase and some custom settings (see the ndiswrapper-wiki for this). Then I added a few lines to the wlan0 interface which I added to /etc/network/interfaces manually before (using almost the same setup as for eth1):

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
pre-up /usr/sbin/wpa_supplicant -Dndiswrapper -iwlan0 -c/etc/wpa_supplicant.conf -Bw
post-down killall -q wpa_supplicant

With these settings, WLAN access works without problems for me.

Later then I managed to run my first self-compiled "Hello World" application on the router using different tools and packages I already picked up for this thing all over the internet. But since this post is already that long I'll save that for later.


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