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developerWorks: Building a Wireless Access Point on Linux

Jul 29, 2003, 07:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Peter Seebach)

[ Thanks to SamIam for this link. ]

"In this article, I'll take you through the process of building a wireless access point running Linux. I won't cover every last line of code, every intermediate step, or every detail of hardware; that would take a book and would be obsolete by the time you read it. The goal is to show you what kinds of concerns and pitfalls you'll face should you want to do this. For this piece, we build the access point to operate as a bridge; simply forwarding packets between the wireless network and a local ethernet. This allows wireless devices to simply be turned on and attached using your existing network--no new configuration, no special routing.

"Maybe I should start with 'Why not to bother.' It's pretty clear that buying an off-the-shelf device is a lot cheaper than building a custom box. The hardware that went into this ran me around $400, and that's not including the possible value of a few hours of my time. Having said that, there are two good reasons to build your own wireless access point.

"The first is flexibility and customizability. Want a firewall? No problem. Custom routing? NAT? All easily managed. Custom Web-based configuration? Half an hour's work with CGI scripts. You can add traffic graphing if you like. That off-the-shelf box may have a special Windows-only configuration tool, so it won't be possible to ssh in and change your settings. You won't be able to run your weblog off of the Web server. If there's a problem, you have to wait for a 'firmware upgrade'--which may or may not address your problem..."

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