O’Reilly Network: Recipe for a Linux 802.11b Home Network

“…Needless to say, it wasn’t long before I started thinking
about other applications for this technology. I wanted Net access
on my notebook computer from anywhere in or near my apartment, too.
I started thinking about how I might control my stereo. I
envisioned working on my laptop at a little garden table on a
beautiful day under a stand of trees on my property, while birds
chirp, leaves rustle, a light breeze wafts by, and one of
Beethoven’s symphonies blares from my window at, say, 80 dB.
Freude! Naturally, the IEEE 802.11b wireless networking standard
was the logical candidate for a means of implementing this
nefarious scheme.”

“However, OEM wireless “residential gateway” hardware isn’t
exactly cheap, running into the hundreds of dollars and even
thousands before you even start thinking about radios for the
portables. And bona fide access points are even pricier. Why go to
all that expense, I reasoned, when hardware that’s gathering dust
in my friends’ closets — hardware that they’re not using, and
would part with for nothing — will do the job just as well, with
only a little extra effort on my part. People have been using free
operating systems to build dedicated firewalls and routers on i386
and i486 machines for years. Why not add wireless?”

“So I set about about building a wireless gateway using Linux,
802.11b, and an old PC. The project was a stunning success. Doing
it right took some research, and a bit of trial-and-error, but it
seemed to me that, in the end, the task was straightforward enough
that anyone with the right hardware and a little know-how could
easily replicate our results. Therefore I’ve endeavored to
produce my “recipe” for an 802.11b gateway for you to follow at
home. (It didn’t hurt that my manager, Peter, was interested in
building one for his house.) Those of you who own the home version
of our show should be able to play along.

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