"Mesh networks are a type of wireless network. As you'll
discover, mesh networking is great for blanketing Wi-Fi in larger
areas. They are especially useful in places where the environment
changes frequently, such as people and walls moving around in
malls, trees and buildings growing around an apartment complex,
boats moving around the docks, and trucks coming in and out of
stops. Additionally, they are perfect for locations and
applications where it's hard to run network cabling.
"Instead of having to run Ethernet cables to each of the access
points, mesh networks work wirelessly. Only one mesh node (or more
for larger networks) must be grounded and plugged into an Internet
connection. Other mesh nodes, acting as repeaters, can be placed
throughout a building or outdoor area, only requiring power. When
someone surfs the web from a repeater, the traffic hops from
node-to-node, making it back to a gateway. The hops can vary
depending upon the current signal levels among them all. Hence the
common saying about mesh, "self configuring and healing", and why
they are perfect for busy areas.
"Where does Linux or open source come into play? Well, there's
Open-Mesh, a volunteer-based organization that provides hardware
and services for mesh networks. The comparatively low-cost
hardware, or nodes, are loaded with open-source firmware."