Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • spinynorman

      Mandriva Official Documentation

      Official documentation for extant versions of Mandriva can be found at doc.mandriva.com.   Documentation for the latest release may take some time to appear there. You can install all the manuals from the main repository if you have Mandriva installed - files are prefixed mandriva-doc.
    • paul

      Forum software upgrade   10/29/17

      So you may have noticed the forum software has upgraded !!!
      A few things that have changed. We no longer have community blogs (was never really used) We no longer have a portal page.
      We can discuss this, and decide whether it is needed (It costs money) See this thread: Here
neddie

WLAN Newbie needs help [solved]

Recommended Posts

I know nothing about WLAN. Up till now I've had a fixed wired network and it's worked great. It went something like this:

 Wall --- Modem --- Router --- Computer1 (Linux)
                     L------- Computer2 (WinXP)

 

So far so good. Now I've got a new flat and unfortunately the sockets are arranged such that the only place the modem can be is miles away from where the computers need to be. :sad: So I'm going to have to (reluctantly) setup some kind of WLAN link, I can't see any other way to do it.

 

The most obvious option is to add some kind of WLAN receiver to each of the two PCs, like this:

 Wall --- Modem --- WLANRouter  z z z  Computer1 (Linux)
                               z z z  Computer2 (WinXP)

where "z z z" is a wireless link. This means adding new bits to the PCs of course, and it seems those would either be external USB dongles or internal PCI cards, or perhaps even internal USB modules which might make things a bit neater. I would have to make sure though that those adapters were compatible with the older XP hardware and with the linux OS - can anyone suggest ways to ensure this would be reasonably painless? Anything I would need to bear in mind when buying those adapters?

 

A second option would be to get what I think is called a "wireless bridge", which would offer wired connections to the two PCS:

 Wall --- Modem --- WLANRouter  z z z  Bridge--- Computer1 (Linux)
                                         L----- Computer2 (WinXP)

This might be a bit more expensive (and would be yet another box sucking power) but I have the feeling it might make the compatibility a bit easier, because the PCs just have wired networks as far as they're concerned. Am I right?

 

A third option might be to have a WLAN receiver on one of the PCs which would then offer a wired ethernet connection to the second PC, but even if that were possible that would mean that PC1 would have to be powered on for PC2 to have network access, so that wouldn't work.

 

So, can anyone offer any advice what would be the cheapest / easiest / neatest solution to this problem? And of course my next question would be for whatever kind of wireless link, how would I make sure that:

a ) Noone else can connect to my WLAN router (WPA encryption? MAC address filtering?)

b ) Noone can sniff what's going between my computers and the WLAN router (WPA encryption?)

c ) Noone can access my computers or my bridge

 

I realise that's a bunch of questions there but this is all new to me and there's a bewildering variety of products on sale. You guys for sure know how to make sometihng like this neat, reliable and secure, right? :D

Edited by neddie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you thought about using homeplugs Neddie? These are the plugs that fit into the mains socket and you use the ethernet cards in your pc's. It's not a cheap option but I use a couple on my system and apart from taking up a wall socket they are very good indeed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Neddie,

 

There's a couple of ways. First, install some PCI wireless cards, but try to get some that are either Atheros or Intel chipsets. These are generally supported really well under Linux, especially the Intel ones.

 

Another alternative, is get an ASUS WL-330GE for your computers. This is a bit of overkill, but they are really cool. They have multiple modes, DSL modem, wireless access point and can also be used as a wireless card. Basically, you put it in this mode, connect it to your ethernet card (which you know already works fine with Linux), and you don't need to worry about wireless drivers in Linux :)

 

Because it gets the IP from the wireless access point that you have or wireless router, and then passes this to the ethernet card by bridging the WL-330GE to your ethernet card like a normal DSL modem would work. I have one of these as an access point, but I love the variety of ways that it can be used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your replies! :)

About the power socket idea, it sounds interesting but perhaps a bit too experimental for me! I've no idea whether it would work in this country, or in this flat, or between circuits in this flat. I don't want to buy expensive kit that I then can't use.

 

I looked at that Asus gadget, Ian, and it seems like a similar idea to the "bridge" thing I was looking at, except the Asus one only has one ethernet port so presumably I'd either need two of them, or take the output from there into a regular router... but it's more or less the same price as the four-port bridge anyway.

 

I'll look at the PCI cards too, although my little Shuttle hasn't got space for cards like that so I'd have to go for either an internal or external USB thingy.

 

What about securing the network, is it sufficient to just tell it to use WPA and that's good enough? Or is it recommended to use MAC-address filtering? Is it useful (or possible) to make the WLAN router more directional so that the signal is only strong in the direction of the intended bridge / access point?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The external Netgear USB sticks I've used that came with a Netgear WG602v3 that I bought ages ago. Worked with Linux, without any ndiswrapper or anything, last time I remember trying. Netgear stuff generally expensive but good. Most of my stuff is netgear, except the ASUS that I last bought as a cheaper access point because nothing else was available at the time. And yes, with the ASUS thing you'd need one for each computer to connect to the WLAN Router as a client - not exactly a bridge as such - only a bridge between the ASUS Wireless to the ethernet port of the card it's connected to. Similar in how a DSL modem would bridge to the ethernet port it's connected to.

 

WPA is enough, this is encrypted with TKIP. WPA2 is better, as it's encrypted with AES. You can also do MAC filtering as well if you want, but remember that if you get a new wireless card, you'll have to add the MAC before you'll be able to connect to the WLAN router. The only way you can make the wireless signal directional is by using a directional antenna. The ones by default are 360 degrees. I've got two flat panel antennas between two houses 20-30 metres apart mounted on the external walls - bit excessive for what you want inside the house though I would say. The standard antenna will be enough - and one thing to bear in mind, not all WLAN routers/access points have a removable antenna for you to remove. If that's what you want, then get a Netgear DG834GT wireless router or a ASUS RT-N10 wireless router - I have both of these and the standard antenna can be removed and connected to other antennas with the use of a cable which you'll also need to get to connect to a flat panel antenna, etc.

 

All it comes down to, is how much you want to pay and what you want to achieve :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry, I was forgetting where you live Neddie. The homeplugs that I use in the UK are superb. I have use some for about 3 years now with no problem. It would depend on the mains wiring you have whether they would work for you.

A word on MAC filtering though, it is useless. Anyone with an ounce of modicum can fake a MAC No. There are apps freely available to do the job, It's only a script at the end of the day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A word on MAC filtering though, it is useless.

 

Not necessarily useless, but does make life a lot harder for them than if it wasn't used at all. It'd keep the majority of people out. Of course, a MAC can be generated, but they'd have to scan to get a MAC address that has been allowed access via the wireless in the first place. You wouldn't generally use an app to generate one - since the wireless router will only be allowing mac addresses that are in it's allowed list - and they will be the MAC addresses you added to the list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My five cents, i have a modem - router (smc with one antenna) - 5 netbooks - 1 laptop - 1 pc 1 printer (cable on te router)

All of them are connected wireless to the router and it works perfectley. My only protections are firewall in the router, mac-adress filtering and wep-key.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was thinking of the environment that neddie would be operating in. A flat gives me the impression there will be other operators in close proximity. In this sort of environment there is a greater possibility of some unscrupulous person want a free ride or other malicious acts. Of course for the totally unitiated then a MAC is a barrier, but one that is very easily overcome. I have done that same thing between houses to show my neighbours how easy it is. With their permission of course. Maybe I should have said that MAC filtering is next to useless. Neddie appeared to want to feel secure when using wireless so I mentioned about MAC filtering as being insecure.

 

Willie: You most likely wouldn't know if anyone was listening in on your wifi until your bank details were stolen or worse. Of course the system will work it's just insecure. I would be worried.

Edited by SilverSurfer60

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MAC filtering on it's own isn't going to stop them, but it stops them connecting by default. First they'd have to do some scanning which is easy enough, collect some traffic and identify a MAC address. Haven't done it, so don't know exactly, and it doesn't interest me so much.

 

But the biggest barried is the encryption. WPA is the one to use. WEP can be easily cracked, so once they have a MAC and cracked WEP, they are in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But the biggest barried is the encryption. WPA is the one to use. WEP can be easily cracked, so once they have a MAC and cracked WEP, they are in.

That I totally agree with. As far as the act of scanning etc, I did it to find out how easy it really was and how secure my own system was. On both counts I was astounded. From there on I learned how to make it tight. It's job is done, however the tools are still there and I have no visions of using them again. My neighbours are also pleased and feel secure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Neddie appeared to want to feel secure when using wireless
You got it! :D

 

I agree that MAC filtering is not perfect but as Ian says it's not obvious what a faker would need to fake, so it's better than nothing I guess.

 

The main question was whether the individual PCs connect wirelessly to the router, or whether they connect via a wire to a single access point. From the sounds of it it doesn't really matter too much (except maybe for the speed of transferring files from one PC to the other? I guess over wires through the access point would be faster than wirelessly to the router and then wirelessly back again?) But it sounds like it's just a question of the cheapest way to do it then. Given that some laptops have problems between wireless cards and linux (or at least they used to?), I guessed the same might be true for desktops too, so in that case it might be a better idea to use a single bridge.

 

Oh well, thanks for your advice guys!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could bridge two routers together providing they have the bridging capabilities via wireless, or, one as a wireless client of the other main router with the dsl connection. With the PC's connected to the router via cable. That way also, no wireless cards to worry about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought one of these http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0332391 for a desktop PC (admittedly running Windows Vista 64). Range is excellent. Uses a cable with 2 USB plugs to connect to the computer. Needs both plugs for power reasons. Only drawback was that the cable was not as long as I wanted (IIRC, maybe 5') and the single USB plug at the cradle end was a miniature type making it more difficult to extend the length.

 

 

 

I have a Netgear wireless router with USB print server and NAT (network address translation). It supports WPA2, WPA, and WEP, TKIP and AES, and MAC filtering). Works great. This router (Netgear FWG114P v2) is several years old and no longer sold.

 

If it was me, I would get a powerful wireless router with NAT, Stateful Packet Inspection, and MAC filtering that supports WPA2, such as the following:

http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0290434

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you thought about using homeplugs Neddie? These are the plugs that fit into the mains socket and you use the ethernet cards in your pc's.

I owe you an apology, SilverSurfer60, it seems I reacted hastily to your suggestion. After a little research it turns out that they're actually quite widespread (I thought they were UK-only) and there are several such products on offer here too. Of course you still need to be somewhat concerned about security because you don't know how far the signals will travel, but there are encrypted setups on sale here. I guess you get the advantage of less radiation but it works out to be quite a bit more expensive than WLAN and I still don't know whether it will work between the rooms here - maybe the rooms are on different circuits, or maybe the wiring is old, and so on.

 

But then again I don't know for certain whether WLAN will work either (maybe the walls are full of metal etc etc), but trying WLAN is a lot cheaper than trying the powerline thingies. I'll try with a single USB WLAN receiver and see how that goes. I've snarfed a free WLAN router so that's definitely the easiest way to try out.

 

I didn't realise WPA was just based on a password though (called a passphrase but still...) I thought it was based on certificates or something. So it's a good idea to generate a random passphrase somehow do you think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×