Linux wireless LAN management still lags; hints and tips available

by Guy Kewney | posted on 17 April 2002

Until recently, it was possible to find software to allow a Linux PC to join a wireless network; but the Linux user was unable to configure the access points. Now, there are ways around this.

Guy Kewney

Ironically, the first program to manage access points from a Linux PC comes because of wireless pioneer, Apple, which originally sponsored the technology by providing its AirPort at well below market rates - but refused to provide software to configure the AirPort unless you had an Apple iMac to run it on.

Immediately, private hackers pulled together tools to configure the access point from a universal browser; and the next generation of these will run on Linux too. But there is a weasel; it runs on Linux because it's a Java application.

"A really nice tool to manage AirPort Access Points is AirPort Config, by Jon Sevy at Drexel University," reports David Spector in the second part of his series on managing wireless for Linux.

Caveat: Spector has tested this software only on the AirPort itself. Because the hardware inside the AirPort is generic - Apple doesn't make it - he says he believes it will also work with the Agere/Orinoco RG1000, "which is basically the same device in different packaging and uses the same MIB." And Spector offers no guidance for users of Intersil-derived access points, or those built around chips from smaller rival manufacturers now starting to appear on the market.

"One of the nicest aspects of this program (besides that it runs on Linux) is that it's a Java program so it can run basically anywhere, even on handheld platforms like the Sharp Zaurus or the Compaq iPAQ," says Spector.

Email Spector at