[nSLUG] Wireless Router

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Sun Mar 14 08:03:17 ADT 2010

On Sat, Mar 13, 2010 at 4:43 PM, Jack Warkentin <jwark at eastlink.ca> wrote:

> Hi Everybody
> I would like to comment on several of the ideas already discussed on
> this topic.
> 1. 802.11: a, b, g, n?
> I would go with a router capable of both g and n with MIMO. Why? my
> a/b/g router/access point is 4 1/2 years old and still (as far as I
> know) going strong.

802.11n is backwards compatible with b and g.  802.1a is 5GHz and is
a big help if there are already a lot of 802.11 b or g devices nearby.

Many companies now have 2-3 models with 802.11n.   MIMO costs more
and is hard to fit in a small package as it needs multiple antennas (usually
3).   Many older routers had 2 antennas but did not use MIMO -- the 2
antennas are wired in parallel and simple help get a less directional
pattern -- helpful if you need to connect from more than one location in
your house, but MIMO is a significant benefit under conditions were
older boxes give marginal connections.  Note that having MIMO on the
router helps with older laptops that don't have MIMO.

> I had an issue with it a year or two ago when I could not connect from
> some locations in my house. The advice I discovered/obtained suggested
> that the highest-up location in the building that you could find for it
> would give you the best coverage. I moved it from downstairs to upstairs
> and have had no more connectivity problems. 802.11n with MIMO generally
> (as George has indicated) is likely to give better coverage. The netbook
> I bought last year has n capability but has to make do with g for
> connection to my router.
> If you buy a new laptop a few years from now and your router is sill
> working well, you will want your new machine to still be able to work
> with the old router. To me it is always worthwhile buying the latest
> technology (as long as it is well proven and not at "introduction"
> prices) in order to ensure compatibility with possible future purchases
> - as far into the future as possible.
> 2. Laptop wireless card chipset
> There used to be a lot of issues with Linux drivers for wireless cards.
> These have declined in recent years but have still not disappeared
> completely. I have never been able to get either my older laptop or
> newer netbook to work with Network Manager on any version of Ubuntu,
> although both work quite nicely on Debian Squeeze with ifupdown while at
> home and rutilt away from home. (They both have Ralink-based wireless
> card chipsets.)
> If you have not yet bought your laptops, selecting one whose wireless
> chipset has a good known Linux driver could save many hours of frustration.

If you have a chipset that is not well supported in linux and use the laptop
on a desk, consider a 2nd router that can be configured to connect to the
existing router and use ethernet with the laptop.  You can get PCMCIA
cards or USB dongles, but a router will have better antennas and can
be used for multiple ethernet connections.  Many wireless routers now
have USB ports for printers or external disks.

Spending more for a higher grade router can make a big difference.  There
are few things worse than an unreliable network connection if you are
working to a deadline.

> 3. DHCP Reservations/Static Leases
> I strongly support Michael's stand on this. You want to be able to set
> up your /etc/hosts file so that you can connect between machines by
> name, rather than by pinging around until you can discover the current
> IP address of the machine you want to connect to.

I don't find this necessary, but it is something you will find on the higher-end

Service discovery (Zeroconf, Bonjour) allows you to use <hostname>.local
to connect to systems with DHCP assigned addresses by name.  As long
as you don't need the fixed IP for external access service discovery should
be fine for internal networking.
See: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avahi_(software)>

Many people have come to expect wireless connections to be erratic.
With proper equipment wireless can be robust.

> Regards
> Jack
> Gerard MacNeil wrote:
>> I am in need of acquiring a Wireless Router for a small network. I want
>> to be able to have both linux and winders laptops to be able to connect.
>> Upstream is Aliant DSL.
>> Anything I should look/look out for? Amy make/models I should prefer?
>> Any idea where I should get such beasts and at what price? Anybody
>> upgrading planning an upgrade soon? :)
>> Thanks in advance
>> Gerard
>> _______________________________________________
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>> nSLUG at nslug.ns.ca
>> http://nslug.ns.ca/mailman/listinfo/nslug
> --
> Jack Warkentin, phone 902-404-0457, email jwark at eastlink.ca
> 39 Inverness Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3P 1X6
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George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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