Wireless router?

Roland Smith rsmith at xs4all.nl
Mon Dec 22 23:13:01 UTC 2008

On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 01:49:44PM -0800, Nerius Landys wrote:
> I have a PC with FreeBSD set up as a router (NAT). The PC has several
> network cards and I'm grouping the internal-facing network cards as a
> bridge (promiscuous mode for the interfaces).  Everything works well.
> Now I'd like to extend my wired network to include wireless.  I really
> have no experience with wireless networks.  I have a couple of
> computers that are wireless-ready (a laptop and a Playstation 3 that I
> won in a raffle).  Is it possible to somehow add some hardware to my
> FreeBSD router PC to make it into a wireless router? 


> What kind of hardware would I install?  What is it called? 

Wireless card.

> The PC only has PCI slots, can you recommend a brand and model of
> "wireless server equiptment" if such a thing exists?  Would a normal
> wireless card suffice?


> What model should I get? 

Now that's the tricky bit. If you look at the wlan(4) manual page,  you
will see the supported wireless chipset in the SEE ALSO section.

The trick is knowing which chipset a certain card has. It is usually
_not_ listed on the box or on the manufacturer's website, because it
comes with windoze drivers so most of the users don't give a damn about
the chipset. And some manufacturers put different chipsets in different
batches of the same card depending on what they can get their hands on.

If you see a card that you like and you cannot get the name and type of
chipset used, download the windows driver. It will come with an in
information file (.inf) that usually contains the name and type of the

> I would prefer to set up static internal IPs for my wireless network
> at home, would this be possible?  Or is DHCP the way to go (I hesitate
> at the thought of configuring a DHCP server).

You could use the wlan_acl module to grant access based on the MAC
address. But it might be better to do it somewhat more sophisticated and
run hostapd(8).

> Another way to go is to hook up a standalone wireless router appliance
> to my FreeBSD machine's network interface (one of the interfaces).  I
> already have such a device, I think it's made by Linksys.  But then, I
> would be NAT'ing both through the FreeBSD machine and through the
> wireless router.  So it would be a double-NAT so to speak.  Is there
> anything wrong with that approach?

It's probably easier. But you'll have to be on the lookout for
vulnerabilities in the router software. 

When I got a wireless card for my desktop, the idea was to make a
wireless conncetion to my laptop. But you have to set up hostapd on the
access point, and wpa_supplicant on the laptop. And the manual pages in
question don't give an overview of the process, and neither does the
handbook. The section of the handbook dealing with wireless networks is
outdated and in need of expert attention. Unfortunately I didn't get far
enough to be that expert.

In the end it was much easier and faster for me to just plug a
cross-cable into the laptop from the desktop. (fast=nice when you're
running rsync(1) or if you're transferring dumps via nc(1))

R.F.Smith                                   http://www.xs4all.nl/~rsmith/
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