Linux WLAN (WiFi) tools under inspection

A diagram showing a possible WI-FI network.
Image via Wikipedia

I’m checking out wireless LAN tools for Linux. The reason that I do this is because I want to be ready for the multitude of different networks that are available soon. Already the electromagnetic spectrum, which means “the whole space of frequencies” is occupied quite tightly by different kind of transmission.

4G is going to be the next revolution in wireless mobility. It is aimed at mobile hosts, like phones, and small mobile computers. The nominal speed is 100 mbit/s from host to host, anywhere in the world. This is very ambitious goal.

In near history, the difference between MS Windows and Linux networking was, that certain tasks were an order of magnitude more difficult under Linux. Then Linux got more coder’s effort in networking, especially when the tools for Wifi (WLAN) networks were united, and things were manageable. There are so many kinds of users in both camps.

Basically, networking is a tricky beast. For the end user, the legendary Average Joe, network “just is”: they really couldn’t care less about the details of setting up and understanding networking.

Joes just demand a ubiquitous network and they’re ready to bark any administrator into graveyard if the network has downtime. But the reality of networking is that it is one of the most detailed, complex and unanticipated areas of computing. Networks, both fixed (wired), and wireless (radio) are prone to outages caused by several reasons, some of which are out of reach of the ISP (network provider):

  • networking hardware end-of-life (goes OFF)
  • hardware failure, like one LAN port dies
  • overheating machines
  • antennae failure (storms, ice..)
  • someone plugs off a machine’s electricty supply by accident
  • a caterpillar chunks ground and cuts cables
  • fire
  • …and so on

So both the radio and physical fixed networks are at risks which can only be statistically controlled. No one can totally prevent failures at these multitudes of components.

Fear not! The situation is not as bad as it might seem. Administrators working on networks gain experience all the time, and they are usually extremely cautious and advance-thinking people. Admins make delicate choices and their job is to react to failures. Networking is fun, with a big twist of responsibility.

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