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Thread: Learning Linux / Wireless Issues

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  1. #1
    Just burned his ISO
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    Apr 2010

    Question Learning Linux / Wireless Issues

    Learning Linux / Wireless Issues

    In windows, to configure a wireless card / interface, you would download the drivers / software and install them and then either use the software provided or the wireless zero config util to connect to wifi.

    Moving over to Ubuntu there was something else in place - my drivers seemed to be automatically aquired and all I had to do was figure out how to use ifconfig to turn my wireless on, after figuring out which of my devices that was.

    Now I've installed backtrack, and there seems to be a myriad of science to wade through just to connect to my wireless ( and for a while wired ) network at home.

    Don't get me wrong, I wanna learn, I have a hungry hacker brain, but here's a list of things I've learnt so far in trying to get my wireless connection working

    dhcpcd ( not installed on backtrack ? )
    dhclient ( something to do with dhcp i guess - will research what that even is later >.< )
    setting my ESSID & what essid is, setting wep key, and setting the channel ( wireless channels - who knew? not me )
    installing programs with apt and using apt-get for installs

    ... and a plethora of forum searchings...

    and guess what - still no wireless connection what so ever.
    (I just wanna use my laptop in my bed - my back hurts - *cry*)

    I'm thinking that maybe I'll have to download and install drivers, and look deeper into that topic, or perhaps I'll just figure out that I've slightly misused the iwconfig eth1 key "MYKEY" syntax,

    I'm thinking to my self - maybe this is why people don't use linux...

    again, don't get me wrong, one day I do want to know all about the structure of how all this works, and then some more about the underlying structure in place that holds up and supports that structure etc... but I don't want to have to learn it all now before I can do anything at all.

    Where's the book or guide entitled 'Linux System Administration Basics' that I'd hoped to see on forum sites and the internet literally being thrust in my face by people saying: 'Don't ask me a damn thing until you've at LEAST read or referenced this book buddy!'

    I long to read the chapter on wireless configuration, or how about the one that tells you how to even know what drivers and devices your system is running and whether they are the best ones or could be updated?

    It nearly drove me mad about a hour ago when my blood sugar dropped just before I went and got some scones from the fridge to sort me out.

    I need a reference that 'skims the surface and gives a basic but broad knowledge of linux systems' to get me started. Then when I think to myself - how does one do .... in linux? I might come up with some lead without having to go through lists of commands to look for one that sounds like it might help me, or try searching on forums only to find out that someone somewhere knows the "xcd(sdse"£$" command that will help me configure x so that I can use it with y and the "09fdlj" command...

    Know what I mean?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator lupin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Default Re: Learning Linux / Wireless Issues

    The basic process for using wireless in Linux is:
    • Ensure a driver for your card is loaded.
    • Configure the card at the wireless access level, this means setting the details of the specific wireless access point and encryption type (e.g. WEP, WPA).
    • Configure the card to use TCP/IP, assigning an IP address, subnet mask, gateway, DNS servers, etc.

    For the driver: These are normally implemented as modules loaded into the kernel. Use tools such as lshw, lspci and lsusb to view installed hardware so you know what type of device you have. Using the correct comand line options these will also show drivers (kernel modules) associated with each piece of hardware - if the driver is loaded. Tools like lsmod, insmod, rmmod and modprobe are used to actually manage kernel modules (list loaded modules, add modules, remove them, etc), and there are also a number of configuration files like those in /etc/modprobe.d/ which are used to configure those modules. Thats the background info you need to know.

    Regards actually getting the driver loaded (or confirming whether its already loaded), your best bet here is to find what type of card you have via lshw, lspci or lsusb, then Google it to find out more about its Linux driver. If its not already installed and loaded (hint: knowing the module name will help you check) then you need to find out how to get it and install it. If a supported driver exists for your card, Google should be able to help you find out how to install it.

    For the layer two and three configuration steps, either use wicd or this or purehates guide in the HowTo section.
    Capitalisation is important. It's the difference between "Helping your brother Jack off a horse" and "Helping your brother jack off a horse".

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  3. #3
    Just burned his ISO
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Default Re: Learning Linux / Wireless Issues

    You're going about it the wrong way.

    From a newbie stand point - you're main concern is getting that wifi card to work! (not knowing all the in/outs of linux wifi) You need to crawl before you walk.

    You're frustrated at the moment... once you get that card going, you'll be a little less shock at what you're going to have to read to be at the level you desire.

    BUT, your post is useless to us, if you don't even post the most important thing.....
    your wifi card model!?!?

    For all we know... your card could possibly not even be supported in BT.
    Last edited by Newbie_from_NJ; 05-15-2010 at 03:55 AM.

  4. #4
    Just burned his ISO
    Join Date
    Apr 2010


    Thanks guys - I've cooled off a bit now ^^
    I can't believe I forgot to tell you my wireless card models.
    funny thing - both those links you send me ( one about the new to linux reads and one about wireless config ) I've read before and or have bookmarked- however, those new commands should help me muchly.
    On my laptop ( ibm thinkpad t41 I have a cisco mini-pci wireless lan adapter, and on my PC I have a Ralink 7728ln pci )
    Is there a list of compatible / non compatible hardware that is searchable for bt? or shall I just use the forum page concerning that?
    Is there *somewhere* a list of *most commonly used / most useful / need to know* bash commands that I can study? Just a list would be good cas of man pages obv.

    Newbie_from_NJ - The point I was trying to make (albeit unsuccessfully ^^ was that I felt forced to learn how to walk theoretically before I could even crawl )

    Thanks for all your help - Good to see a fast reply from mods as well there

    I'm pleased to announce that this morning I managed to correctly configure my wireless card to the network. Thanks for all your help.

    Last edited by balding_parrot; 05-17-2010 at 12:50 AM.

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