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Old 11-16-2004, 06:07 AM   #1
BrianD18
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Linux pc on Windows Wireless Network


Hello - hope this isn't too irritating from a complete newbie who is willing (and keen) to give Linux a go. Currently I am running four PCs at home on a broadband DSL connection with a Linksys wireless router and Windows XP. With the occasional problem, the network functions fine. None of the PCs are wired to the router, and are dotted around the house. Now my daughter has left home, I have a free PC on the network, and would like to install Linux on it (cleanly - no need to dual up with Windows), but would also like to retain internet connectivity using the existing broadband connection. The PCs use USB wireless connectors.

Firstly, is such a thing possible? I could always use the free machine with Linux but without the internet, but that seems pretty dispiriting, since so much of the Linux help is online!

Any help?
 
Old 11-16-2004, 06:23 AM   #2
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I would install with a newer distro, one that is likely to have your drivers either installed by default, or will be able to run them if and when you download them from the internet.

You should be able to run a NIC, wireless or otherwise, via usb, by loading the follwing modules:
Code:
root@machine#/lib/modules/%KERNELVERSION%/kernel/drivers/usb/usbcore.o

root@machine#/lib/modules/%KERNELVERSION%/kernel/drivers/usb/usb-uhci.o
OR (Depending on your Hardware)
root@machine#/lib/modules/%KERNELVERSION%/kernel/drivers/usb/usb-ohci.o
Then, you can load the driver in question, and configure it with iwconfig.

What type of card is it?
 
Old 11-22-2004, 08:04 AM   #3
BrianD18
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The distro is Red Hat 9 from Willey book.

The machine does not have a USB/Ethernet adaptor; it is a wireless USB thing (like an aerial I guess!) made by Origo.

What I cannot find on the internet is an answer to the simple question (maybe I'm phrasing it wrong) of whether it is possible to have four PCs running on the same wireless network, three of which are running Windows and the other running Linux.
 
Old 11-22-2004, 08:38 AM   #4
BrianD18
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Quote:
Originally posted by BrianD18
What I cannot find on the internet is an answer to the simple question (maybe I'm phrasing it wrong) of whether it is possible to have four PCs running on the same wireless network, three of which are running Windows and the other running Linux.
Or to put it in a simpler way for my non-technical mind, is my Linksys WAP router broadcasting a signal which can only be deciphered by Windows?
 
Old 11-22-2004, 12:49 PM   #5
Hangdog42
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Quote:
Originally posted by BrianD18
Or to put it in a simpler way for my non-technical mind, is my Linksys WAP router broadcasting a signal which can only be deciphered by Windows?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is, well, no. All wireless signals are governed by bodies other than Microsoft and are standards that any OS can follow, including Linux. With Linux the real challenge is finding drivers for wireless cards. The wireless chipset manufacturers vary in their levels of Linux support. Some provide drivers, others provide information so others can write drivers, and a distressingly large number of them ignore Linux completely or are actively hostile to Linux (Hello, Broadcom.....Anybody home?). That said, there is a project called ndiswrapper that has re-created the Windows wireless driver interface in Linux. This means that for quite a number of cards, you can use the Windows drivers to run under Linux. However, this process can either be easy (as it was in my case) or a complete nightmare. Unfortunately it is hard to tell up front. What you probably need to do is some serious searching, both here and on Google, and see if you can find anyone with your card who has success with Linux. If you do go ahead, be sure that you visit the Wireless forum here at LQ as it is a good repository of advice.

The one bit of advice I would give you up front is to find a more modern distro than RH9, which is no longer supported. In addition to some security concerns with RH9, a lot of the progress in supporting wireless cards in Linux uses newer kernel versions than RH9 uses out of the box. I would also suggest thinking about a distro other than Red Hat/Fedora. They have been doing some things lately that are rather ndiswrapper unfriendly, so if that is the route you need to take, there could be real trouble. I would suggest Mandrake as a good place to start. Debian or Slackware would also be good if you are up for more of a challenge.

Last edited by Hangdog42; 11-22-2004 at 12:51 PM.
 
Old 11-23-2004, 08:08 AM   #6
BrianD18
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Thanks for this useful info. I must admit I was a bit taken aback by your statement that Red Hat 9 is not supported. Not supported by whom? I suppose I could be criticised for not doing my research properly, but since there are so many distributions (which all have their supporters) a poor non-techie is floundering. Also the numbering conventions are confusing - I had two Wiley books to choose in my local book shop: one with Red Hat 9, the other Red Hat/Fedora Core 2. There was nothing in the books to say the latter was more up to date than the former, and I probably subconsciously thought the numbers '2' and '9' were significant, given that both products used the title 'Red Hat'.

The distro loaded easily enough, but I have been unable to resize the Gnome desktop, and the characters in Open Office are infeasibly large. I make the changes, which I am told I must 'restart the X server' to implement. Is this not the same as closing down and restarting? Apparently not, because the desktop doesn't resize. I thought perhaps I could change to the KDE desktop, but have found that although KDE is on the CDs, it doesn't load as part of the installation, and must be installed manually. Fine, only there are many tens of rpm files on the CD with the letters 'KDE' in their names and apart from not knowing which order to programme them in, I would have hoped that double clicking - or even at a push writing a command line - on the 'master' programme would have automatically loaded the sub-programmes.

I'll persevere (but watch out on eBay for a Red Hat 9 book and distro going cheap....) but I think that while its technical qualities might make Linux an attractive proposition for the commercial sector, who will have computer technicians on the payroll, it will not catch on with the personal market as long as so much effort needs to be taken because programmes and applications do not work out of the box.

I'll keep the board updated on my progress, but I doubt very much that I'll ever leave the 'Newbie' section!
 
Old 11-23-2004, 11:13 AM   #7
Hangdog42
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I think somewhere around a year ago, Red Hat stopped distributing the "Red Hat" version of linux with Red Hat 9 and started with Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise. My understanding is that they wanted to separate their distro aimed at the desktop (Fedora) from their distro aimed at the server/enterprise business (RHE). As you are seeing however, the publishing industry reacts much slower so there are still plenty of Red Hat 9 books and CD's out there. What I mean by not supporting is that Red Hat is no longer making RPM's that work with RH9. While this might not be a huge deal to an experienced user, for someone just starting out it can be a real pain and because of the lack of security patches, it can also leave them vulnerable to attack. Basically by going wiht RH9, you're using a fair bit of obsolete software and some of the troubles your having may be due to that. In general, I've found linux to be almost as easy to use as Windows, and I'm no expert by a long shot. However, the Linux learning curve can be steep. To be fair though, part of that steepness is un-learning Windows habits as much as learning the linux way.

I agree that there are a lot of distros to choose from, but if you look at distrowatch.com, you'll see that only a handful have any extensive following, and actually one of the most used is Mandrake. I've never used it, but from what I can tell, they've done a nice job with hardware detection and configuration. It might be worth a look. For what it is worth, Gnome, Open Office and KDE should work out of the box. The fact that they aren't suggests to me that RH9 isn't handling your hardware very well.
 
Old 12-02-2004, 07:21 AM   #8
BrianD18
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My Linksys WAP router can be used for both wired and wireless connection ie it has four sockets at the back for cables to computers. I've only ever run it wireless (see above). Given that USB wireless connectivity in my version of Linux seems a bit problematic, I may try a wired connection. BUT can this Linksys WAP/router handle wired and wireless connections AT THE SAME TIME? It is not clear from the manual whether it can.

I have successfully managed to load the KDE desktop and the feel of it is quite good. However, for many people internet access is by far the top priority for their pc, and perhaps more effort should be put into making it as trouble free as possible for Linux newbies. If there is any prospect of my mucking about with the Linux computer having the result of somehow locking out my Windows XP connection, then I simply won't attempt it. I'll still play around on my Linux computer, but I'll probably get bored eventually and reinstall Windows on it.
 
Old 12-02-2004, 07:55 AM   #9
Hangdog42
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Quote:
Originally posted by BrianD18
My Linksys WAP router can be used for both wired and wireless connection ie it has four sockets at the back for cables to computers. I've only ever run it wireless (see above). Given that USB wireless connectivity in my version of Linux seems a bit problematic, I may try a wired connection. BUT can this Linksys WAP/router handle wired and wireless connections AT THE SAME TIME? It is not clear from the manual whether it can.

I have successfully managed to load the KDE desktop and the feel of it is quite good. However, for many people internet access is by far the top priority for their pc, and perhaps more effort should be put into making it as trouble free as possible for Linux newbies. If there is any prospect of my mucking about with the Linux computer having the result of somehow locking out my Windows XP connection, then I simply won't attempt it. I'll still play around on my Linux computer, but I'll probably get bored eventually and reinstall Windows on it.
Don't worry about mixing wired and wireless connections. I've got a similar Linksys router and the two co-exist just fine. I"ve got a Slackware server that is connected via a wire and it runs 24/7. The rest of the computers I use (both Windows and Linux) are all connected wirelessly and there are no conflicts with the wired computer. From the router's point of view, it is all just TCP/IP. The physical connection really isn't part of the equation.
 
Old 12-02-2004, 01:34 PM   #10
Komakino
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The main issue for getting linux running wirelessly is whether there are drivers for the wireless network card. I use linux with a Linksys WUSB11 (ver 2.6) network card and a linksys router (that sounds like yours) in a different room in the house and it works just fine.

As long as you can identify the card or chipset you can search to see if any drivers exist and whether they require bizarrities like a patched kernel.
 
Old 12-03-2004, 08:41 AM   #11
BrianD18
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Thank you

This all sounds a lot more promising, so thanks.

Komakino,

Re punctuation - I agree with all your footer says, but would add that with abbreviation plurals my style is to capitalise the abbreviation and put the 's' in lower case, thus: CDs, DVDs, ASBOs etc!
 
Old 12-03-2004, 04:56 PM   #12
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Re: Thank you

Quote:
Originally posted by BrianD18
This all sounds a lot more promising, so thanks.

Komakino,

Re punctuation - I agree with all your footer says, but would add that with abbreviation plurals my style is to capitalise the abbreviation and put the 's' in lower case, thus: CDs, DVDs, ASBOs etc!
Mine too

That particular rule was from Lynn Truss's book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves"...I don't agree with everything she says and in several cases there are no hard and fast rules. It's people who are still unable (I can only presume they're too stupid) to understand the difference between "their", "there" and "they're" and that there are no apostrophes in plurals that really bug me - like the idiots I work with who keep writing "sofa's" in our stock book!
 
Old 12-03-2004, 05:43 PM   #13
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Quote:
It might be worth a look. For what it is worth, Gnome, Open Office and KDE should work out of the box. The fact that they aren't suggests to me that RH9 isn't handling your hardware very well.
redhat/fedora don't like KDE. So KDE is not installed by default. This is not a harware problem. You should have ticked in the packet selection menu in the instalation KDE. Also some distros don't install the development packages by default. This is really stupid because sooner or later every linux user will need to compile something.

Quote:
Apparently not, because the desktop doesn't resize. I thought perhaps I could change to the KDE desktop, but have found that although KDE is on the CDs, it doesn't load as part of the installation, and must be installed manually. Fine, only there are many tens of rpm files on the CD with the letters 'KDE' in their names and apart from not knowing which order to programme them in, I would have hoped that double clicking - or even at a push writing a command line - on the 'master' programme would have automatically loaded the sub-programmes.
Search the gnome menus, you'll find an add/remove package utility to install things from the cd.
 
Old 01-31-2005, 08:00 AM   #14
BrianD18
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Having had my old pc with Linux in hibernation over Christmas, I brought it out at the weekend and installed one of my gifts (NIC plus 15 metres of cabling). I had hopes but not much expectation as I plugged the cable into my router then to the pc and powered up. Would I be able to get on to the Net using Linux? Oh me of little faith! It was, as the Americans say, 'a snap' - it worked first time. I could hardly believe it - and yes indeed I did feell in a sense 'liberated' from Microsoft...

A couple of things which I'd like advice on. Firstly what would be a good firewall and virus checker to install, and secondly I've downloaded Firefox for Linux but it's come as a zip file (or the Linux equivalent). How do I unzip it? With Windows I'm used to using an icon-based approach (clicking on PKZIP) or the file is 'self-extracting. Is unzipping a function which only exists in Command Line form, or is there likely to be an unzipping facility somewhere in the RH9 disks?

Alll help gratefully received.
 
Old 01-31-2005, 09:15 AM   #15
Hangdog42
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Congrats on getting a system up and running


Quote:
Firstly what would be a good firewall and virus checker to install
The firewall bit may be tough to answer. Linux has a built-in firewall called iptables. Somewhere around the time RH9 came out, Linux underwent a shift from an earlier version called ipchains to iptables. I think RH9 uses iptables, in which case I'd reccommend Firestarter as a good front-end for iptables. Otherwise, I believe Red Hat distributed a firewall GUI in RH9. You might have a look around your system menus as it is likely to be there if you did a full install.

For viruses, the truth is few people run Linux anti-virus programs as few to no linux viruses exist in the wild. However, I have seen a number of people recommend Clam antivirus if you want to install something.

Quote:
Is unzipping a function which only exists in Command Line form, or is there likely to be an unzipping facility somewhere in the RH9 disks
In some distros, double clicking on an icon will work. It kind of depends on the distro and since RH9 was aimed at least somewhat at the desktop, that might work. Otherwise, command line extraction is a breeze. Here is a brief summary for the most common compression packages:

for .zip files: unzip filename.zip
for .tar.gz files tar zxvf filename.tar.gz
for .tar.bz2 files tar xjvf filename.tar.bz2
 
  


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