Using WaveLAN IEEE under NetBSD
- Configuring the kernel
- Using the network
- Acting as an access point
- Setting up an Apple Airport Base Station
- Other WaveLAN tricks
Wireless networking under NetBSD
This document describes how to configure and troubleshoot IEEE 802.11 networking under NetBSD. Comments, additions, and corrections welcome.
Configuring the kernel (top)
NetBSD supports a number of PCMCIA/Cardbus and PCI based IEEE 802.11 compatible network cards, among them the Lucent WaveLAN, ELSA AirLancer and recent Atheros based cards. To use them, add one of the following to your kernel config:
an* at pci? dev ? function ? # Aironet PC4500/PC4800 (802.11) ath* at pci? dev ? function ? # Atheros 5210/5211/5212 802.11 atw* at pci? dev ? function ? # ADMtek ADM8211 (802.11) wi* at pci? dev ? function ? # Intersil Prism Mini-PCI (802.11b) an* at isapnp? # Aironet 802.11 an* at pcmcia? function ? # Aironet PC4500/PC4800 (802.11) awi* at pcmcia? function ? # BayStack 650/660 (802.11FH/DS) ray* at pcmcia? function ? # Raytheon Raylink (802.11) wi* at pcmcia? function ? # Lucent/Intersil WaveLan IEEE (802.11) ath* at cardbus? dev ? function ? # Atheros 5210/5211/5212 802.11 atw* at cardbus? dev ? function ? # ADMtek ADM8211 (802.11)
See your platform's sys/arch/*/conf/GENERIC kernel config file for an upto-date list. If you have the "ISA" version of one of these cards, note that it's really just a PCMCIA controller on an ISA card, so you'll need to configure a PCMCIA controller in your kernel as well.
Using the network (top)
Once you've booted a kernel with a 802.11 card driver like
ath and it has found your card, try configuring the
network by hand. Assuming you haven't changed anything yet, use
wiconfig(8) to show the card's
Most of the network card's parameters can be changed using
wiconfig(8) (deprecated), in NetBSD
3.0 (and -current as of August 2004) there will also be a
wlanctl(8) command. Remember that you can get a list of
available media and media options with "ifconfig -m wi0".
Assuming that the defaults are correct for your network, you should see "Current netname" (or SSID) change to reflect the name of the wireless network which has been set in the access point your card is communicating with. If you need to change this, use the ifconfig(8) "ssid" keyword (or "nwid", if you are on NetBSD 1.6.x) to do so:
# ifconfig wi0 ssid foobar
If you don't know your network's SSID, you can try the empty string
"") if your access point is tuned to broadcast it's SSID;
this is equivalent to a SSID of "ANY" on Windows systems.
You may also want to set different media and media options according
to the output of "
ifconfig -m", e.g. "mediaopt turbo" can be
used to enable 108MBps mode on Atheros cards, if the access point
supports that mode.
If there is no change, you may need to adjust the channel your card is
communicating on, using "
ifconfig ath0 chan XX" for channel
XX. The number of available channels depends on your country, 802.11
mode (11b, 11g, 11a, ...) and access point settings. For
802.11b, there are 14 channels possible; We are told that channels
1-11 are legal for North America, channels 1-13 for most of Europe,
channels 10-13 for France, and only channel 14 for Japan. If in
doubt, please refer to the documentation that came with your card or
access point. Make sure that the channel you select is the same
channel your access point (or the other card in an ad-hoc network) is
on. The default for cards sold in North America and most of Europe is
3; the default for cards sold in France is 11, and the default for
cards sold in Japan is 14.
To determine if your network connection between your wireless card and a base station is enabled, check ifconfig(8) output, status should be "active" there.
Once you have good communication with the base station or other
ad-hoc device, you should configure the wireless network interface
just like you would any other network interface. Use
dhclient(8) or whatever you normally
use. The interface should behave more or less like an ethernet
Acting as an access point (top)
In theory, there is no reason why the card could not be configured as a true
access point. This means acting as a gateway between clients (which do not
In order to do this, use "
mediaopt hostap" to ifconfig(8):
# ifconfig wi0 ssid mynet nwkey foobar mediaopt hostap up
The above example also shows how to set WEP keys, see ifconfig(8) for more documentation. Important: For this to work, the firmware needs to be recent enough for Lucent/Orinocco cards. Although 6.04 seems to be the absolute minimum, 6.06 was found to be unreliable. 7.28 is known to work.
See also Hoang Q. Tran's web page on how to build a wireless 802.11b Access Point using NetBSD.
Setting up an Apple Airport Base Station (top)
Apple provide software for setting up an Apple Airport Base Station. It
requires a Macintosh running Mac OS 8.6 or greater. The Airport Base Station
Configurator (available as
net/airportbasestationconfig in the NetBSD
packages collection for i386 and powerpc based platforms) is a Java
application that can be used to inspect and change the configuration of
Apple's Airport Base Station. Please see www.info.apple.com for
details on how to use Apple's AirPort Admin Utility.
Other WaveLAN tricks (top)
WEP encryption can be enabled using "
ifconfig nwkey" with a
number of options, see ifconfig(8) for more information.
Power-saving can be enabled with "
ifconfig ath0 powersave",
ifconfig ath0 -powersave" to disable it again. You'll
see ping times go up, but your power consumption should decrease.
(Wireless cards do suck a lot of power; if you plan on using this
while unplugged from the mains, its is recommended). You can do this
from the command line, or, if you use
apmd(8), you can
control it automatically, with scripts in
apmd(8) for details)
Here's some quick-and-dirty scripts to get you going:
Put the following in
#!/bin/sh # look for 'wi' and 'ath' interfaces, and take them out of # power-saving mode. INTERFACES=`/sbin/ifconfig -l -u` for i in $INTERFACES; do case $i in ath*|wi*) /sbin/ifconfig $i -powersave ;; esac done
And this in
#!/bin/sh # look for 'wi' and 'ath' interfaces, and put them in power-saving # mode. (Only do this for interfaces which are up) INTERFACES=`/sbin/ifconfig -l -u` for i in $INTERFACES; do case $i in wi*|ath*) /sbin/wiconfig $i powersave ;; esac done
Assuming you have APM configured correctly, you should see the card go into power-saving mode when you disconnect the mains, and return to normal usage when it's plugged back in!
On certain machines the
wi will appear to work until traffic
is actually sent, at which point it will lock the entire machine.
Sometimes you may get a ping response, sometimes not, but invariably
everything will lock up. While most PCMCIA cards only use 16 bytes or
less of I/O space, the WaveLAN card uses a very large amount (64
bytes), and this can conflict with some device on the laptop which
wasn't actually configured. This is a common problem with laptops;
documentation is somewhat sparse, and NetBSD isn't very good (yet) at
all forms of autodetection.
In one case the machine was booted under Windows and the I/O range used
by every single device that Windows found examined. (The
'resources' tab of each device in the "Device Manager"). Sure enough,
the audio system had a compatibility mode (which NetBSD didn't need)
which used part of the range that NetBSD was assigning to
How to fix this? The easiest option is to force NetBSD to only assign
PCMCIA I/O space from a specific range of addresses: find a large
range which is unused by the laptop (at least 64 bytes!), and in your
kernel configuration file, specify where to start, and how much can be
allocated. In one case (this range may not work for you!), it was told
to use 256 bytes beginning at address 0x600, using the kernel options
respectively. In the kernel config file, it looks like this:
options PCIC_ISA_ALLOC_IOBASE=0x600 options PCIC_ISA_ALLOC_IOSIZE=0xff
Remember, these values are probably not right for you!! To find the correct value for your system, you need to either consult documentation (if you can find it), or write down every single range used by every single device under Windows, and pick a range that appears empty.
This is probably obvious to some, but if you don't see the PCMCIA card,
the problem probably lies with the configuration of the
device. In particular, you may need to tweak the iomem (and possibly
iosize) parameters of the
pcic(4) device. In one case, the
following configuration was used:
pcic1 at isa? port 0x3e2 iomem 0xcc000 iosiz 0x4000 options PCIC_ISA_ALLOC_IOBASE=0x300 options PCIC_ISA_ALLOC_IOSIZE=0x0ff
On this particular system, many addresses were tried for iomem without luck. Windows gave the answer as it was using 0xcc000 and the card working. These values may not work for you!
Thanks to Jeff Rizzo for producing this document, Bill Paul for writing the driver for FreeBSD, Bill Sommerfeld for porting it to NetBSD, Chris Hopps both for helping and Bill Sommerfeld and for pointing out the I/O conflicts.
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