FreeBSD with Netgear WG311T

A few days I wrote about my new Soekris net5501 router. In that post I mentioned that the only thing left to sort out was the wireless card. It turned out to be simpler to do than I thought.

I decided to go for a Netgear WG311T. It’s a 802.11b/g PCI card that’s compatible with FreeBSD through the Atheros chipset and ath driver, and it fits in the net5501 just fine. As expected I had to remove the net5501 board from the case to attach the card, but that only involved undoing a handful of screws.

Getting it working on FreeBSD was trivial. I added the following lines to my kernel configuration (they’re already there in GENERIC, I believe, but I built my own kernel because of the net5501):

device wlan
device wlan_ccmp
device wlan_scan_ap
device wlan_scan_sta
device wlan_xauth
device ath
device ath_hal
device ath_rate_sample

Then it was a simple case of initialising the card in /etc/rc.conf:

ifconfig_ath0="inet 1.2.3.4 netmask 255.255.255.0 ssid myssid mode 11g mediaopt hostap"
ipv6_ifconfig_ath0="1:2:3::4 prefixlen 64"

And I also added ath0 to rtadvd_interfaces and dhcpd_interfaces.

With that done the final step was to configure hostapd through /etc/hostapd.conf:

interface=ath0
debug=1
ctrl_interface=/var/run/hostapd
ctrl_interface_group=wheel
ssid=myssid
country_code=GB
wpa=2
wpa_passphrase=my passphrase
wpa_key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
wpa_pairwise=CCMP

This enables WPA2 using AES (rather than TKIP).

Connecting clients was no problem. My laptop and my squeezeboxes all connected fine.

One concern I had doing this was whether a PCI wireless card would have the same signal strength as a purpose access point. I seem to be getting the same signal power from this new setup as I did from my old 3com 802.11b access point. What does that tell me? I’m not sure. I would have expected technology to have come on a bit over the years. Maybe it has, but the fact that the card is lower powered balances it out? Regardless, it covers my whole house, so it’s not an issue.

So now I’m done. I’ve switched off my last piece of old equipment. My power draw has dropped significantly, the noise levels have decreased, and I’m a happy geek with a cupboard full of shiny new stuff. 🙂

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