The Linux kernel has long had support for wireless networking. What the
kernel does not have, however, is support for operation as a wireless
access point. A standard Linux system has many of the required pieces
(network bridging, DHCP service, etc.), but there are necessary functions
that only the kernel can provide. These include WEP encryption (or some
other protocol), access control, Wireless Distribution System support,
The mainline kernel may not support these capabilities, but that doesn't
mean they don't exist. A few different implementations of the software
necessary to create wireless access points are out there; each has been developed
independently, and each tends to support only one family of wireless
network cards. Anybody wanting to set up an access point needs to find the
implementation best suited to the hardware at hand, patch the kernel, and
put all of the pieces together.
In an attempt to encourage the creation of a single access point support
implementation in the kernel, Jeff Garzik has announced the creation of a new wireless patch
set. He is starting with HostAP, a
widely-used software stack developed for Prism-based cards. It is, he
says, the implementation which is best suited to being evolved into a
generic wireless stack for the kernel.
A number of the other access point implementations have taken chunks of
code from HostAP, so it does seem like a good choice for a starting point.
A fair amount of work may be required, however, to move it from being a
driver for a specific set of cards to being a more generic implementation.
Jeff hopes that this work can be done without a lot of core kernel changes;
he would like to see the result merged into the 2.6 kernel. Now is the
time for interested hackers to dive in and move the code in that direction.
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