OS/2 Warp Compatible Hardware List Web site: OS/2 and WiFi WLAN
Lost your wire?
Wireless Networking with OS/2 and eCS.
Part 1 2003/07/15F 2004/04/07M
© 2002-2004, Jonas Buys
WiFi, the term is mentioned everywhere nowadays. Unfortunately, taken a look
at the specifications of wireless devices on the manufacturer's web site, Windows-only
is stated very often. Does this mean wireless networking is impossible with
OS/2, UNIX and Linux? Not at all! A whole variety of drivers that enable use
of most wireless network cards available today will soon be available for the
OS/2 Warp platform. This article will introduce the drivers that are already
available and that work excellent.
But just because the technology is available for OS/2, that doesn't mean you
must rush to your local computer reseller, and switch your network to WiFi instantaneously.
People who have some insight in the networking branch will tell you to keep
security issues in mind.
It is my intention to have this article easy to read for everyone, both the
novice and expert OS/2 user, while still giving complete detailed information.
Also, if you're already familiar with some of the topics, you can skip them
and pass on to the next sections.
- A short introduction to Wireless.
- How WiFi works
- The Standards
- WiFi - BlueTooth comparison
- Some Common Terminology
- IEEE 802.11b supported devices.
- Chipsets and drivers
- List of OS/2 CHL tested devices
- What you should think of when choosing a WiFi cards.
- Drivers for setting
up a Wireless Device.
High Rate Wireless PC Card 128
Generic Orinoco driver
Instant Wireless WPC-11 v3
Generic PRISM driver
- CISCO 340
and 350 Series
- PLX PCI
- Intel Centrino
- Setting up a wireless
- What to
keep in mind...
hoc versus Infrastructure modes
- WiFi Status
to specify profiles...
LAN xCenter Widget
- Security restrictions?
What about encryption?
- Why WEP
- Modern Security
- Where does
this leave us with OS/2?
- And what about
1. A short introduction to Wireless.
1.1. How WiFi Works
Wireless networking... Just as with wired networking, you need Network Interface
Cards to communicate between two nodes (computers) in a network. The difference
is that with wireless networking, you don't need wires anymore. However, before
we can discuss the compatibility between OS/2 and wireless network cards, we
should tell you something about how it works.
A wireless network card is in fact an ordinary radio. A radio that has been
modified to serve for computing and communications needs, that is able to transfer
data. If you look well, you'll discover that every wireless network device (both
PCMCIA card, PCI card, and Wireless Access Points) come with an antenna, sometimes
very small and well-hidden (under the black plastic cover of the PCMCIA card).
This antenna is being modulated; and as a result, radio waves are being produced.
Now, an ordinary radio transmits data. The data is just sent in a particular
format, and is then later decoded as sound. In fact the data being sent is just
a digitized form to send data, and the "decoding side" of the system
interprets the data sent via waves in a particular format.
We will now further compare WiFi devices to radios to give an abstract overview
of the basic technologies behind wireless networking.
You've probably already heard the terms AM and FM radio. Terms like VHF and
UHF television, citizens band radio, short wave radio and others may be a little
less familiar, but in fact these terms are all related on the same thing: radio
frequencies. And also wireless networking is related to this subject.
A radio wave is an electromagnetic wave propagated by an antenna, as we already
explained in the section above. Radio waves have different frequencies, and
by tuning a radio receiver to a specific frequency you can pick up a specific
signal, exactly what a wireless network card does; it picks a radio wave out
of the air, a wave that carries data, and it fetches the information "stored"
on that wave. Consider the image at the right. Some
common frequency bands:
- AM radio: 535 KHz - 1.7 MHz;
- FM radio: 88 MHz - 108 MHz;
- Short wave radio: 5.9 MHz - 26.1 MHz;
- Television stations: 54 - 88 MHz;
- GSM (mobile phones): 900, 1800 and 1900MHz.
Megahertz (MHz) means "millions of cycles per second," so "91.5
megahertz" means that the transmitter at the radio station is oscillating
at a frequency of 91500000 cycles per second. Your FM (frequency modulated)
radio can tune in to that specific frequency and give you clear reception of
that station. All FM radio stations transmit in a band of frequencies between
88 megahertz and 108 megahertz. This band of the radio spectrum is used for
no other purpose but FM radio broadcasts.
The funny thing is that **every** wireless technology has its own little band;
even those technologies that are not important at all! For example:
- The examples above (radio, television);
- Garage door openers, alarm systems, et cetera: +- 40 MHz;
- Baby monitors: 49 MHz;
- Radio controlled airplanes: 72 MHz;
- Radio controlled cars: 75 MHz;
- Global Positioning System (GPS): 1,227 and 1,575 MHz....
There is however a very good reason why all of these wireless technologies
use strict government-regulated areas of the radio spectrum: imagine you could
control the airplane that flies above your home when you press the button of
the remote control to open your garage door! I think we needn't explain further?
This event is called interference.
This is why wireless networking has been assigned a specific place in the image
at the right, representing the radio frequency spectrum. It has been assigned
a specific band of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. However, later in this article, we will
remark that some devices use the same frequencies. This could result in interference,
and you'll find more about that in section 5.1.2.
EMI. Also note that the electromagnetic spectrum also includes visible light,
and infrared light in the very high frequency ranges.
1.2. The Standards
Unlike the impression many people have that wireless LANs are a very new technology,
it has already been around for some ten years now. Wireless LANs have been used
for years in several markets such as health care, academia, warehousing and
retail. About two to three years ago, it has been realized that this technology
could be a general-purpose connectivity alternative for a broad range of business.
There are two principal standards for wireless connectivity available today:
BlueTooth, and IEEE 802.11 (pronounce as: "I triple E 802 dot 11")
wireless Ethernet. In the next few sections, I'll briefly try to explain these
standards. For more in-depth information, you can find links to interesting
web pages at the end of this article. Today, people tend to speak about WiFi.
This abbreviation is a term that covers all wireless solutions available today.
BlueTooth is a wireless technology developed by Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, and
Toshiba that specifies how mobile phones, computers and PDA's interconnect with
each other, with computers and with the office or home phones. The technology
enables data connections between electronic devices in the 2.4 GHz range.
BlueTooth is the de facto standard for very low powered and radio connections
that can link your PDA, mobile phones and laptops, and that can enable Internet
access via hot spots. (A hot spot is kind of an antenna for mobile phones; the
only difference is that you can connect via such a hot spot to the Internet
via a fixed network connection. This means a true revolution for mobility!)
The original BlueTooth 1.0 specifications were set in 1999, but the first products
were only available on the market early 2000. BlueTooth was designed for low
power consumption, thus limiting range therefore. It was not created specifically
for wireless LAN technology, but with the right software it can be used as one.
One of the problems with BlueTooth is that it has only a throughput of 800Kbps,
thus it will never replace wireless LAN equipment.
In the long term, BlueTooth is expected to be built in a chip e.g. on the mainboard
of a notepad or a cellular phone. In short terms, it will be added using PC
cards or USB adapters (USB 1.1 doesn't impose performance limits, due to the
limited bandwidth BlueTooth offers).
BlueTooth's native ad hoc network property makes it a very convenient way to
replace those cables at home, for giving printing support at hotel or acting
as an ID card at a shopping centre, but this jeopardizes security. IEEE 802.11
WLAN also supports ad hoc networking, and can be used likewise, but the main
stream of IEEE 802.11 developers is not focused on that subject.
1.2.2. WLAN IEEE 802.11x
Basically, WLAN is an ordinary LAN protocol which is modulated on carrier
waves. Since this article is specifically about compatibility between OS/2 and
wireless devices, I shan't discuss the technical details further. There are
a great deal of good books about that topic, some of them are referred and linked
to at the end of this article. WLAN stands for Wireless Local Area Network.
WLAN IEEE 802.11 is a natural extension to LAN Ethernet, and the modulated protocol
is IEEE 802.3 Ethernet. Actually, there are three IEEE 802.11 standards that
cover FHSS (Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum), DSSS (Direct Sequence Spread
Spectrum), and infrared technologies. At present, there are not any products
available that come with the IR (infrared) technology implemented. In those
three standards, IEEE 802.11b is considered to be the most widespread and accepted.
It is the only using DSSS technology and CCK (Complementary Code Keying) modulation
to achieve it's high data rates. Since the technologies mentioned here (DSSS,
FHSS, et cetera) are self-explanory using a basic knowledge of Physics, I won't
explain them later during this text. Should you want more information, you can
consult the online FAQ,
where these technologies are explained.
Common WLAN products, which are using the IEEE 802.11 standards, are based on
the IEEE 802.11b specs. Now, consider the diagram labeled "A vs B vs G".
This compares IEEE 802.11b, 802.11a (an equivalent European technology under
the name HiperLAN2 also exists; High Performance Radio LAN), and - the newest
- 802.11g. IEEE 802.11b was the first of these three. The next generation of
the standard, IEEE 802.11a, operates in a new brand of frequencies at 5GHz,
and it achieves as high data rates as 54Mbps, in contrast to the maximum of
11Mbps for the b-standard. It uses OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing)
as opposed to spread spectrum used in BlueTooth, IEEE 802.11 and IEEE 802.11b.
This is the reason why IEEE 802.11a and 802.11b cannot co-operate. Note, however
that certain products are available that comply to both the a and b/g standards.
However, at this moment of writing, there is no OS/2 support for that.
The IEEE 802.11a standard is incompatible with both others, since it uses a
different spectrum and frequency. The b- and g-standards can operate together,
though limiting speed to 802.11b, thus 11Mbps (you can see it as a Hi-Speed
USB device you use on USB 1.1 port).
Just as BlueTooth, this wireless solution is planned to be built-in in the future
(the recent Intel Centrino technology is not really a built-in solution: the
wireless feature of the Intel PRO/Wireless 2100b v3 card is implemented as miniPCI,
which is kind of a PCI extension card). The IEEE 802.11x branch is now shipped
as PC cards, and soon the wireless connection will be built in in notebooks.
In fact, the IBM miniPCI Wireless card is a first step in that direction. Also,
CISCO announced to release a wireless mobile phone based on the b-standard rather
Anyway, the first standard was 802.11b. When wireless networking gained popularity,
manufacturers wanted to offer their clients higher speeds, and thus they did
what was most obvious: change the frequency. They almost doubled it, which causes
the waves to be modulated much much more faster, so that more data can be "put"
on the wave(s). However, there is a Physics law that says that when the frequency
f increases, the wave length decreases. This implies the reason why IEEE 802.11a
has a significant smaller range than the b, and g standards, and why both b
and g standards have the same range. Other frequencies also implies the two
technologies are not compatible with each other, so that's why the g standard
was developed later; manufacturer had to give an answer to the ever increasing
demand of a faster but compatible technology with the b standard.
The basis for WLANs should be looked for in 1997, when the IEEE (Institute
of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) released the IEEE 802.11 standard. This
standard would use the parent-free frequency of 2.4GHz. Soon, after the initial
recording, newer versions were added, newer versions of which IEEE 802.11b currently
is the most popular. And yet, in meantime, some protagonists try to compete
with the current standard; newer standards have been introduced, but are less
wide-spread and popular:
||MAC Enhancements for QoS
|Adds the QoS (quality of service) that keeps an eye on the quality of
the connection, so that specific data streams get acquainted with a minimum
bandwidth. These devices will soon be available onto the market. Official
IEEE description: Enhance the current 802.11 MAC (Media Access Control)
to expand support for applications with Quality of Service requirements,
and in the capabilities and efficiency of the protocol.
||Recommended Practice for Inter Access Point Protocol
|The 802.11f standard's final goal is to make WLAN devices of different
manufacturers work better together. Official IEEE description: Develop recommended
practices for an Inter-Access Point Protocol (IAPP), which provides the
necessary capabilities to achieve multi-vendor Access Point Interoperatability
across a Distribution System supporting IEEE P802.11 Wireless LAN Links.
||SMa - Spectrum Managed 802.11a
|Should become the European counterpart of the IEEE 802.11a standard. Only,
h adds some advanced technologies to prevent interference with satellite-communication.
Official IEEE description: Enhance the 802.11 Media Access Control (MAC)
standard and 802.11a High Speed Physical Layer (PHY) in the 5GHz Band supplement
to the standard; to add indoor and outdoor channel selection for 5GHz license
exempt bands in Europe; and to enhance channel energy measurement and reporting
mechanisms to improve spectrum and transmit power management (per CEPT and
subsequent EU committee or body ruling incorporating CEPT Recommendation
||MAC Enhancements for Enhanced Security
|The 802.11i variant promises more powerful and more secure security measures
for encryption and data protection than the current a-, b-, and g-standards
that still lack secure solutions due to the limited WEP technology. Official
IEEE description: Enhance the current 802.11 MAC to provide improvements
As you can see, it's hard to see the woods for the trees with the diverse
range of standards! In fact, it's only last month that the IEEE decided to make
IEEE 802.11g the official one-and-only standard.
1.3. WiFi - BlueTooth comparison.
There are three major aspects that I will discuss here. Surely, others do
exist, but in my point of view, they are irrelevant here.
1.3.1. Bit Rates.
IEEE 802.11x WLAN is clearly faster than BlueTooth. The original IEEE 802.11
network cards can transfer data at rates from 1 to 2Mbps (using for example
PRISM1 chipsets). IEEE 802.11b can deliver speeds @11Mbps. However, you must
keep in mind that this maximum is not always the case. Walls, the air in the
room, dust, magnetic and electric fields can jeopardize the waves of the wireless
device and thus weaken the signal, and causing data transfers at lower speeds.
There are also IEEE 802.11b devices that double the 11Mbps performance, but
these use chipsets that are not supported yet under OS/2. As the previous diagram
illustrated, IEEE 802.11a can give you speeds of 54Mbps, and 802.11g is operating
at this speed too. And what about BlueTooth then? It is suggested that BlueTooth's
throughput is around 720Kpbs. Of course, just as is the case with IEEE 802.11x
standards, air conditions can limit data transfer rates.
Using a Wireless Access Point (see later for more information), the total available
bandwidth of 11 or 54 Mbps is divided among the devices connected to the wireless
Often, the waves of wireless devices are presented in concentric circles around
the antenna (Compare it with dropping a small stone in a lake of water, the
water ripples on then.). That includes that data waves are spread around the
device; hereby, it comes that security must be kept in mind, and this issue
will be discussed later. Range actually is the same thing as the radius of the
far-most circle around the antenna. As was already said, BlueTooth is designed
to use very low transmission power. This implies that the maximum transmission
range will be around 10 meters. Perhaps, if later version of the standard appear,
they may allow longer ranges. High-powered BlueTooth would extend the range
to 100 meters. IEEE 802.11x normally has a transmission range around 15 to 150
meters indoors and 300 meters outdoors. I already pointed you at some factors
that can reduce data transfer speeds, and also, these very same factors can
limit the range too. To give you an idea of the power consumption: BlueTooth
uses 1 mW, compared to 1 W in Americas and 100 mW in Europe for IEEE 802.11x.
One small note here: a Wireless Access Point (more information later on), a
box with one or more antennas has sometimes NOT a range that reaches/covers
some area in the form of a circle, but in an oval. Most WAPs come with two antennas,
that each cover an area in the form of a circle, and you could just accept that
it covers an oval instead of circle as range area.
1.3.3. Security issues.
So I can explain this aspect thoroughly, you should first be familiar with
the OSI model. OSI is short for Open Systems Interconnection Reference Model.
It's a seven-layered theoretical model that summarizes networking protocols,
and helps to facilitate the development of new ones. Now, the first layer, and
immediately the base for the whole, is the physical layer. This layer establishes,
maintains and terminates point-to-point data links. The second layer that lies
on top of the first one, is the data link layer. This layer is used for the
logical link and medium access control. The third layer lies again on top of
its previous layer (as is always the case) and establishes, maintains and terminates
end-to-end network links. That's why it's called the network layer. The fourth
layer is the transport layer; it ensures reliable end-to-end networking. Next,
the session layer establishes, maintains and terminates node-to-node communication
(in other words: it makes computers branched to a network chat to each other).
The presentation layer provides network communication services, e.g. translations,
encryption, and compression. And the upper layer, the application layer provides
user services for applications. Thus, the lower layers are hardware, technically
enabled, the upper ones are all software related.
Now, for BlueTooth, the security setup is done in the software/application layer.
This means that software is required for security.
For IEEE 802.11 networks, they are based on the absence of privacy, since the
access point of data and information is a wire in the office, and the data can't
go out of the wire, unless at either two ends of the wire. IEEE 802.11 standard
includes an optional encryption feature called WEP (Wired Equivalent Policy),
which can be implemented by embedding RSA's RC4 security algorithm in the MAC
(Media Access Controller), thus implemented in an OSI level BELOW the application
layer. The passwords are stored in the access points and on each mobile computer.
It encrypts the transmissions between the access point and the mobile devices.
All the devices are using the same password in a network. Obviously, the encryption
doesn't give much security in public networks, since they would have to publish
the password. WEP uses a 64-bit encryption key, though other bit rates can be
used (e.g. 40, 128, and even 256).
Now, who is the most secure? I'd say BlueTooth, since it has a very limited
range, and thus the waves can't go far from the destination, thus limiting the
possibilities for others to "find the data in the air". Nevertheless,
technically seen, BlueTooth is not secure at all; configuration of the security
software only begins in the upper layer of the OS, which is not good at all.
All in all, IEEE 802.11 standard is better suited for wireless local area
network applications. It is much faster and gives a wider range of use. On the
other hand, BlueTooth's natural ad hoc connectivity makes it fewer configurations,
and gives it good usability in many new applications. Security can't be said
to be better or worse on either of the two technologies. There are advantages
and disadvantages. We could say that they are equal. In fact, BlueTooth is a
great technology to be used in wireless mice et cetera, while the WLAN alternatives
are great solutions for networked connectivity, like hot spots. Nevertheless,
on OS/2, you'll only get IEEE 802.11b going (for now).
1.4. Some Common Terminology
Besides WiFi and BlueTooth there exist still other similar technologies. Some
of them have already been introduced in previous sections, but there still exist
others. This table will briefly introduce them:
||IEEE 802.11b, also known as WiFi and AirPort, 802.11b is a
popular wireless transmission protocol. 802.11b uses radio frequency technology
to communicate through solid objects at a rate of 11Mb/s and a distance
of several hundred feet. It is primarily used for TCP/IP, but can also handle
other forms of networking traffic including file sharing. The operating
distance is much greater, at distances of up to 150 feet vs. Bluetooth's
7-10. Power consumption is much higher for 802.11b than Bluetooth. This
is an issue for low-powered and battery-operated devices.
||HomeRF is a low-cost wireless networking solution, which operates on the
2.4Ghz band over distances of up to 150 feet. HomeRF is designed to occupy
a middle ground between 802.11b and quasi-networking protocols such as Infra-Red
and Bluetooth. HomeRF's power is that it supports voice and audio transmissions
natively. Even though it draws more power than Bluetooth, the operation
speed is only 1.6Mb/s, 2.0 standard at 10Mb/s is not widely adopted.
||Infrared (IR) is the electromagnetic spectrum situated exactly between
radio waves and visible light. It can be used to communicate between two
or more devices equipped with IR ports. Some of IR's advantages are the
extreme low prices, the tremendous bit rates (up to 2 Gbps!). The short
distance and inability to pass through walls, while also disadvantages,
are advantages by decreasing the ability of hackers to access your data,
and therefore increasing security. IR requires a clear line of sight between
devices, versus the larger area available over an entire radius. Current
IR protocols operate at up to 4Mb/s, which is four times the bandwidth
||Ethernet is a local area network (LAN) technology that transmits information
between computers at speeds of 10 and 100 million bits per second. Currently
the most widely used version of Ethernet technology is the 10Mbps twisted-pair
variety. The name Ethernet is derived from the word ether as a means of
indicating the directions in which data can travel. Ethernet is an established,
robust standard that scales well, from two machines to thousands. Because
of its wide-spreading, Ethernet is cheaper than cheap; more to say, the
network cards are almost for free. However, Ethernet requires physical cables
to connect devices, negating any benefits of a wireless solution, and cabling
costs can quickly outweigh any cost savings over a wireless solution.
||Bluetooth is the industry name given to a royalty-free wireless communication
specification for home and office connectivity. Bluetooth uses low-power
transmitters and short-range radio links to replace the cable(s) connecting
portable and/or fixed electronic devices. Bluetooth was developed in 1994
by L. M. Ericsson of Sweden.
The technology was originally envisioned as a cable replacement technology
linking multiple devices wirelessly for synchronization, data transmission
and file transfer. In recent years, applications have developed from linking
cellular phones with computers to connecting microwaves with refrigerators.
BlueTooth is as popular as WiFi IEEE 802.11b.
2. IEEE 802.11b supported devices.
2.1. Chipsets and drivers
At this moment, there is good support for the most important chipsets used
in IEEE 802.11b WLAN products available today. The Orinoco chipset by Lucent/Agere
(in fact just a PRISM chipset with enhanced firmware by Lucent/Agere) is supported
fabulously! There are several specific drivers available for specific products
(e.g. the Artem ComCards, the IBM High Rate PC Card 128, Bintec X-Air, ...)
and there are also modified drivers available that allow you to use (any) card
equipped with that chipset.
There are also two business driver for the CISCO 340 Series of WLAN products,
which will also work with the 350 Series. The oldest driver is available from
IBM under business contracts, or - perhaps - it still remains somewhere on the
Internet. The newer driver is still in beta phase and offers support for both
340 and 350 series PCMCIA devices. These CISCO devices use the AiroNet chipset,
which is also a spin-off of the PRISM chipset (with CISCO-specific firmware).
The older device driver works only with these devices, and not with other similar
devices from other brands that use the same chipset :( The new CISCO driver
for the 340-350 series supports the specification of manufacturer and device
IDs, so it's kind of a generic device driver for the AiroNet chipset.
And then, there's the PRISM series of chipsets. Although the Orinoco and CISCO
chipsets offer weigh better performance than the PRISM chipsets due to improved
firmware, these chips are used in a lot of products due to their low price.
There is a specific driver for the IBM miniPCI Wireless adapter, and a spin-off
of this driver enables you to use (any) PRISM2, PRISM2.5 and PRISM3 card! Of
course, we must be careful to say "any"!
There are some remarks, though. Devices that use a mixture of chipsets won't
work correctly. When using the Generic PRISMx beta driver, you must make sure
your device has a PRISM chipset from the Intersil brand, thus being equipped
with Intersil firmware, that is required for the drivers to work correctly.
Most DLink products use an Intersil PRISM chip, but use TI firmware, thus causing
instabilities when using the device, and lockups during large file transfers.
However, with the Release Candidate of the Generic PRISM device driver, you
can also use PRISM chips with Lucent/Agere firmware (= Orinoco chips). For some
WLAN cards, you'll need two hexadecimal numbers: the manufacturer ID and the
device ID. These IDs are used by the driver during initialization of the driver;
it searches for the device by polling these two numbers (only the beta generic
drivers require these IDs). For Orinoco chip, these are respectively 0x0156
and 0x0002 most of the time (though other variants can occur). With PRISM chipsets,
these numbers can vary greatly. Thus, for simplicity, there are made especially
adapted device drivers for the NetGear MA-401, and the Linksys Instant Wireless
Adapter WPC-11 V3. I'll give more information about these IDs later in this
There are also interesting PCI adapters available, like the NetGear MA-301,
who allow to serve as a PCMCIA slot in your desktop computer or server. Notice
that these boards do NOT include the wireless device itself! This must be purchased
separately. If these boards are using a PLX 9052 chipset, they too should work,
since another driver is available for them. In some cases PCI wireless cards
will also work, using the specific PLX driver, plus the driver for the chipset.
Unfortunately, this rarely happens :(
Other chipsets like TI solutions, Atmel, or ISA to PCMCIA board using the Omega
chipset are not supported at the moment. However, development of an Atmel driver
is planned for the future.
One last thing: most of these drivers mentioned here are not available to the
public yet. The Artem OS/2 driver has been available for some two years now.
This driver only works on Artem hardware, and on hardware sold by some daughter
companies (BinTec, SteinKeuhler). Also, IBM has published its miniPCI driver
and High Rate 128 PC Card driver on Device Driver Pak website, but all the others
are still in development or IBM internal beta testing and/or only available
via IBM business contracts. The Generic PRISMx device driver should be published
via SoftWare Choice really soon.
There is one dangerous remark however: IEEE 802.11b has maximum transfer rates
of 11Mbps. Now, some companies like DLink claim that their b-standard cards
can get to 22Mbps. 22Mbps is the so-called IEEE 802.11b Enhanced standard. These
devices won't work on OS/2, since they use an additional chip (the TI ACX-100)
to "over clock", as a matter of speaking. Meanwhile, TI has also launched
a new chipset for the IEEE 802.11g standard that increases the speeds up to
100Mbps, which - of course - won't work neither. And then, of course, there
are also plenty of wireless access points, like the LinkSys WAP11 v2.2 which
can be attached to a computer, work as DHCP-servers, and who offer built-in
web based configuration pages.
PRISM1 (ltd functionality)
| Intersil PRISM2.5
| Intersil PRISM3
| AiroNet 340
| AiroNet 350
| Lucent/Agere ORiNOCO (WaveLAN)
| PLX9052 PCI**
*: Development for driver is planned.
**: Not a real WiFi chipset; chipset used for special PCI-to-PCMCIA bridges.
2.2. List of OS/2 CHL tested devices
For maintenance reasons, we decided to host this information on a different
page. Please visit http://www.os2warp.be/index2.php?name=wifidevs
for the most up-to-date listing of approved OS/2 tested WiFi hardware devices.
You can also get technical hardware support there.
3. What you should think of when choosing a WiFi
For use with OS/2, pick out PC Card NICs according to the IEEE 802.11b standard.
For a wireless access point (WAP) go for a web-based configuration utility and
a router that is according to the IEEE 802.11g standard, since the g-standard
is backwards compatible with the b one, and since it offers considerable greater
bandwidth that is shared amongst the devices in the WLAN than a traditional
11Mbps Wireless Access Point. If you know the details about the chipset, choose
the AiroNet (CISCO) or the Orinoco (Lucent, Agere) chipsets, which are great
enhancements over the Prism2/2.5 chips, or PRISM3.
Generally, the greater the range, the better? But caution is required here:
the higher the transfer rates at far distances, the better the quality of the
card is. Normally, you should be able to get 350 m with a data transfer rate
Actually, the requirements do vary for each person. If you are an exigent user
like me, someone who is prepared to spend a lot on hardware so to get the best,
some hardware freak, then you best pick out CISCO or LinkSys. CISCO is the most
expensive, but combines flexibility of use, professionalism, great range, and
128-bit WEP. Drivers are available from IBM under business contracts. LinkSys
has even greater range, but less good performance (though also extremely well).
LinkSys also is a lot cheaper then CISCO.
If you want real support for OS/2 and eCS, so if you want to play safe, pick
Artem. Good price/quality ratio, and fabulous OS/2 support. They also have a
great free driver which they are supporting for out-of-the-box for OS/2(!).
If you want a good home connectivity for low price, with good support (no OS/2
support though, but internal device details), pick out NetGear. If you're a
network administrator, pick out CISCO, or choose the cards with WEP encryption
at the highest bit stream. Also buy a book about wireless networking security
issues, or spend some days studying CISCO's white papers related to the issue.
Before investing in WiFi, you should be well-informed about the security issues,
so I really recommend you read the paragraphs about this subject later on in
For an access point (AP), you must make sure it has a web-based configuration
interface. No software at all! Please remember this, since everything must be
configurable from within your web browser. For these devices, you can opt for
IEEE 802.11g, since it is backwards compatible with IEEE 802.11b. This won't
increase the speed between g and b but the regular 11Mbps. Please note that
this article attaches more importance to PC Card WiFi devices than APs (Access
Points; most APs come with good documentation, and needn't have drivers installed,
thus every working of an AP is vendor dependent). You can buy IEEE 802.11b enhanced
WAPs to connect OS/2 IEEE 802.11b PC Cards to, together with enhanced cards
running on Linux, or Windows.
Please read on in the next
part of this review.