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Setting Up Wireless Network on Red Hat 8

The blue screen of death and "General Protection Fault" dialog in Windows 98 has finally fed me up. I took the plunge and installed Red Hat 8 Linux on my favorite Sony VAIO PCG-505TS SuperSlim notebook computer. The installation process was straight-forward, but just creating a Red Hat 8 installation boot disk and getting the installation booted on the SuperSlim notebook was a daunting task. But that's story for another day. In this story, I want to show you a neat hack, one that will help Red Hat 8 recognize your PCMCIA 802.11b WiFi adapter so that you can get on the network, which was no easy task until I figured out with a little help from the Internet.

Step 1: Check Your Wireless Hardware

The very first step to setting up wireless networking on Red Hat 8 is to see if your Red Hat installation recognizes the wireless network card. Plug your PCMCIA wireless card into your notebook and boot up Linux. After logging into your user account, click on "Network" under the "System Settings" menu. Your action would bring up the "Network Configuration" dialog. Click on the "Hardware" tab.

If your Red Hat installation recognizes your wireless network adapter, it would show up in the box. You are also very lucky if it recognizes your hardware, so skip to step 3. But if Red Hat doesn't recognize your hardware, then you'll have an empty box like what I got (see screen shot below). All is not lost, perform Step 2 and you will have a chance to get it to work.

Attached Image:

no hardware.png

Chieh Cheng
Tue, 10 Jan 2006 14:01:23 -0800

Step 2: Hack the PCMCIA Configuration Database

I have two wireless network cards that I use with this notebook:

  • D-Link Air DWL-650 2.4GHz Wireless Cardbus Adapter
  • Proxim RangeLAN-DS 802.11b Wireless LAN PC Card

Neither adapters showed up in the "Hardware Configuraton" dialog box. So I spent quite a bit of time on the Internet, looking for ways I can get either of these two cards to work. I don't mind downloading and installing drivers, but I would prefer it if I can get Red Hat Linux to work with either card natively. You see, the Sony VAIO SuperSlim notebook has no built-in CD-ROM drive. It's PCGA-CD51/A external CD-ROM drive uses a PCMCIA card that would fight with the wireless card for the only PCMCIA slot on the notebook. And I don't have a floppy drive on any other computer, where I can download the driver.

After searching for a while, I found a web page called "Proxim Harmony 802.11b [AKA RangeLAN-DS] [MODEL: 8430]". I learned several tricks from that web page:

  • Red Hat distribution is very similar to Slackware distribution;
  • cardctl in the /sbin directory can help you identify a PCMCIA card;
  • PCMCIA card identification configuration is located in /etc/pcmcia/config

Armed with these knowledge, I was ready to hack the PCMCIA card identification configuration so that Red Hat would recognize my RangeLAN-DS card. First, I su to root so that I can execute "cardctl ident" in the sbin directory. I wanted see what the RangeLAN-DS identify itself as . . .

Socket 0:
product info: "PROXIM", "RangeLAN-DS/LAN PC CARD", ""
manfid: 0x0126, 0x8000
function: 6 (network)

Armed with these information, I added the following lines to /etc/pcmcia/config:

card "Proxim RangeLAN-DS/LAN PC Card"
manfid 0x0126, 0x8000
bind "orinoco_cs"

The above lines tell Red Hat to associate the RangeLAN-DS card with the Lucent Orinoco and Prism II-based PCMCIA Wireless card. You see, the RangeLAN-DS card, like many wireless cards, is using the Prism II chip set. So it works just fine with the Prism II driver.

After changing the configuration file, reboot the computer. Open up the "Network Configuration" dialog box again to see if Red Hat recognizes the card. In my case, Red Hat successfully recognized the RangeLAN-DS wireless adapter and associated it to the Prism II-based driver (see picture below).

Attached Image:

found hardware.png

Chieh Cheng
Tue, 10 Jan 2006 14:02:17 -0800

Where is Step 3 here?

I need to setup my wireless card thanks.

I just seem not to find Step 3 in this page.

Please point me to the right place.


Sat, 11 Nov 2006 22:09:26 -0800

Haha, I guess I forgot to post Step 3 . . . I believe step 3 is for you to configure the network connection for your LAN. For now, take a look at the "Setting Up Wireless Network on Ubuntu 5.1" article in the TrackBack below.

Chieh Cheng
Sat, 11 Nov 2006 23:53:23 -0800

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Title: Setting Up Wireless Network on Ubuntu 5.1
Weblog: GearHack
Tracked: Sat, 11 Nov 2006 23:51:13 -0800

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