| Setting Up Your Home Wireless Network -
Home wireless networks have become much more popular and affordable
with the advent of affordable consumer hardware. Before you can begin
using a wireless network, you will first need to configure the network
itself, and then setup each computer that will use the network. This
article is not a comprehensive set of detailed instructions but is
meant to give you some direction for getting started. We will assume
you have a "mixed" environment with both Linux and Windows computers.
Step One: Setup the wireless
See our article Connect
To The Internet for instructions and diagrams illustrating
how to configure your home wireless network's components. See
the article Home
Networking Basics for considerations in configuring your
wireless network. You can also listen to our discussion in podcast Episode 50 and Episode 53.
Step Two: Setup the computer
you have configured the network, with a wired network, you simply plug
the network cable from your router into your computer's Ethernet jack.
With a wireless network, you will need to ensure that each computer has
a wireless network card and that it is configured correctly for your
network. Follow these steps for each computer:
1. Install the wireless network card.
you are setting up a notebook computer with built-in wireless, the
wireless card is pre-installed and was pre-configured with
operating system that came with your computer.
- If you are
setting up a notebook computer that did not come with
built-in wireless, and you have an empty PC Card or Express
slot, simply insert the appropriate wireless card into the slot and
configure the card. Configuration instructions for Windows and Mac are
likely provided in the manufacturer's "user manual" or "quick start
guide". If you use a Linux operating system, the card will likely be
detected and configured automatically. If not, you will need to install
a driver for your wireless card. Follow the instructions provided by
your Linux distribution. Check your Linux distribution's community
support forums if you need additional help.
- If your notebook or home PC does not have built-in
wireless, and you are using a USB adapter, simply
insert the adapter's cable into a free USB port. Your operating system
will likely detect and configure the device automatically.
you are using a PCI adapter to add wireless capability to your
non-wireless home PC, you'll have to turn off the computer, open the
case, insert the adapter into a free PCI slot, and restart the
Windows and Linux will detect the card and either configure it
automatically, or prompt you to install a driver. Windows users should
install the driver provided with the card.Linux users should follow
driver installation instructions provided by your Linux distribution.
Linux distribution's community support forums if you need additional
Following the installation of your wireless network hardware, you may
need to install the networking software. Most Linux computers already
have the necessary network management software (NetworkManager, K
Network Manager, Wicd, etc.) installed with the operating system.
Windows users will usually need to install the wireless networking
software provided with the wireless adapter. Windows users might be
asked for the computer's name and whether the current computer is meant
to be the server or client for Internet access.
3. Linux users will likely not
need to restart, even if drivers are installed. Windows users
to restart their computer after installing almost any new software.
- Your computer is a "client" not a "server".
computer name can be found by right-clicking the My Compter icon on
your Windows desktop and selecting Properties from the menu, then the
Network Identification tab.
4. The Linux network manager will usuall detect your network's settings
automatically. You can skip to step six.
If your network management software is not automatically setup, or you
are using Windows, you will need some additional setup.
6. Enter the
encryption key or passphrase you chose when you setup your wireless
router or access point. For an explanation of wireless network
encryption, see our article Home Networking Basic.
- Enter the network (domain or workgroup) name. If your
service provider does not require your network to be given a specific
workgroup name, and you are setting up a laptop for use at home and at
work, use the same network name as your company's Windows domain. This
will make moving between home and office much easier.
- For a home wireless network using an access point or
set the mode to "infrastructure". Set it to "ad hoc" (it may be labeled
peer-to-peer) if you're not using an access point or wireless router.
you're using an ad hoc network, set the channel (a number from 1 to
11). All adapters on a network must use the same channel. (With an
infrastructure network, the client automatically configures itself to
the channel with the strongest signal.)
users should enter their wireless encryption key or passphrase as the
final step in configuring the networking software.
users will simply right-click the network icon in the notification area
of the panel or task bar. Select your wireless network from
list, and enter the encryption key or passphrase when