SUSE and MadWifi

Q Can you tell me which version of the MadWifi drivers works best with SUSE Linux? Also, is there a free application that will report a numerical value for the frequency at which I'm exchanging bits with my router? By frequency, I mean the number of cycles per second (in the 2.4GHz band), not data transfer rate in kilobytes per second.

A As a general point, it's usually best to use software from your distro's repositories whenever possible. This software has been tested to work with that distro, both by the developers before release and the users after. Any problems that do show up can be reported and dealt with through the distro's bugtracking system, usually very promptly. OpenSUSE 11.0 has a prerelease version of MadWifi 0.9.4 in its repositories, so you should try this first. If this gives you problems, you could try compiling 0.9.4 from source (full details are on the MadWifi website at http://madwifi.org. The main reason for doing this has nothing to do with the distro you're using, it's only necessary if there's been a change relating to the hardware that you use.

There's not much development on the MadWifi driver now, because most of the team's effort is directed at the new Ath5k driver that's included with recent kernels. As this improves and gains support and performance for more cards, the need for a separate driver package will reduce and eventually disappear. This is the way things generally work with Linux; once an open source driver proves itself, it's usually incorporated into the kernel. Many computers work perfectly now with no external drivers at all and the proportion will increase as the kernel is able to handle more hardware directly. You already have software that will report the frequency used by your card and router and any others in range. The wireless-tools package, which you should have already installed on your machine, does this and a lot more. Any of these commands will give the information you want, in a different context in each case.

iwconfig ath0
iwlist ath0 scan
iwlist ath0 frequency

The first gives details about the connection between your computer and the access point; the second gives a list of all visible wireless access points; while the last command shows the frequencies available on your card, and the one in use now. These are administrator commands, so you need to run su in a terminal to become root before running any of these commands.

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