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May 3, 2004

"Linux Unwired": A Complete Guide to Going Wireless with Linux

Sebastopol, CA--If you purchase a Windows or Mac OS laptop these days, it's likely that it will come with a wireless card. There's little more you need to do than turn it on to enjoy wireless access. For Linux users, however, out-of-the-box wireless is neither commonly available nor desirable. And it's not because Linux users necessarily choose to do things in a more complicated manner than everyone else; rather, the beauty of Linux is that it offers so much ground for customization and flexibility. Configuring wireless access for Linux can be a little more challenging than for other operating systems, but it offers unbridled possibilities in terms of power and freedom. Those who want to take full advantage of Linux's wireless capabilities will find a complete resource to wireless configuration in Linux Unwired (O'Reilly, US $24.95) by Roger Weeks, Edd Dumbill, and Brian Jepson.

Linux Unwired provides a detailed introduction to all the wireless technologies supported by Linux and shows how to get all of them--including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular, GPS, and infrared--working nicely and working together. Linux users will learn how to install and configure a variety of wireless technologies to fit different scenarios, including an office or home network and for use on the road.

"With the continued focus towards Linux on the desktop, [Linux Unwired] really addresses a key issue, namely, how to make the various wireless technologies work with a Linux installation, particularly on a notebook PC," explains Weeks. "The book also showcases how flexible a Linux wireless notebook can be--much more capable than a Windows notebook, for instance."

"Linux is getting better all the time," adds Jepson, "and the ways that it can be combined with wireless are growing all the time. Plus, there are exciting developments that combine the power of Linux as a platform and wireless, such as BlueFOAF--an application that scans your list of friends from your FOAF (friend of a friend) file and allows you to associate them with nearby discoverable Bluetooth devices (http://usefulinc.com/edd/blog/2004/2/1)."

Bluetooth is especially handy for people on the move, notes Dumbill, as there's no need to carry along a bag of assorted connectors. "You're always likely to forget the most important one!" he says. "The Bluetooth chapter in the book covers how to do everything from hooking up to the cell phone, to networking and printing via Bluetooth. Aside from the power and video cable, it's possible to completely remove cabling from your office!"

Other topics in Linux Unwired include:

  • Connecting to wireless hotspots
  • Cellular data plans you can use with Linux
  • Wireless security, including WPA and 802.1x
  • Finding and mapping Wi-Fi networks with Kismet and gpsd
  • Connecting Linux to your Palm or Pocket PC
  • Sending text messages and faxes from Linux through your cellular phone
  • With years of community involvement to go along with their combined experience in wireless networks and system administration, authors Weeks, Jepson, and Dumbill not only know how to go wireless, but why hackers should do it in the first place. Linux Unwired shares this experience with any Linux user who is ready go unwired, too. From understanding the technology to putting it into practice, this book covers it all.

    Additional Resources:

    Linux Unwired
    Roger Weeks, Edd Dumbill, and Brian Jepson
    ISBN 0-596-00583-0, 297 pages, $24.95 US, $36.95 CA
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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