Linux Wireless Driver Installations and Upgrades
Note: This information pertains to linux wifi drivers in the old kernels of the 2.6
Kernels 5.x have wifi drivers included with broad support..
One of the most challenging things about the Linux operating system is achieving stable and efficient operation of hardware devices. Wireless networking hardware tops the list of things computer users need the most and have the hardest time using, mostly due to the fact that the manufacturers are snail-slow in offering open source drivers. Only recently, in the more advanced Linux kernels, has the wireless support really started to expand. A very positive aspect of having open-source drivers and an active developer community is the evolution of specific wireless drivers over time. Often, the current drivers can do things earlier drivers couldn\'t, and overall performance is better optimized.
Atheros is a provider of wireless hardware with Linux drivers on the bleeding edge of Linux wireless networking. There is plenty of support for the Atheros wi-fi chipset - driver combinations, and they work quite well. In particular, the MadWifi Project has done a fantastic job of creating atheros wireless drivers far exceeding original versions.
Ralink has also been a company that stands apart in offering wireless networking hardware that works well along with great linux wireless drivers. Sourcce code is periodically updated and developers have tweaked the Ralink wireless drivers so that they outperform original versions.
Installing Linux wireless drivers generally involve the following steps:
- Downloading driver source code.
- If necessary (for special features or performance), editing or patching source code.
- Compilation, using the "make" command.
- Installation, using the "make install" command.
- Loading the wireless driver module.
In some cases, the user may need to use a short script to load the driver module at startup, and unload it at shutdown. Often, a "modprobe" command added to the "rc.local" script is all that is necessary.