Networking remains a mystery for many home users, but in fact, simple networks can be set-up by just about anyone, with fairly minimal knowledge. Graphical User Interfaces (GUI's) have made a once command line speciality, a realistic option for everyone. In Windows®, you get a wizard and in PCLinuxOS, much the same. Wireless is becoming the de facto standard for home use, due to it's lack of cables and ease of placement. This page will attempt to answer some of the common misconceptions and give an insight into setting up a wireless connection in PCLinuxOS.
It is more likely to be required if you add a wireless card after installing PCLinuxOS, as the original set-up when using the system from the CD, will have already configured your network connection provided you supplied the correct information.
What is networking?
In it's most basic form, it's a method of shifting data from one computer to another. This may be simply two computers in your home, or many millions of machines via the World Wide Web.
Various protocols (the code that makes the data transfer possible) have been tried and used, but almost universally now, TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is the one you will use and see everywhere.
Breaking it down
Once wireless comes into the equation, there seems to be many misconceptions that come into play.
The network works exactly the same as its wired equivalent. The only difference is, you are replacing a cable with a wireless signal (transmission). That's it: honest!!
Encryption can be used on both wired and wireless networks, but has become more prevalent on wireless, as it is possible for anyone within range, to listen in on the data you are transmitting and receiving. Clearly if you are accessing an Internet bank for example, you would not want the local crime syndicate to have access to sensitive data. Hence encryption is a very important element of your overall network philosophy and security.
Setting up a wireless network in PCLinuxOS
The way to access any sort of network configuration is to open the Administration Centre. This is the icon at the bottom of your screen with a screwdriver and spanner on it. Click on the icon and you will see a pop-up window that asks for your root password. Complete that and click OK.
That action will lead you to this screen:
Click on Network & Internet: to arrive here:
The first option Set up a new network interface will take you to a screen you may have been familiar with during your first CD launch of PCLinuxOS:
As this wiki page is primarily concerned with wireless, select Wireless and click Next to arrive here:
As you can see, PCLinuxOS has recognised my Atheros chip and so I have selected that to continue. Note: it is at this point you can try and use a Windowss driver via ndiswrapper. If you're lucky you may also find a pre-compiled ndiswrapper driver via the Synaptic Package Manager. But back to our recognized chip and click Next
Now you can see any networks already seen via your wireless device. If your router is configured to hide the SSID (Service Set IDentifier - this is the name you have given to your wireless network, not necessarily your Windows network), it will not appear here and you will have to use the Unlisted - edit manually option as I have done here and then click Next:
In this page, you set up the main configuration of your device. The Operating Mode; Managed, Roaming etc. The Network name (ESSID) is where you enter your network SSID. Next the Encryption mode; WEP, WAP or whatever you are using and finally your Encryption key; - self explanatory.
A word about encryption at this point. My recommendation with all new networks is NOT to use encryption at this point. Encryption and Firewalls are by far the most regular reasons a network fails to connect. Leave these alone at present, make sure the network works and then introduce them one at a time, testing after each phase. This can be easily achieved via the Administration Centre >> Network & Internet >> Reconfigure a network interface.
Anyway, whatever you choose to do, click Next to arrive here:
Here you have the options for Automatic or Manual configuration. Automatic normally will suffice; click Next
This page is concerned with the Domain Name System (DNS) - the service that converts human readable web site addresses into IP addresses so the data mentioned earlier can be sent to the correct place. Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a system that allocates IP addresses dynamically in order that an address may be reused. This is why Internet Service Providers (ISP's) often charge extra for a fixed address. The preselected options will work just fine for all but the largest networks operated by large organisations. Click Next
Now we look at how the New Connection service will start. I've chosen to have it Start at boot and Allow access point roaming. You should choose as you wish.Then Click Next
Do you want to start the connection now? Yes, Yes, YES!! Click Next
This final screen may be slightly different to the one you're likely to see. This is due to the fact that, in order to write this I had to take the screen shots off a live machine. In other words, I was reconfiguring a known good connection to a duff (experimental) one. So the system decided I was reconfiguring the system. But essentially, you will get a '''Finish''' button to click and hopefully, your wireless access will be live.
I hope this clears up a few points and may help some of you.