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Linux Wireless at U of T

Written on April 28, 2005

U of T is moving towards ubiquitous wireless access on the downtown campus. That means you want access, but the University doesn’t want iSquatters™. To that end they are using WEP and MAC address authentication. I want access via Linux, but the myopic twits are afraid to support anything for fear that it won’t work. Better to inconvenience everyone rather than risk having one unhappy student with a screwball setup. So, in the interest of promoting wireless access at U of T, I wrote up these instructions for accessing the Campus Wireless Network under Linux.

1. Make sure your wireless card is supported in your running kernel.
Contrary to the documentation provided by the Campus Wireless network,
any card supported by Linux and capable of WEP and 802.11b will work.

If your kernel does not support your wireless card, but it is supported
under Linux, you will need to recompile your kernel. This is beyond the
scope of these instructions, so get on the Internet and get some advice.

2. Note the output of iwconfig. It may look something like this:

lo        no wireless extensions.

eth0      IEEE 802.11-DS  ESSID:"UTORwin"  Nickname:"Prism  I"
          Mode:Managed  Frequency:2.412 GHz  Access Point: 00:01:F4:6B:0E:CC
          Bit Rate:11 Mb/s   Tx-Power=15 dBm   Sensitivity:1/3
          Retry min limit:8   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
          Power Management:off
          Link Quality=46/92  Signal level=-78 dBm  Noise level=-149 dBm
          Rx invalid nwid:0  Rx invalid crypt:15  Rx invalid frag:2
          Tx excessive retries:2  Invalid misc:0   Missed beacon:0

The key fields are ESSID, Access Point, and Link Quality and the name of
the interface (eth0, eth1, etc.). If the Access Point field is
44:44:44:44:44:44 and the Link Quality is reasonably high, then you have
not been authenticated by the Access Point.

3. As root, log onto an access point with the following command:
iwconfig eth0 essid UTORwin enc s:UToronto1home
The only difference will be the interface name. You may wish to alias
this command to something convenient, or set it as the default for the

4. Log onto a web browser, and any page you receive will redirect you
to the Campus Wireless Network, where you will have to register the
MAC address of your wireless card and then authenticate yourself based
on your UTORID.

Getting a UTORID I leave as an exersize for the reader.

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