Tag Archives: Ralink

Using WPA on OpenBSD (2008)

The missing WPA support was something many users where missing on OpenBSD. I now tell some practical steps on how to connect to a WPA encrypted wireless network with OpenBSD. Again – and as often OpenBSD makes it simpler than other OSes. Firstly – during install OpenBSD gives the opportunity to configure networks. I had my Thinkpad R52 not connected to any network while installing. As the internal Intel chip did never work with WPA on my Ubuntu I had a Ralink card inserted. OpenBSD also had some problems, claiming it can not find the firmware. I have not even looked what this means – because I first wanted internet and the Ralink looked much more promising. So Ralink … this is the ral driver. The manual can be found on OpenBSD with ‘man ral’ – on the web: RAL(4). The essential example is here:

Configure ral0 to join network “my_net” using WPA-PSK with passphrase
# ifconfig ral0 nwid my_net wpa wpapsk \
$(wpa-psk my_net my_passphrase)

Anyway. I am not here to copy the manual. What they write there is not wrong – but does not give you any network on a new boot. So the first ral card is called “ral0”. The setup did create a file: “/etc/hostname.ral0”. Here is how its contents looked: “dhcp NONE NONE NONE” – Where do you find more? In hostname.if(5). There you will get the information that you can add “options” behind the dhcp. Those options are the same as the command ifconfig gives.

Back to the example above, what does this do? “$(wpa-psk my_net my_passphrase)” executes the command “wpa-psk” – with the options: 1. SSID and 2. the passphrase. It is able to generate a wpa pre-shared key. You can generate one and COPY that. You can then paste that into the ral0 config file. So a like could look like this:

dhcp nwid <your-network> wpa wpapsk <your-key>

Thats about all you need. And now how you connect to your Router? Nothing simpler. Read about netstart(8). This is actually a non-executable script. You can start your ral0 with “sh /etc/netstart ral0”. And this should be sufficient to get it on every time you boot. A successful connected wpa wireless then will look like this:

$ ifconfig ral0

lladdr 00:80:5a:39:f5:e1
groups: wlan egress
media: IEEE802.11 autoselect (OFDM54 mode 11g)
status: active
ieee80211: nwid <your network> chan 9 bssid 00:1c:10:c1:ab:40 120dB wpapsk <not displayed> wpaprotos wpa1,wpa2 wpaakms psk,802.1x wpaciphers tkip,ccmp wpagroupcipher tkip 100dBm
inet6 fe80::280:5aff:fe39:f5e1%ral0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x5
inet netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast

Was that complicated? I would say no. The only think I have not tried is how to best set up multiple networks. Something that works more or less on Linux with the NetworkManager. But it does not work good on my Ubuntu box. I really think that OpenBSD has shown how elegant one can do things. This is now without multiple commands – essentially it is just ifconfig. And why shouldn’t ifconfig be able to do more. Why should we need to have iwconfig, iwpriv,… ?

Linux has tried hard to make some things usable – but on the way to accomplish that Linux developers often throw away old tools and constantly reinvent the wheel. Still maybe it is simple to quickly install an Ubuntu box – but for those who know about Unix and can handle the tools you need to remember less and can do some things MUCH easier. OpenBSD has taken its time to get WPA support – much later than Linux. But now its working. Hope this posting helps some posters to get it done.

As this is an important task I state explicitly that the whole text that I wrote is public domain, so you can reuse it wherever you like.


Filed under Browser, Free Software, OpenBSD, Technology

Report on Wireless status on Ubuntu 8.10 beta

Not much sense to read the rest as I could solve the problem by adding my internal card to the wireless MAC filter of my router. stupid me!


Ubuntu Wireless Problem solved. Brain refreshed

This is what bothers me on the new Ubuntu 8.10 beta on my Thinkpad R52:

  1. Now with a Ralink card (RT61) also this connection is resetted all the time. On reconnection every time the card that never worked with WPA (Intel 2200 BG) is used. The bug has expired (I set it to ‘new’ again) and it was always just commented to update the driver. So nobody at Canonical seems to care if Intel 2200 BG works or not?
  2. Related is the fact that I mentioned above that Network Manager never remebers which card and connection works. So if there is a internal card which cant connect he will ALWAYS use this, even if that has never worked. I reported this months ago and nobody cared., too. What the people working on wireless network do not seem to realize is that not every hardware works with every access point. So remembering what works and what not is so essential! Actually I alwys thoght that was what NM was all about. But it seems they only remember the password/key which has worked  and not how it worked. I guess this is trivial feature to add so again I dont understand why this has not been changed. Or why a card that never worked is even displayed and takes 80% of all entries, while the working card always switches its position (upper or lower end of the other card) – I would guess it would be important to display the most used and working connections at the top – also depending on the location. Come on guys, NM is not that new any more. So please fix those minor issues – I dont see any sense in listing 30 wireless networks in my range that I never use and will never use. What exactly am i supposed to do with them? This is only a distraction.

So my situation now is that not only the internal card is still not working but now the external PCMCIA card is resetted every five minutes or so. Which makes Ubuntu quite unusable for me – and its already Beta time. I had thought ipw2200 drivers would become really much better with newer kernel > 2.6.26, but 2.6.27 I still have the same bugs. So everybody having same type of hardware should stay back from Ubuntu till I can report that things are working.

Here is an example log. As you see wlan0 (rt61) comes up and then eth2 (ipw2200) interferes:

Oct 7 14:44:02 cine avahi-daemon[4897]: Registering new address record for on wlan0.IPv4.
Oct 7 14:44:02 cine dhclient: bound to — renewal in 32910 seconds.
Oct 7 14:44:03 cine NetworkManager: (wlan0): device state change: 7 -> 8
Oct 7 14:44:03 cine NetworkManager: (wlan0): writing resolv.conf to /sbin/resolvconf
Oct 7 14:44:03 cine NetworkManager: Policy set (wlan0) as default device for routing and DNS.
Oct 7 14:44:03 cine NetworkManager: Activation (wlan0) successful, device activated.
Oct 7 14:44:03 cine NetworkManager: Activation (wlan0) Stage 5 of 5 (IP Configure Commit) complete.
Oct 7 14:44:03 cine ntpdate[8639]: adjust time server offset 0.000279 sec
Oct 7 14:44:07 cine NetworkManager: (eth2): supplicant connection state change: 0 -> 3
Oct 7 14:44:07 cine NetworkManager: (eth2): supplicant connection state change: 3 -> 0
Oct 7 14:44:09 cine NetworkManager: eth2: link timed out.
Oct 7 14:44:12 cine NetworkManager: (eth2): supplicant connection state change: 0 -> 3
Oct 7 14:44:12 cine NetworkManager: (eth2): supplicant connection state change: 3 -> 0

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Filed under Free Software, Linux, Technology