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July, 2000: Wireless Networking--
Or How to Spend the Rest of Your Summer Vacation

Wireless networks are rapidly gaining popularity, replacing the need for traditional wired networks in some cases, and extending the reach of Internet services into areas where telephone and cable infrastructure is not cost-effective. The advent of the IEEE 802.11 standard has brought about a range of interoperating 11 Mbps network devices including integrated base stations and PC cards for both PCMCIA-enabled laptop and PCI-based desktop computers. Made popular by Apple's low-cost AirPort base station, home-based wireless LANs are making home networking more simple than ever. At USENIX Association conferences, participants are connected to each other and to the Internet through wireless access points. And within a five-mile geographic radius, wireless WANs can make high-speed connectivity between company locations, and even within neighborhoods cost-competitive with traditional telco or cable-based solutions.

With various FRUUG members working with wireless networking technologies, we thought it would be fun to have a meeting on how easy it is to bring up a wireless network at home or at the office. And fun it was-- with each of our speakers thinking they only had 10 or 15 minutes of things to say, we had to ajourn after two hours only because the room was booked at 6:00.

  • Steve Gaede of Lone Eagle Systems Inc. took the audience on a quick tour of the the Web sites that made him curious enough to bring up his own wireless network, including:

    • Apple's AirPort Page:,
      which seems to deny that you could do anything with an AirPort base station but configure a wireless network with your brand-new AirPort-ready Macintosh computer

    • Ali Bahrami's page:,
      which talks about how easy it was to "upgrade" the AirPort base station with 128-bit encryption and get it to interoperate with Microsoft Windows NT and Linux-- and has links to most of the sites mentioned here.

    • More on upgrading to the Wavelan Gold card including pictures:

    • More ways to void your AirPort base station warranty at:,
      this time by drilling a hole in its case and running a wire to an external indoor range-extender antenna

    • Details on the external antennae that are available:,
      including those which can focus the signal to get up to 5-8 miles of range, a topic addressed in Barb's talk.

    • And finally, how to configure the AirPort base station from a Windows system... reports later in the meeting that a Java configurator is available:

  • John Lilley of Acme Software, Inc.
    gave us a book report on all of his reading on the Radio Frequency (RF) technology behind wireless networks. He has made his talk available on-line (39K PDF)

  • Barb Dijker of Netrack Netrack discussed wireless Wide-Area networks, and has made her slides available on-line as well (HTML)

  • Lynda McGinley and Dirk Grunwald from the University of Colorado discussed setting up wireless networks at USENIX conferences, and gave us a show-and-tell of various access points (base stations) and wireless cards. One of the challenges "wiring" the engineering building at CU is that the thick concrete walls impede signals significantly, so that wireless roaming is a necessity-- and this can be supported by a set of access points attached to the same (wired) LAN segment. Another interesting tidbit from Dirk's talk is that many of the vendors are finding that there is extra value in allowing an external antenna to be attached-- and new versions of cards from companies like Cisco Systems no longer have the removable plug for the external antenna and require more costly solutions-- a problem not shared with the Lucent/Orinoco/Wavelan cards... buyer beware!

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February 15, 2009

February 2008: FRUUG Enters Quiescent Phase
After 27 years running, we're suspending operations.

Future Meetings:
None planned

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