Evelyn has had an IPW-2100 chip-set WiFi card in her laptop for a very long time with basically no success with it working reliably. Recently there's been a lot of activity on the driver for it, but I decided in my new laptop to get an Atheros chip-set a/b/g card upgrade instead of the stock IPW-2100. I'd heard good things about Atheros, and knew that Pebble Linux “supported” the Atheros for a long time.
I've been using the Atheros for about the last month, and haven't been super happy with it. The basic functionality works ok, but there are lots of rough edges. First of all, sometimes when I come back up after a suspend, it acts like it's going to start, but it doesn't. I've tried modifying my script to make it work more often without hand-holding, but there's one case where it acts like it's up but the “WiFi” light on my laptop doesn't come on, and I have to remove and reload the module. I finally set up a button on my desktop to do that.
The biggest complaints I have about the Atheros card is that it's got 802.11a support. You'd think that would be a good thing. However, it takes much longer to find the AP when it's scanning the A frequencies as well as B+G. Like, it can take up to a minute, and when combined with the above, I find myself often just obsessing about whether the WiFi is just taking a while and will come up, or whether I have to poke it to make it come up.
Worse is that the commands for locking the card to b frequencies, or changing to b frequencies don't seem to work. This is a serious pain if I want to be an AP for other laptops, a feature I use surprisingly often. Nobody else I know has an A card, and with the Atheros stuck in A mode I haven't been able to run as an AP. The commands for locking to B+G mode just don't work and telling it to use B+G frequencies has no effect either.
Also, scanning for available APs doesn't work. This is surprisingly useful when you're at an unknown location, and also means that I couldn't use GTKWiFi (which relies on scanning). I have my own scripts that act like GTKWiFi, but Brian has done some really nice work on it and I'd like to try it and provide some input on it.
So, on Friday I switched back to the stock IPW-2100 card. First of all, Software Suspending isn't good for doing hardware replacement. Nothing bad happened, but when I came back up it still thought it had the Atheros card in. Not a huge deal, I just rebooted and it was happy.
The IPW-2100 also has problems, though. The driver still has problems, but at least now it's not hanging the box all the time. The biggest problem is that sometimes it just dies in use and has to be re-loaded. This is similar to the Atheros problem, but happens during use where the Atheros only happened when associating after a suspend.
I haven't tried AP mode yet, but I've heard it's supposed to work with the IPW-2100 driver. Scanning definitely does. The biggest benefit is that the card associates incredibly quickly with the AP after coming up. A couple of seconds after I log in, if I log in extremely quickly. If I fart around at all, the interface is up before I log in.
So, which is best? At the moment, I'm going to stick with the IPW-2100, especially since efm and I are traveling next week and will probably be using AP mode all the time.comments powered by Disqus