The IEEE 802.11 specifications define wireless communications for local area networks. These specifications and the networks they describe are referred to collectively as WiFi, a term that is trademarked by the Wi-Fi Alliance trade group. WiFi networks are reasonably easy to configure by both providers and prospective clients. Therefore, they are increasingly popular and in common use throughout the world. WiFi networks use the same radio wave technology as cellular phones, televisions, and radios.
The Solaris OS contains features that enable you to configure a system as a WiFi client. This section explains how to use the WiFi connectivity options of the dladm command to connect a laptop or home computer to a local WiFi network.
The Solaris OS does not contain features for configuring WiFi servers or access points.
Commercially available WiFi networks
Municipal WiFi networks
Private WiFi networks
A location that is served by WiFi is referred to as a hot spot. Each hot spot includes an access point. The access point is a router with a “wired” connection to the Internet, for example, Ethernet or DSL. The Internet connection is usually through a wireless Internet service provider (WISP) or traditional ISP.
Many hotels and cafes offer wireless Internet connections as a service to their customers with laptop computers. These commercial hot spots have access points within their facilities. The access points are routers with wired connections to a WISP that serves commercial locations. Typical WISPs include independent providers and cellular phone companies.
You can use a laptop that runs the Solaris OS to connect to a WiFi network that is offered by a hotel or other commercial hot spot. Ask for instructions at the hot spot for connecting to the WiFi network. Typically, the connection process involves supplying a key to a browser that you launch upon login. You might have to pay a fee to the hotel or WISP in order to use the network.
Commercial locations that are Internet hot spots usually advertise this capability to their patrons. You can also find lists of wireless hot spots from various web sites, for example, Wi-FiHotSpotList.com.
Cities throughout the world have constructed free municipal WiFi networks, which their citizens can access from systems in their homes. Municipal WiFi uses radio transmitters on telephone poles or other outdoor locations to form a “mesh” over the area that the network serves. These transmitters are the access points to the municipal WiFi network. If your area is served by a municipal WiFi network, your home might be included in the network's mesh.
Access to municipal WiFi is usually free. You can access the municipal network from a properly equipped laptop or personal computer that runs the Solaris OS. You do not need a home router to access the municipal network from your system. However, configuring a home router is recommended for areas where the signal from the municipal network is weak. Home routers are also recommended if you require secure connections over the WiFi network. For more information, see Secure WiFi Communications.
Because WiFi networks are relatively easy to configure, companies and universities use private WiFi networks with access limited to employees or students. Private WiFi networks typically require you to supply a key when you connect or run a secure VPN after you connect. You need a properly equipped laptop or PC that runs the Solaris OS and permission to use the security features in order to connect to the private network.
Before you can connect your system to a WiFi network, complete the following instructions.
Equip your system with a supported WiFi interface.
Your system must have a WiFi card that is supported by Solaris. For the Solaris Express, Developer Edition 2/07 and later releases, you can use WiFi cards that support most Atheros chip sets. For a list of currently supported drivers and chip sets, refer to Wireless Networking for OpenSolaris.
If the interface is not already present on the system, follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing the interface card. You configure the interface software during the procedure How to Connect to a WiFi Network.
Locate your system in a place that is served by a WiFi network, either commercial, municipal, or private.
Your system must be near the access point for the network, which is normally not a consideration for a commercial or private network hot spot. However, if you plan to use a free municipal network, your location must be near the transmitter access point.
(Optional) Set up a wireless router to serve as an additional access point.
Set up your own router if no WiFi network is available at your location. For example, if you have a DSL line, connect the wireless router to the DSL router. Then the wireless router becomes the access point for your wireless devices.