Subject: ral, hostap and netbsd..
To: None <>
From: Martijn van Buul <>
List: tech-net
Date: 12/09/2005 22:18:59

Now that I finally have an internet connection at home again, I picked up
my efforts to get my wireless network into shape again. I used to be using
a dedicated AP (Well, a wireless router, really, but I wasn't using the
router functionality), but I wasn't overly happy with the result; I wanted
more flexibility than it could offer me, and since my parents' router gave
way, I donated it to them and decided to roll my own. For various reasons,
I chose a ral-based card. First of all, I had good experiences with them,
having used a ral-based cardbus card for quite a while on my laptop, secondly
they're cheap, and furthermore it's the only wireless card my local hardware
shop was selling that I was *sure* of that it was based on a supported
chipset (Most of the rest is broadcomm).

So, now I'm trying to have a cardbus-based ral-card talk to a PCI-based
ral-card, and I'm not much luck. Surely, the cards do connect, but the
result is mediocre at best. It actually works if the two machines are
physically close to eachother, but even a single wall makes things 
problematic. The connection becomes spotty, and will sometimes be dead
for minutes, after which it will return to work for a while. Anything that
might have an impact on reception will render things broken again. 

I have no proof whatsoever, but I've got a hunch that the interfaces have
problems negotiating a common connection speed, and will loose track of
eachother once one of them decides that the signal strength has dropped
under a certain threshold, only to accidentally land on the same speed after 
a while. Using 11b instead of 11g makes things *slightly* better, but doesn't
solve it.  Oddly, when my laptop is running Windows, the connection is a 
little bit more stable, and outages most definately do not last as long as 
when it's running NetBSD. When I put a borrowed (but unconnected) access 
point as an intermediate, things work like a charm. 

Unfortunately, I do not have the possibility to try and use a different
card on either end. I do have a USB atu-device, but it's been giving me
issues in the past (which was one of the reasons I switched to the ral
card on my laptop), and considering that my laptop is running -current,
and that atu is broken under current, it's a no-go. The cardbus card is
known to be OK - it works perfectly when I am someplace *with* an AP -
like my parent's place....

I tried giving the PCI card a better antenna (A seperate one, instead of
the small antenna being blocked by the PC case), but it has only a marginal
effect. I vaguely rememberd something about wep being a possible cause,
but disabling that doesn't help. I tried to use ad-hoc, but failed to do

Is this a known problem? Is there anything I can do to assist solving it?

Kind regards,


    Martijn van Buul - -
	 Geek code: G--  - Visit OuterSpace: 3333
 The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new
discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...' Isaac Asimov