Since writing this document I have upgraded my hardware platform to a net4801 which has:

Rationale

The 802.11b card in my net4521 burnt out, and a new one would have cost more than an 802.11g access point. Hardware access points also provide fancier features that HostAP doesn't support, like WPA, MAC filtering, etc. Having one box that does everything is nice, but in this case it makes more sense to use a commercial AP.

On top of that, OpenBSD doesn't yet support 802.11a or 802.11g, and when it does the CPU on a small embedded machine may not keep up. The new wireless radios are apparently software driven and require a lot of horsepower. The chipsets are also proprietary, as vendors don't want to give away information about their software radios. Many of the vendors refuse to allow open source developers to write drivers. Fortunately Atheros has provided enough details to build open source drivers, while keeping the core code secret. That isn't the ideal solution, but worth supporting if you want to run 802.11a/g.

Extras

The net4521 was only able to handle around 2Mbps worth of IPSec traffic with the vpn1211. That reduced real 802.11b throughput by about 1Mbps. In contrast the net4801 can do 9.8Mbps with the same crypto card. FreeBSD or Linux might have better performance, but OpenBSD is very nice.

The net4801 also can support a hard drive, could act as a print server for USB printers, and is further expandable through a low-profile PCI card.

Next: Back to Introduction

  1. Introduction
  2. OpenBSD Configuration
  3. Diskless Booting
  4. CompactFlash Installation
  5. Mac OS X IPSec
  6. Errata

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