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Linux & Wireless LANsWavelan IEEE driversWavelan driversWireless ToolsPapersMain page
IntroductionVarious driversDownloadPatches & LinksIssues


The Linux Wavelan IEEE driver and Linux Orinoco driver are Open Source project that had many contributors through their turbulent life. I did contribute to it since 1999 thanks to Hewlett Packard sponsoring my work. My main contribution was the Wireless Extensions support (of course), multi-firmware support and a few bug fixes.

The Wavelan IEEE/Orinoco is the current generation of Wireless LAN hardware offered by Lucent (and others). A more detailed description is available in the Wireless Howto. This page describe the state of the new Linux MPL/GPL driver for this hardware.

There is still a page for the old Linux GPL driver called wvlan_cs.c. For the good old Wavelan, which was not IEEE compliant (a few generations back), go here. For other wireless LANs types (such as the very common PrismII), please read the Linux Wireless Howto.

Wavelan IEEE/Orinoco hardware : One hardware, 3 drivers...

There are three drivers supporting the same Wavelan IEEE hardware. One is the new MPL/GPL driver, called orinoco_cs. One is the old GPL driver, called wvlan_cs. The last one is based on a binary library and supported by Lucent, called wavelan2_cs.

For all problem related to wavelan2_cs, please contact Lucent directly. The lack of source code make debugging in most case impossible.

On the other hand, this page deals exclusively with orinoco_cs, the new MPL/GPL driver, now part of the kernel 2.4. Various people outside Lucent are active keeping this driver alive. I still have a page for the old Linux GPL driver called wvlan_cs.c.

We are in the process of phasing out gradually wvlan_cs in favor of orinoco_cs, which has all the features of the former without the bugs. We are recommending people doing a new installation to start directly with orinoco_cs.

Why would you use orinoco_cs ? A few reasons :

  • Full source code. Some people strongly beleive in the concept of Free Software and Open Source, especially when it come to stuff that reside in kernel space.
  • Not only for i386 platforms. Can be made to work on PPC, Alpha, StrongArm, ia64 and your favourite platform (doesn't mean that it will work out of the box).
  • Multi configuration, using Pcmcia schemes and wireless.opts (see below). This may be also achieved using the specific networking scripts of some distributions.
  • Much better Wireless Extension support.
  • Signal strength in ad-hoc mode (see below).
  • Multi-firmware (1.16 -> 6.16) and multi-vendor (Lucent, Enterasys & ELSA) support.
  • Some Prism2 and Symbol card support...
Of course, the wavelan2_cs driver does also have its advantages, but Lucent can speak for it.

Orinoco driver : One driver, 3 hardwares...

The Orinoco driver support 3 hardware which are very closely related but slightly different :
  • Lucent/Agere Orinoco Pcmcia cards and Apple Airport (howto)
  • Intersil PrismII Pcmcia/PLX/PCI cards (howto)
  • Symbol Spectrum24 HR Pcmcia cards (howto)

If you look in the Wireless Howto, you will find that each of these hardware have other drivers available. For the Orinoco, we list those drivers in the previous section. For PrismII, there are the famous linux-wlan-ng and HostAP drivers, which have advantages over this driver.

Because Orinoco support all those hardware, people think they are the same hardware. However, all those other drivers support only one of these hardware, and only the Orinoco driver support all three of them. At boot, the Orinoco driver will print in the message logs which of the three hardware it has detected, with the firmware version number.

Related hardware and drivers.

These are other hardware that people often confuse with the Wavelan IEEE/Orinoco, but which are totally different and incompatible :
  • The Wavelan was a non IEEE compliant hardware that Lucent made before the Wavelan IEEE/Orinoco.
  • Proxim is selling an Orinoco 802.11a and Orinoco 802.11g which are based on the Atheros chipset.

Those are hardware related to the Wavelan IEEE/Orinoco but which require a modified version of the Orinoco driver :

  • The USB version of the Orinoco card need the Orinoco USB driver.
  • The Symbol CF card need the spectrum driver.

Those driver are now merged into the main Orinoco driver (at least in the CVS).

Latest version of the driver

Pavel is the new maintainer of the driver, the very latest version of the driver is available in recent Linux kernels :
  • Download the Linux Kernel.
Pavel also maintains a version of the driver that can be used in many kernel, this is available in the CVS : David was the main maintainer of the driver, old versions of his drivers are availableon his web site :
  • Download old versions of the Orinoco driver.
I have an old version of the Pcmcia configuration file :
  • hermes.conf : Pcmcia configuration file to put in /etc/pcmcia/.

The version in the latest Linux kernel tend to be up somewhat to date (both 2.4.X and 2.6.X). The version in the latest Pcmcia package is a bit older.

Patches for orinoco_cs and various web pages related to orinoco_cs

Jean Driver

Other people are hacking like crazy on the driver :
  • David Gibson was the author and maintainer of the Orinoco Linux driver.
  • David has set up a SourceForge Project for the driver, that mostly contains a Mailing List.
  • Pavel has set up a Savannah Project for the driver, that mostly contains the CVS for driver development.
  • Pavel Roskin maintains the Symbol version of the Orinoco driver. This driver is now part of the main Orinoco driver.
  • Manuel Estrada Sainz created the Orinoco-USB version of the Orinoco driver. This driver can now be found in the Orinoco CVS.
  • The Shmoo group has been hacking the Orinoco driver to all 802.11 raw frame access (monitor mode). This patch has now been integrated in the latest release. They also have a bunch of Orinoco firmware versions.
  • Moustafa A. Youssef is maintaining the patch to add Scanning capability to the Orinoco driver (derived from my original version), and also is the maintainer of the mwvlan driver, a modified version of wvlan_cs with scanning support.
  • Jim Carter has sent me an version of the scanning patch for v0.13a (based on the version of Moustafa).
  • Jesus Molina has a patch to include Scanning support in the Symbol version of the Orinoco driver. This patch has now been integrated in the latest release.
  • Pavel Roskin has sent me an version of the scanning patch for v0.13d (based on the version of Moustafa). Also include scanning support for Symbol firmwares (from Jesus Molina). This patch has now been integrated in the latest release.
  • Tobias Hoffmann has a version of the Orinoco driver for the Nortel PCI card.
  • Hunz has created HermesAP, a modified version of the orinoco driver that support Access Point functionality (provided you have a tertiary firmware).
  • Thomas 'Dent' Mirlacher wrote a couple of patches to move the 802.11 decapsulation in the network layer, those are old patches for the Orinoco v0.11 driver and for the kernel.
  • Stano Meduna wrote a patch to add driver based WEP encryption to the Orinoco driver to support properly broken PrismII firmwares.
  • Paul Stewart wrote a patch to add Fast-keying support to the Orinoco driver, to support properly 802.1x and not drop the session while changing the WEP key. This patch has now been integrated in the latest release.
  • Robert J. Moore updated the patch to add authentication support for Orinoco firmwares.
  • Andreas Neuhaus was the original maintainer of the Wavelan IEEE Linux driver (wvlan_cs).
  • Harald Roelle did the original PPC specific patch (now outdated) and has a page on how to set up a Wavelan IEEE under Linux-PPC and how to connect it to the 'UFO' (the Apple Airport base station).
  • Anton Blanchard is the did some work on the the Wavelan IEEE Linux driver (wvlan_cs), including PPC support.
  • Benjamin Herrenschmidt has modified the Wavelan IEEE driver to make it work with the Apple Airport card. This is an incredible hack. He has now done with the new Orinoco driver...

Jean Driver Downloader

Help, Howto and other hacks :
  • Dan Smith has a page on how to set up orinoco_cs (with driver binding and wireless.opts).
  • Ian Goldberg has a pretty complete web page on how to set up the Symbol CF card on the Sharp Zaurus.
  • Brad Allison has a page to workaround some Red-Hat 7.2 quirks with orinoco_cs, and how to use Red-Hat 7.3 specific wireless configuration.
  • Martin Pot has a page on how to set up the Orinoco driver with Red-Hat 7.3 (with many quirks) and build a Wireless Router.
  • Paul Lucas has a page on how to set up a Wavelan IEEE under Linux-PPC with an updated PPC specific patch.
  • Anonymous has a page on how to set up a Orinoco USB and various other useful info on these cards.
  • Rich Bowen and Dino Lachiusa explain how to setup a Wavelan IEEE card with the RG-1000. Note that the same procedure work with orinoco_cs and you can also use Wireless Extensions ;-)
  • There was a thread on the Pcmcia Forums about the RG-1000 and Linux, including setting up the RG-1000 from Linux and the Linux clients.
  • Schuyler Erle explain how to set up a Linux Wireless Home Gateway, including the wireless setup, SSH, firewalling, NAT and DHCPD.
  • NexTechWireless details how to change a Orinoco silver card into an Orinoco gold (by forcing a firmware upgrade). Of course, this might void your waranty...

Jean Driver Downloads

  • Jon Sevy has developped a Java-based AirPort Base Station configurator, that should please some people not owning a Mac...
  • Mad Science Research labs explain you how to upgrade the Airport UFO to RC4 128 bits (this should apply to the RG-1000 as well).
  • Constantin Von Wentzel explain you how to put an external antenna on the Airport UFO (this should apply to the RG-1000 as well).
  • Mark C. Langston has written some Perl script to check the status of the Airport Base Station.
  • Tom Z. Meinlschmidt has developped an impressive package allowing to monitor a Wavelan Access Point using SNMP.
  • Greg Hankins is porting the above software to work with RoamAbout Access Points.
  • Ross Finlayson explain in details how to use Linux as a Wireless router for their wireless ISP (LIVE.COM).

Jean Driver Download

Issues and release notes

Jean Too many for my taste ;-(
  • Maintenance : David is maintaining the orinoco_cs driver (I'm helping him as well). wvlan_cs is no longer maintained.
  • It doesn't work : Yeah, that's a detailed bug report ! From experience, 95% of the problem are not due to the driver but a generic Pcmcia configuration issues. Make sure that your Pcmcia socket and setup is functional, and try another Pcmcia card before blaming the driver.
  • Lucent card support : fully functional. All the features of the various firmware revisions work properly.
  • Lucent Firmware revisions : The latest driver should work across all firmware revisions, it has been tested with 1.16, 4.08, 4.52, 6.04, 6.06, 6.16 and 7.28. However, some feature might not work well in all firmwares (promiscuous in 6.04) or are even not available at all (fragmentation for 6.X, Microwave Oven for 4.X). Ad-Hoc mode is also different in firmware 4.X and 6.X (see below). It seems that with firmware 7.52 the power management setting is ineffective.
  • Lucent Firmware updater : available on Lucent web site, not available for Linux. Note that most firmware updaters require a specific version of the Windows driver to work (always messy for me).
  • Airport card support : only in driver version 5 and above (kernel 2.4.5). Exact same support as for Lucent cards.
  • Symbol card support : fairly complete in v6. Works perfectly for me on an Intel card in Managed mode and Ad-Hoc demo mode, up to 11 Mb/s with 128 bit encryption. IBSS works fine as well with my Wavelan card ;-). Version 8 recognise the firmware properly and disable Power Management in firmware v2.20 and later.
  • PrismII card support : Not yet fully functional. Most PrismII cards should work in some form or fashion. Ad-Hoc demo mode, IBSS Ad-Hoc mode and bit rate setting have been seen to work on a D-Link card. Encryption is quite broken, sometime a tcpdump manages to make it work. Note that PrismII firmwares seems to be not as good in general, for example they don't support Multicast and WEP is broken in most releases...
  • Driver versions : Most up to date is in Kernel 2.4.12.
  • Kernel 2.4.X : Works fine with in-kernel Pcmcia driver (kernel 2.4.3 and later). Enable Pcmcia support in kernel, recompile and configure normally. You can also use the external Pcmcia support 3.1.29 and later.
  • Kernel 2.2.X : Use Pcmcia package 3.1.29 or later.
  • PCI adapter : may be the cause of configuration troubles, and does not work on most older PCs. Not really orinoco_cs related. Use the ISA adapter if possible.
  • PLX adapter : supported in v8 (kernel 2.4.12 and later). Use as a regular PCI network driver.
  • Prism2.5 PCI cards : not supported, please use linux-wlan-ng.
  • USB adapters : for Lucent/Agere, use the Orinoco-USB driver, for PrismII adapters, use linux-wlan-ng.
  • MiniPCI cards : there is various kind of MiniPCI cards in various laptops. Some are based on a PCI-Pcmcia bridge (Dell - confirmed working), some are based on a USB adapter (HP - working with Orinoco-USB) and some are based on a PCI Prism2.5 card (IBM/HP - confirmed working).
  • Multi-setup (profiles) : use the Pcmcia scheme mechanism (see Pcmcia Howto) with network.opts and wireless.opts. Better than in Windows, because both IP config and Wireless config are changed synchronously. This may be also achieved using the specific networking scripts of some distributions.
  • Multi-card : The driver supports it (2 cards in a box) and it has been tested successfully. Radio link quality will be impacted.
  • SMP : The driver is fully SMP safe and has been successfully tested on a SMP box, including Wireless Extensions.
  • Configuration : The only way to configure the orinoco_cs driver is through the Wireless Extensions, using the wireless init files.
  • Ad-hoc modes : for most cards, there is two Ad-Hoc mode, the old proprietary Ad-hoc demo mode and the new 802.11 compliant IBSS Ad-Hoc mode. Those two Ad-Hoc mode are totally incompatible and do not interoperate between each other.
    For Orinoco cards, IBSS Ad-Hoc mode is available only in firmware 6.06 and later. For Symbol card, IBSS Ad-Hoc mode is available only in firmware 2.00 and later. For PrismII cards, IBSS Ad-Hoc mode is available only in firmware 0.08 and later.
    The Ad-Hoc mode that the driver will select depend on a few factor :
    • by default : if IBSS is not available, the standard Ad-Hoc mode is the old Ad-Hoc demo mode, if IBSS is available, the standard Ad-Hoc mode is 802.11 compliant IBSS Ad-Hoc (same as Windows driver).
    • iwpriv ethX set_port3 1 : Force the standard Ad-Hoc mode to be the old Ad-Hoc demo mode.
    • iwpriv ethX set_port3 0 : Force the standard Ad-Hoc mode to be the 802.11 compliant IBSS Ad-Hoc mode (if available).
    Note that you can set those commands in the wireless init files. Then, to set the card in the standard Ad-Hoc mode that you have selected, you just need to do :
    • MODE='Ad-Hoc' (in the wireless init files) : set the standard Ad-Hoc mode.
    • iwconfig ethX mode Ad-Hoc : set the standard Ad-Hoc mode.
  • Debugging Ad-Hoc mode : the field 'Access Point' or 'Cell' shown by iwconfig is usefull for knowing what's happening. If it's all zeros, you are using Ad-Hoc demo mode. In IBSS Ad-Hoc mode it indicates the cell the node has joined. It should be the MAC address of the first node started and all nodes should have the same value (apart if they are out of range).
  • Encryption keys : Encryption setting is fully functional and available in the wireless init files. Note that the driver doesn't complain if you set a 128 bits key on a 40 bits only card (Silver), which won't work...
  • Fragmentation setting : firmware 6.X and later removed direct fragmentation threshold setting in favor of microwave oven robustness (automatic fragmentation). For those firmware, the fragmentation setting in the driver enable or disable MWO robustness.
  • Signal strength in ad-hoc mode : set a MAC address in the spy list using iwspy, first address in the list will appear in /proc/net/wireless as well as with iwspy.
  • Promiscuous mode : does work with firmware 4.X and open network (no encryption). Doesn't seem to work with encryption enabled and with firware 6.04. Likely to be firmware issues...
  • Driver switching : If you want to switch between the 3 Wavelan-IEEE drivers, everything is controlled in /etc/pcmcia. wvlan_cs is bound in config, orinoco_cs is bound in hermes.conf, wavelan2_cs is bound in wavelan2_cs.conf. Comment those files as needed.
  • Driver not loading : if after installing the orinoco driver the driver doesn't load or another driver loads, make sure you added hermes.conf in /etc/pcmcia and check other files for driver binding (see above).
  • Ethernet Bridging : doesn't work due to 802.11 protocol restriction. You may want to try IP bridging (with ARP proxy) or routing.
  • Tx Timeout : various things can produce Tx Timeout. It depends on when they happen and how frequent they are :
    • As soon as the card is inserted : interrupts are not delivered to the driver (not a driver problem, more a Pcmcia problem - check /proc/interrupts). If you have a PCI adapter, try to play with 'PCIC_OPTS' setting. Also try to exclude the irq currently used by the driver in /etc/pcmcia/config.opts.
    • Under load : This has been fixed in orinoco_cs...
  • GetNextTuple: No more items : You are using a PrismII card in a 5V only Pcmcia slot. PrismII cards support both 3.3V and 5V operation but forget to tell Pcmcia about 5V. Use the ignore_cis_vcc module option to workaround this.
  • Resetting the card : the card may get dead for various reasons. The driver include two functionalities to reset the card. iwpriv ethX force_reset will do a firmware reset, and iwpriv ethX card_reset will do a hard Pcmcia reset of the card.
  • 802.3 encapsualtion : various Access Points and drivers interpret the 802.3 specification in different way. Older driver would not work with specific Access Points (Linksys), and in theory, the latest driver works around those gotchas. If you can receive but not transmit with your Access Point, try playing with the use_old_encaps module option.
  • Short preamble : The Orinoco cards don't support short preamble, so you need to disable it in your Access Point. The Symbol cards support short preamble, and this may be enabled via iwpriv ethX set_preamble 1.
  • Symbol and Ad-Hoc interoperability : Because Symbol card enable short preamble by default, you may have interoperability problem in Ad-Hoc mode with other vendors, so just do iwpriv ethX set_preamble 0 (you may also set that in the wireless init files using IWPRIV='set_preamble 0').
  • WEP and PrismII : Most PrismII firmwares are completely broken when it come to WEP support, and only firmwares 1.4.9 and later support WEP properly and will work properly with Orinoco. For broken firmwares, it is possible to use driver based encryption, which is available in HostAP or as a patch for Orinoco (and this will slow down operation).
Wireless LANs and Wireless Tools - [email protected]
Updated 26 May 04
Copyright © 1996-2004 Jean Tourrilhes
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