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Managing wireless connections with WiFi-Radar

The fast and easy WiFi-Radar is a handy Python-based tool for finding and automatically launching wireless


iFi-Radar [1] searches for the program; assuming you have a wifi-radar.conf configuration file. Modi-
wireless networks and auto- Python installation and the python-gtk fying the interface = auto_detect entry
matically connects. This help- package on your machine, just unpack helps the tool launch more quickly. For
ful Python-based tool provides an easy the tarball, become root, and enter make an Intel WLAN chip, you need to modify
alternative to the better known wireless install. The WiFi-Radar tool launches the entry as follows:
network managers and even supports when you enter sudo wifi-radar in a ter-
WEP and WPA encryption. minal window. interface = eth1
The first time you launch the program,
Installation WiFi-Radar will create the /etc/ Some WLAN cards have to be enabled
WiFi-Radar packages are available for manually. To do so, first switch on the
Debian, Gentoo, SUSE, and Ubuntu. On card by giving the ifconfig <device>
Ubuntu and Debian, you can simply up command. Then enter iwlist
type apt-get install wifi-radar to <device> scan to search for
install. For Gentoo [2] and networks.
SUSE [3], you need to WLAN devices with
download the packages. Ralink and Zydas
Because WiFi-Radar chipsets belong
is written in Python, to this cate-
you need not build gory. If,

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For an unencrypted WLAN network
with a DHCP server, you can just click
Save to save the profile and then click on
Connect in the main WiFi-Radar window
to connect. If you need to access a WEP-
protected WLAN, click WiFi Options and
enter the WEP Key.
In our lab, WiFi-Radar needed hexa-
decimal notation for the WEP key. De-
pending on your WLAN adapter and ac-
Figure 1: The main WiFi-Radar window with a cess point, you might need to modify the
list of networks. entries for Mode, Channel, and Security.
After setting the correct values, just click
you happen to have one, you need to Save and Connect.
change the ifup_required = False entry To use a secure WPA connection, click
in the configuration file to the arrow to the left of the slightly mis-
leading No WPA button. This pops up a Figure 2: WiFi-Radar requires hexadecimal
ifup_required = True dialog and changes the label to Use notation for the WEP key.
WPA. Now you can enter the WPA sup-
This tells WiFi-Radar to automatically plicant driver. For details on the right The developers also fail to provide a
enable the interface at boot time. The driver for your adapter, see Table 1. satisfactory solution for WEP support.
latest version of WiFi-Radar has a graph- The remaining steps in the WPA setup The documentation does not refer to the
ical configuration dialog for these set- are manual, and you start by creating a fact that the entry in WiFi Options | Key
tings. To open the dialog box, click on configuration file as /etc/wpa_suppli- has to be in hexadecimal notation.
Preferences in the main window and cant/wpa_supplicant.conf. A couple of Additionally, the tool failed to display
make the required changes. examples in the README the signal strength for any of the adapt-
WPA-Mini-HOWTO.txt file comes with ers we tested, although this is theoreti-
First Contact the WiFi-Radar source code. cally possible.
Just as with any other WLAN tool, the If WiFi-Radar discovers a network for And it might be a good idea for the
main WiFi-Radar dialog gives you a list which a profile already exists, it will main dialog to indicate what kind of en-
of available networks (Figure 1). A pad- automatically connect to this network. cryption the network uses. Thus, WiFi-
lock to the left of the ESSID indicates To add WiFi-Radar to your boot process, Radar fails as a replacement for the
that the network is encrypted. use the command line wifi-radar -d. popular Gnome NetworkManager tool.
The tool displays a question mark to
the left of the padlock for WLAN net- Advantages and Conclusions
works without a configuration file. The Disadvantages On the up side, the WiFi-Radar tool
question mark disappears once you have Despite repeated attempts, and a lot of scores with a number of features that
set up a profile. research on the Internet, I was unable to comparable programs lack. For example,
To connect to a WLAN network, just set up a secure WPA TKIP connection the Connection Commands | Before and
select the required network in the list using WiFi-Radar and a WPA Supplicant. Connection Commands | After options
and click on the Connect button. De- In fact, my attempts even failed with an give users the ability to integrate scripts
pending on whether or not your WiFi- IPW2100 chipset, which the developers to access mail or to set up an SSH tun-
Radar implementation has a profile, the officially classify as tested. nel. Furthermore, WiFi-Radar is one of
program will either connect or display a Because I was able to set up the con- the few tools that supports static connec-
confirmation dialog. Clicking on Yes nection manually using iwconfig and tions without an access point or DHCP
pops up the WiFi-Radar profile manager wpa_supplicant, this is very likely a server. In our lab, this worked fine on a
(Figure 2). WiFi-Radar bug. machine with an IPW2100 chip (Intel)
and a second PC with a USB stick and a
Table 1: WPA Supplicant Drivers Ralink driver. ■

Driver Card
hostap Driver for Intersil Prism2/2.5/3-Cardn (old)
prism54 Driver for Prism54-Geräte (Intersil Prism GT/Duette/Indigo) [1] WiFi-Radar project homepage:
madwifi Cards with Atheros chipset that use the Madwifi driver (not for USB)
atmel USB and PCMCIA devices with Atmel AT76C5XXx chipset [2] Gentoo packages: http://packages.
wext Generic driver (for Zydas chipsets, for example)
ndiswrapper WLAN devices that use Ndiswrapper [3] WiFi-Radar for SUSE: http://linux01.
ipw Intel driver for IPW2100/2200 chipsets
wired Special driver for Ethernet WLAN adapter php?cat=Network/wifi-radar

W W W. L I N U X - M A G A Z I N E . C O M ISSUE 80 JULY 2007 79