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Friday, March 1, 2013

Plasma NM: ap master mode for wifi shared connections

NetworkManager usually configures the wifi card in ad-hoc mode when activating a wifi shared connection. Unfortunately, ad-hoc mode is unstable in certain situations (specially when using WPA2 encryption). As a consequency most smartphones refuses to connect a WAP2 shared connection in ad-hoc mode.

There is a project in Fedora to make NetworkManager configure the wifi card in ap master mode (ap mode for short), which by the way is the mode access points run in. I have just pushed some commits to QtNetworkManager (former libnm-qt) and Plasma NM to add support to ap mode. I tried to test this but the firmware of my wifi card (Intel Ultimate-N 6300) does not support ap mode so I need someone else to test this for me.

Ap mode should solve the instability problems that usually people face when trying to activate shared connections in NetworkManager. It is a great improvement in NetworkManager, but it requires at least NetworkManager version, wpa_supplicant-1.1 and a suitable firmware for your wifi card. If your wifi card does not support ap mode then Plasma NM will set the shared connection to use adhoc mode instead.

Update: I forgot I have a second wifi card, a usb Ralink RT5370, which supports ap-mode (uhu!!!). After updating wpa_supplicant to version 1.1 now ap-mode works with Plasma NM :-) Now I can connect my Samsung Galaxy S2 to the Internet using my notebook as gateway. Well, I had to unload the intel wifi card's driver to prevent conflicts with the ralink card. Plasma NM support for more than one wifi card at the same time is not good, that is another point I need to work on, maybe during Solid Sprint in April.

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