Ubuntu and Wireless Dropout

It had been a while since I had messed with wireless. But since I just brought a fancy new antenna, it was time to investigate some exciting new stuff. Well, as with most things I find exciting they usually end up costing me heaps of time :( .

Once I had setup the new antenna I wanted to have a look at the performance difference, which is a bit flaky from the network manager. But I noticed as I started messing with some commands something happened which was unexpected. I started getting the dreaded “wireless dropout” that occurs infrequently at about 20 second intervals just to piss me off. I tried to retrace my steps to find out what I had changed and ended up spending a whole day looking for the solution. It turns out that with the “cool” new commands that I had learned to do things like:

  • restart the network interfaces
  • lift the interfaces up and down
  • list other networks in my area and
  • finally, one to show the status of my own network

Even though it was nice to be able to type a few words and have the interfaces restart afresh I was leaning toward this being the problem. Then, I remembered that orignally when I was having these sorts of problems in the begining, I downloaded an app called Wicd! This was the solution for my problems orignally and funnily enough did the same again 😉 .

Well, there were some good things to come from this “journey”?? Not sure what they were, but here is a list of the commands that I found and are pretty handy! Also, remember Wicd might also be a simple solution for you?

Show status of “my” wireless interface: ‘iwconfig ath0

xxxxxxxx@HAL:~$ iwconfig ath0
ath0    IEEE 802.11g  ESSID:"xxxxx"  Nickname:""
          Mode:Managed  Frequency:2.442 GHz  Access Point: 00:xx:xx:xx:xx:8B
          Bit Rate:36 Mb/s   Tx-Power:18 dBm   Sensitivity=1/1
          Retry:off   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
          Power Management:off
          Link Quality=58/70  Signal level=-36 dBm  Noise level=-94 dBm
          Rx invalid nwid:52311  Rx invalid crypt:0  Rx invalid frag:0
          Tx excessive retries:0  Invalid misc:0   Missed beacon:0

Show list of all wireless broadcasts within range: ‘iwlist ath0 scan

xxxxxxxx@HAL:~$ iwlist ath0 scan
ath0      Scan completed :
          Cell 01 - Address: 00:xx:xx:xx:xx:8B
                    ESSID:"xxxxx"
                    Mode:Master
                    Frequency:2.442 GHz (Channel 7)
                    Quality=59/70  Signal level=-36 dBm  Noise level=-95 dBm
                    Encryption key:on
                    Bit Rates:1 Mb/s; 2 Mb/s; 5.5 Mb/s; 11 Mb/s; 6 Mb/s
                              9 Mb/s; 12 Mb/s; 18 Mb/s; 24 Mb/s; 36 Mb/s
                              48 Mb/s; 54 Mb/s
                    Extra:bcn_int=100
                    IE: IEEE 802.11i/Encryption here :)
                        Group Cipher : TKIP
                        Pairwise Ciphers (1) : TKIP
                        Authentication Suites (1) : PSK
          Cell 02 - Address: 00:xx:xx:xx:xx:78
                    ESSID:"xxxxx"
                    Mode:Master
                    Frequency:2.442 GHz (Channel 7)
                    Quality=28/70  Signal level=-67 dBm  Noise level=-95 dBm
                    Encryption key:on
                    Bit Rates:1 Mb/s; 2 Mb/s; 5.5 Mb/s; 11 Mb/s; 6 Mb/s
                              9 Mb/s; 12 Mb/s; 18 Mb/s; 24 Mb/s; 36 Mb/s
                              48 Mb/s; 54 Mb/s
                    Extra:bcn_int=100
                    IE: IEEE 802.11i/Encryption here :)
                        Group Cipher : TKIP
                        Pairwise Ciphers (1) : TKIP
                        Authentication Suites (1) : PSK

Restart all network interfaces

xxxxxxxx@HAL:~$ sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart