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Networking - Responding Barry's questions
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rarsa


Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 3053
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sun 23 Mar 2008, 10:39    Post_subject:  Networking - Responding Barry's questions
Sub_title: Raising to the challenge
 

On his static news page Barry asked several questions. Here are my answers based on what I know and think, please add yours and let's make sure we improve this functionality:
Quote:
When a newbie starts up Puppy and wants to connect to a WLAN, is it straightforward or is their some possible confusion in the steps? Does the choice of different tools itself cause confusion?
I am of the idea that the startup behaviour should be as follows:
- If there is "ifplugstatus" positive in one of the interfaces, but there is no configuration file (e.g. /eth0mode) then try to do DHCP. Now that the rc.network starts in the background it should not cause unnecessary delays at first boot.

Failing, or in addition to that I personally like the "Connect" icon on the desktop I think that it makes it clear what tool to use for the different connection types.

The original intention for my changes to the Network wizard to include wireless and scanning was to reduce the number of tools. Since then other tools such as Pwireless have emerged. The keyword here is "choice". While it may be good to have a tool that does everything, some other users may prefer to have purpose-specific gadgets as different people work differently.

In my case I use a single connection 90% of the time so I prefer one took where I set things up. I realize that that's different for people that do more roaming.

One problem I see is that if you have too many options on the surface, new users feel overwhelmed.

The "Connect" icon seems the right place to organize those tools.

Quote:
After establishing a WLAN connection, are the settings saved so that reconnection happens on next boot? The Network Wizard is supposed to do that automatically, but there has been some forum feedback that this is not happening properly.
I've debugged and investigated this long enough to conclude that the settings are saved properly.

The problem is on boot. The parameters are there, the rc.network uses them, but they fail to start properly. Here are the most common scenarios and the suggested workarounds:

- The driver takes too long initializing so it is still not ready by the time the rc.network is initializing connections: There has been a suggestion to add a "delay" option in the network wizard so the user can configure how long to delay the initialization. I don't know if this has already been implemented.

- The driver does not load properly at boot (that happens the bcm43xx). I use that driver and I've modified my rc.local to rmmod the driver, wait, and modprobe it again, I then can set the connection parameters. I haven't found a cleaner workaround.

Quote:
What about people who use both Ethernet-wired and wireless connection? Maybe they have a laptop and sometimes have to use one, not the other. I'm not sure, but it seems that this situation is not being handled gracefully. Perhaps device drivers are conflicting?

I think it's being handled gracefully:
If you have both connections configured, it will use those for which the ifplugstatus is positive.

Bottom line
I think that we have the tools, we just need to organize them in a clear way for new users but also in a handy way for more experienced users.

I have some ideas that i'll be adding but let's kick off this discussion.

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Aitch


Joined: 04 Apr 2007
Posts: 6825
Location: Chatham, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Sun 23 Mar 2008, 13:25    Post_subject:  

Hi rarsa
When I first posted here as a total noob about a year ago, wireless wasn't very well supported or documented, or if it was as a noob, there was no quick find using search to enable a resolve
My problem broke down into several components
1. my original hardware a BT usb wifi key wasn't supported, so, after many attempts, I got an Asus PCI card that was reported as using the RT2500 driver
2. configuring the setup, knowing what tools to use, how to use them, again, no clear documentation, AND linux users have a slightly different mentality/approach/language to windows users, so knowing how to describe the problem, was also a 'problem' LOL
3. once having gotten to the stage where the drivers appeared ok, security settings needed to be set; you need to know what they are, which is fine if you set them, however I was sharing someone else's wifi and didn't know the settings
4. once that was sorted, now 4/5 days of 'tinkering and frustration', getting the damn thing to remember the setting so it would work again, was a problem, because I got told 'all you have to do is put this script in rc.local' or something, which was like saying 'parlez vous francais' only worse, because I understand that
The tools issue confusion for me, was 'where are the tools' as much as what tool, and the fact that many posters would say that they prefer 'CLI solutions' & I had no idea what a CLI solution was!
I remember jonyo as having similar problems, since we appeared around the same time, and suffered similar frustrations
* I know this has changed now, & I can't go back to the 'unknowing' status that I came from, but it seems to me that this was where it came from, and HairyWill & tempestuous were the names most commonly from my perspective, helping noobs with wifi
Thanks to all, but especially those two
PS, I think Puppy leads the field in it's ability to get wifi working & other OSs still suffer
Suggestions:
* Highlight this forum more on the download/main pages. I didn't know
where to look for help
* More / better info/howtos, more prominently placed on main pages
* glossary of terms
* known working hardware list prominence
* 'info you will need' pointers on setup security/IP, if DHCP doesn't work
* better search info eg
http://www.wellminded.com/puppy/pupsearch.html
specifically on wifi section page
* better categories on forum, such as daughter headings under main
hardware hardware heading either alphabetically or 'sort by' drop down
box, into wifi/network/video/usb etc, instead of the last post priority
presently used
* Perhaps a specifically written/ updated howto, that deals with known solutions, maybe themselves indexed, is called for?

I believe Barry's request may well be dating back to last year, and be one of those things he only just found time to deal with, he has been kept quite busy, with recent website events & v4 etc!!

Aitch Smile Thanks
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Sage

Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 4797
Location: GB

PostPosted: Mon 24 Mar 2008, 11:15    Post_subject:  

Although there has now been a first successful prosecution in the UK for unauthorised theft of bandwidth, I still strongly recommend folks to rip up all the carpets and floorboards and USE the RJ ports on their router to hardwire their house. Difficult to intercept a wired connection - just the cybercriminals to concentrate on then. iPods, mobiles, w.h.y - they all plug in somewhere.
In other words, leave out the wireless stuff. It's a fad and a risky one at that. Unnecessary technology. Chuck out the aerial along with the laptop. N95 anyone?
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Pizzasgood


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 6270
Location: Knoxville, TN, USA

PostPosted: Mon 24 Mar 2008, 17:43    Post_subject:  

A fad huh? Somehow I doubt it.

I agree about the superiority of wires though. Faster, more secure, no poor connection problems, very simple setup, dirt cheap, etc. A hundred feet of Cat-5 and a less aesthetically-minded mother would have saved me much grief a couple years ago. Rolling Eyes


@Aitch: Great idea. Puppy should include a glossary and a copy of tempestuous's guide, along with a step by step guide for using the GUI. Considering the user won't be able to get online until they get their gear working, after all.

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JustGreg

Joined: 24 May 2005
Posts: 706
Location: Connecticut USA

PostPosted: Mon 24 Mar 2008, 20:33    Post_subject:  

FAD! Just look at the wireless cellular telephone industry and what it did to the wired telephones. In most major US cities, one can be hard pressed to find a "pay phone". Yes, there was a thief of wireless cellular services problem several years (or is it decades) ago. The problem was resolved by technology. Yes, one can hack WPA2, but, you can make difficult enough for the thieving soul to force them to look for a easier mark or they will be around long enough for you to notice them.

Ok, back to the topic. Wireless can be a pain to set up. There is a learning curve. Once I learned, I can do it with either the Classmate or the EeePC and normal Puppy tools in places with open networks or WEP. The WPA2 networks can be a bit more difficult, but, using the command line interface and some knowledge one can connect.. Every new tool requires some time to learn. Pardon the tied expression, no pain no gain.

Setting up wireless network is not painless with Windows either. Problems in setting up wireless networks, is one of the reasons that people end up just using the defaults (including passwords) or no encryption. Which make it easier for strangers to use them.

One problem is most of the hardware is so Windows based, that finding the appropriate driver is the problem. This has been the problem with using Linux and new hardware. it would be nice if the wireless hardware had a common method of interfacing. But, the manufacturers of the hardware, all think their way is the best.

Thank you to all, who have provided Puppy with the excellent networking tools.

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davids45


Joined: 26 Nov 2006
Posts: 652
Location: Chatswood, NSW

PostPosted: Mon 24 Mar 2008, 20:38    Post_subject:  

G'day,
A comment I've made before elsewhere, but would like to make again, regarding the Wizard, WAN & WPA.
The networking wizard is excellent as long as the driver suits your card and network encryption.
With only Windows operated computers, a year or more ago, I had set up a WPA network at home as I read this was better than WEP.
All was OK until the latest Pups' drivers for my RT2500 cards say they don't support WPA but still get loaded up by the wizard.
I now need to use ndiswrapper and the XP drivers to log onto my WPA network - I'm unable to change the network encryption back to WEP, as her indoors is happy with WPA/XP.
But Pup's wizard cannot unload an in-my-case defective driver so blythely switching to use "More/ndiswrapper" on the wizard fails - I had to "manually" blacklist the default driver plus clean out some wpa_supplicant stuff to start afresh.
So could the wizard have a "Plan-B" to disable drivers where they are unsuitable for the network although the card might be OK?

David S.
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Lobster
Official Crustacean


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 15117
Location: Paradox Realm

PostPosted: Mon 24 Mar 2008, 22:02    Post_subject:  

Wired connects are a legacy option. Wireless is the preferred consumer option. Wireless printers. Wireless control systems and so on.

I was using the Wii over the weekend and connecting to the Internet just requires your router password. The rest is pretty much auto.

Every new user prefers what is simpler. Plug in a cable or don't.

Which is simpler?

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Pizzasgood


Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 6270
Location: Knoxville, TN, USA

PostPosted: Tue 25 Mar 2008, 01:20    Post_subject:  

I learned to plug things in long before I figured out how to work a keyboard, so I'd have to say the cable is simpler. It's even "keyed" to make it easy to figure out which way to put it in.
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Lobster
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Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 15117
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Mar 2008, 03:47    Post_subject:  

Very Happy Clearly it is easier for a geek to plug something in that has an option to not plug in (like my router) I too use a wired connection.

For normal people, all things being equal, that which auto-configures will be preferred over the tweak till you drop option. Wifi and roaming internet is being used by 12 year olds and their laptops (over here anyway) They do not require an ethernet port to plug into . . . that would cut down time for text messaging to friends phones . . .

The point I wish to make about wifi for Puppy . . .
. . . To be used by the emerging next generation, it needs to be as auto and simple as possible (no change there). That is always the hardest to program (no change there). Smile

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rarsa


Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 3053
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue 25 Mar 2008, 16:44    Post_subject:  

Usefull discussion, I may be having an ephiphany

The idea of bundling wired and wireless on the same interface came from: A network is a network is a network

Maybe that was the wrong approach.

What I'm gettng from this discuss is that for normal users a wired network is not the same as a wireless network.

Maybe users don't ask "how do I connect" but "how do I connect wired" or "how do I connect wireless".

Is this interpretation of the discussion above correct?

Please note that this thread is not to discuss the benefit of wireless or wired. Or how a device that has a proprietary interface and a proprietary driver can do it painless.

This thread is to discuss how to make it easier for the users to connect regardless of what their choice (or need) or connection.

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Aitch


Joined: 04 Apr 2007
Posts: 6825
Location: Chatham, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Tue 25 Mar 2008, 18:04    Post_subject:  

@rarsa
I tried to start the thread sensibly, & you must know Sage, Lobster & Pizzasgood well enough
I'm sure I've seen these same points aired elsewhere, sorry guys, nothing personal

I've tried several different PCs since first coming to Puppy, but like I've said before - you can't unlearn something once you know HOW to do it, which IS what makes it easier
Apart from the occasional DHCP glitch occasionally, wired or wireless, I now find it fairly painless to get on the net
but I seem to spend a fair amount of time helping others to get to where I now am
I still struggle with modem stuff, but I've never used one as I have used broadband & don't want to 'deteriorate' my browsing experience

Aitch

I think you need jonyo's input as well
We seem to keep coming up on the same posts
He & I started about the same time & have had similar struggle/learning curve
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nic2109

Joined: 01 Jan 2007
Posts: 406
Location: Hayslope, near Middlemarch, Midlands, England

PostPosted: Tue 25 Mar 2008, 18:35    Post_subject:  

Yes, wired is "better" in many ways; but, as most new PCs now are laptops which come with wireless built-in, Puppy must support them IMHO, fad or not.

My experiences with the Networking include the following observations.

1. As long as your interfaces are detected AND you know what your hardware is called and what your settings are then it's pretty straight-forward to configure.

2. If you have no idea what's inside or it's not detected then things are hopeless. The option to browse the (huge) list and choose the right one is no help at all if you don't know what you are looking for, and the "Auto" option has never worked. It either fails to find anything, or (and this is worse) picks a module, loads it and then reports "It loaded OK but the interface still isn't active so I'll unload it. OK?" (that's my paraphrase, but I think you'll get the drift).

3. I get confused when both wired and wireless appear to be active and have never known whether it mattered at all. If it does matter then I would prefer it to stop and ask me. But only if it's not possible to activate wireless if wired has failed to get an IP address - assuming that eth0 is tried first.

4. It would be really useful to have the ability to switch between them without a reboot. There are occasions when I boot wired but wish to move location and continue wirelessly but that doesn't seem possible.

5. I found (and reported) that the wireless profile was not being activated in Dingo but needs loading every time. I believe that the config file is NOT being updated - unless it's cheating and not using the file that the wizard says it does. This is only a problem in Dingo.

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urban soul


Joined: 05 Mar 2008
Posts: 276
Location: "Killing a nerd is not as much fun as ist sounds" B.Simpson

PostPosted: Wed 26 Mar 2008, 12:10    Post_subject:  

Some further ideas:

we have three major steps:
(1) Interface setup
(2) Profile management
(3) Connecting (eg. IP setup)

Clicking the desktop icon "Connect" may run a connect-script, which does the following:

a) check if (1) has been done, if not use defaults.
b) check if (2) has been done, if not use defaults.
c) Do connect using options found in (1) and (2) configuration files.
d) Fall back to a autogenerated script like the one created by 'autoconnect' eg.
If successfully connected display a status window. If not display network setup window with options to configure (1) and (2). Network setup window may be run separatly also of course. Network setup window may have a button to re-run 'connect' script.

Regarding point (1) Interface setup: The funtions are there. New may be the definition of a priority which can be edited by the user, eg. dial-up -> ethernet -> wireless. This means 'connect' will try the method ith the highest priority first.

Regarding point (2) Profile management. The funtions are already there, too. Each method (dialup, ethernet wired or wireless) may have its own profile-conf file for various places. New may be the definition of a priority for each profile.

Regarding point (3)Connecting. This would be done in the fashion of autoconnect: checking which option is available, one after the other according to its priority. Interface-priority comes before the according profile-priority.

Fallback
We all know that the way linux is developed new devices (espacialy) can need certain caveats (to put it this way). Users have no problem opening a text editor. However, they have a problem with receipts they do not understand and/or with arrogance. (This is where the Puppy Spirit comes in)....

I agree with rarsa, the code is there. Also these ideas only need little arrangement of the code but may greatly improve user experience. And BTW I am ready not only to talk about it but also to some work on it.

Urban

PS.
Testing dialup needs a lot of time, so default would be to do that at the end.

PPS. Startup question. 'Connect' should not be run automatically because if PG's cable is not pugged in this is a nag. Instead use a silent option gathered from user setup.
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HairyWill


Joined: 26 May 2006
Posts: 2949
Location: Southampton, UK

PostPosted: Wed 26 Mar 2008, 20:30    Post_subject:  

The thing that tripped me up the first couple of times was having to read the instructions and hit the dhcp button after setting up my wireless parameters. How many people out there are there that use static IPs for wireless?

My feeling on how this should work is that after confirming that the wireless parameters are good, the wizard should say some thing like "please click OK to obtain an IP adress via DHCP" this way the user actually has to hit cancel to avoid the dhcp.

I agree with the earlier comment on automatically saving the wireless profile when you hit "use this config"

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Aitch


Joined: 04 Apr 2007
Posts: 6825
Location: Chatham, Kent, UK

PostPosted: Wed 26 Mar 2008, 21:47    Post_subject:  

@rarsa

I just remembered another thing

we need an easy way to get the wifi to turn off [ifconfig down or something]
as, if you get a rare problem of something going on you don't want, like spam, an auto-update or auto-installer, you don't want to have to yank the plug out/3 finger salute, just to stop it
I don't think that has ever been implemented

I also seem to remember, though I'm not using wifi now, that the blinky indicater would sometimes not load even though I had a connection

I would also like to see a 2 colour blinky
One, green, which shows signal strength, the other, yellow maybe, showing [flashing] network activity,
as, if you get something using your network & you don't know.............. especially if we're going to go over to using torrents for the servage site, knowing when your network is running would be a boon, as well as to aid
other downloading activity

Other than that, this is where we need one of Lobster's experimental databases to analyse the forum posts, & sort all the problems into: e.g.
Forum posted wifi problems by percentage
1 user/.........................................................................%
2 hardware/ .................................................................%
3 info missing or scattered on 3/4 sites/ .......................%
4 security/wep/wap/.......................................................%
5 configuration startup/ ..................................................%
6 puppy not remembering settings on reboot..................%
7 any others...................................................................%
8 solved.........................................................................%

or maybe we could ask the forum to help?

http://www.wellminded.com/puppy/pupsearch.html

Aitch Smile
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