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I am looking for some input on how to get a linux distro rolling that will be suitable for use as a wireless basestation.

Now, there are the router firmware projects OpenWRT and DDWRT which are both Linux-based and offer the functionality I need, to an extent. The issue is that I wish to put this on an x86 machine and use it, not only as a basestation but, also for other, more general purposes. Now OpenWRT and DDWRT have the router functionality, but because they are meant for limited hardware they are stripped of much other functionality.

So I would be looking for a solution that would allow my machine to run as a wireless infrastructure basestation while also doing the following:

  • Bringing in video from an external framegrabber.
  • Encoding this video with x264.

I am looking for any input on what you might think is the most appropriate way to go about something like this.

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Why not install the distro of your choice and set up your wifi interface as an AP? Am I missing something? –  chris Feb 4 '11 at 11:39
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Since you are running this on powerful hardware, I'd recommend you just install the distro you are already most familiar with and take it from there.

Setting up any random distro as a router isn't hard, just install iptables and run

echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
iptables -A POSTROUTING -t nat -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE

Assuming eth0 is the device connected to your router / the internet.

Also, as mentioned by Zeb, you might want to put the AP somewhere which will offer better coverage than behind a computer under a desk. Anyways if you have any other wired devices you're going to need a second NIC in the server.

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Try out this Live CD Linux Router distro.

I would also suggest looking at one of the firewall distros such as Sentry, Monowall etc.

Oops that should be Smoothwall. Some others are IPCop and Devil Linux.

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monowall is 1) based on FreeBSD and 2) even more stripped down than OpenWRT. I don't know Sentry but it seems to be running from a CD image in a ramdisk. –  chris Feb 4 '11 at 11:37
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With the addition of your last two requirements, I'd suggest using CentOS and configure everything per your requirements. Those two requirements would require enough modification to any router/appliance distro to make you go crazy. So yeah, install CentOS, then you can use smoothwall or similar package to simplify your routing setup You can use wireless as one of your interfaces.

Though, might I make a suggestion (that's the point right?) skip adding the wireless card to the server. Throw another NIC in the server, install and setup CentOS w/ smoothwall. Then attach a cheap wireless AP (non router) to the extra NIC. You'll get a lot better result this way. Move the AP to a more logical spot for an AP, behind a computer isn't usually a good place for an antenna and you'll get better performance moving the AP vs just added a longer antenna cable.

Your computer will still manage all the routing, firewalls, DHCP, etc. you just set up your AP's wireless name and channel and you're good to go.

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