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I'm running an Ubuntu 14.04 server. For an experiment I'm running I have the following requirements:

-Receive data from multiple (3-4) wireless networks.

-Machines on a network will only need to speak to the server, never a machine on a different network.

-All networks will be entirely wireless with no internet access.

I haven't done much networking, so any leads are welcome. I don't think I need to bridge the networks. Can I just attach several wifi adapters and hardcode them each to a different network? Can I create virtual adapters and have those simultaneously connect to different networks? Thanks in advance.

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It sounds like you want to set Linux up as a wireless access point. You can do this either with multiple physical wireless NICs or one single NIC.

If you've ever used a wifi router with a "guest network" feature, it is typically providing multiple wireless networks over a single physical wifi radio set. That is, it advertises multiple SSIDs over the same physical medium.

It's probably easier to put multiple wifi adapters on a single system, but now you've got multiple competing radios in close proximity. There are only 3 non-overlapping channels in most wifi schemes, so if you have 4+ adapters on the same computer, they will be competing with each other for radio bandwidth. Even with only 3, it means you're trying to crowd out all the other radios nearby.

A better reason for multiple radios on a single WAP is to provide noncontiguous services, such as 5 GHz 802.11n and 2.4 GHz 802.11g.

  • Could work - I would need to turn the existing routers into relays to reach the machines. The routers are actually Verizon mobile hotspots so not sure if that functionality is permitted. It's a pretty odd, specific context. Thanks! – James H Jul 14 '15 at 15:53
  • @JamesH: Such a feature, if it exists, is usually called "bridge mode," which turns the device into a media translator: from wifi to CDMA and back, in this case. This feature defeats the NAT, DHCP, and DNS caching features of the hotspot device, so that the Verizon-side IP appears on the wifi side, just as if your computer were directly connected to the Verizon CDMA data network. However, I don't think you can use one of these hotspots to talk to all three networks simultaneously, as you can with plain wifi. – Warren Young Jul 15 '15 at 13:11

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