Wi-FI card support using Linux VM?



  • I'm very sad about almost desperate situation with wireless hardware support.

    I do know many suggest to buy a dedicated access point or wireless router that can work as access point, but honestly this is far from perfect setup in my opinion, I'd like to have a single box and control/upgrade everything at single place.

    What I think can be done in this regard is to use virtualization to overcome drivers limitation.

    Imagine following:

    • minimal Linux distributive with wide variety of supported wireless cards and an external API (HTTP or something) to control AP(s) settings
    • virtual network between pfSense host and Linux VM
    • passthrough USB or PCIe Wi-Fi card to Linux VM
    • Linux VM creates a bridge between wireless cart and virtual network
    • pfSense controls the rest using virtual network adapter

    I don't know if this was discussed before, but it seems to be a viable option for the cases where there is no pfSense/FreeBSD support for Wi-Fi adapters. It is also should be much easier to implement than writing drivers and might be a solution at least in mid term. It shouldn't also be very expensive in terms of CPU/RAM, I think even one VM per Wi-Fi adapter could be fine.



  • OpenWRT

    most of the atheros chipset wifi cards will work there no issue whatsoever.



  • @remlei:

    OpenWRT

    most of the atheros chipset wifi cards will work there no issue whatsoever.

    OpenWRT doesn't seem to be maintained very well, to me it even looks to be abandoned.
    Also PCIe cards are only part of the story. For instance, my mini-ITX motherboard only have 1 PCIe x1 slot (already occupied by Intel NIC) and no mini-PCIe. But I have enough USB 3.0 ports and would like to use them for 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapters. I doubt OpenWRT will work with any of them.



  • really? there's a recent updated lately which is DD (designated driver) and if you want the most updated version, there's also LEDE you can rely on which is just a fork of openwrt to be honest.


  • Rebel Alliance Global Moderator

    " I'd like to have a single box and control/upgrade everything at single place."

    So you have your "box" mounted in your ceiling for good wifi coverage?  It is almost never a case where your "router" is correctly placed for the best wifi coverage.. With real AP you can add as many as you need for best coverage and properly place them and use of POE makes it easy with no need to mount them where there is power available..  So you want 1 box for convenience vs actually good wifi ;)

    Spend the couple of $ and get real AP, going to work out of the box no need for if your router distro has driver support.  Going to give you best speed and features for your wifi.  And ability to easy expand your coverage area.  Use current tech, wifi uplinks, full mesh, support for current wifi stuff like ATF, DFS channels - the list just goes on and on..

    Other than some desire to have 1 box your limiting yourself and causing yourself grief vs ease of setup and control and features and actually good wifi ;)



  • @johnpoz:

    " I'd like to have a single box and control/upgrade everything at single place."

    So you have your "box" mounted in your ceiling for good wifi coverage?  It is almost never a case where your "router" is correctly placed for the best wifi coverage.. With real AP you can add as many as you need for best coverage and properly place them and use of POE makes it easy with no need to mount them where there is power available..  So you want 1 box for convenience vs actually good wifi ;)

    Spend the couple of $ and get real AP, going to work out of the box no need for if your router distro has driver support.  Going to give you best speed and features for your wifi.  And ability to easy expand your coverage area.  Use current tech, wifi uplinks, full mesh, support for current wifi stuff like ATF, DFS channels - the list just goes on and on..

    Other than some desire to have 1 box your limiting yourself and causing yourself grief vs ease of setup and control and features and actually good wifi ;)

    My area is small enough so that I can put AP literally anywhere and it will work just fine. All you've said is nice, but I don't need it. All I need is as few separate devices as possible (one), as fast connection as possible (2x2 MIMO or better), open software stack and reasonably low price. The only thing I'm lacking currenty is Wi-Fi speed, everything else is very good.


  • Rebel Alliance Global Moderator

    Well good luck then.  Seems stupid to me.. for Like $80 all your problems go away and you have great wifi, and zero effort in getting it up and running.  Tape the thing to the top of your router if you want 1 box ;)



  • @remlei:

    really? there's a recent updated lately which is DD (designated driver) and if you want the most updated version, there's also LEDE you can rely on which is just a fork of openwrt to be honest.

    Played with LEDE in VMs (works fine), will be installing it alongside pfSense on top of Alpine Linux with KVM. I hoped for easier setup, but looks like this is what I'll end up with.