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devices on Windows computers. To that end, we explain how to set up and
configure the wireless network interface adapter in each of your computers
(and other wireless devices) so that they can communicate with the access
point (AP) and with one another. Finally, we also include special coverage for
installing and configuring wireless network adapters in computers running
Windows XP (it™s amazingly easy) and in handheld computers running
Microsoft Pocket PC 2002.

Read through Chapter 6 for information about physically installing APs, and
see Chapter 8 for a discussion of setting up a Mac-based wireless network.
And if you find yourself lost in the acronyms, check out Chapter 2 for the
background on this equipment.

Setting Up Wireless Network
Interface Adapters
After you have the AP successfully installed and configured (see Chapter 6),
you™re ready to install and set up a wireless network interface adapter in each
client device. Wireless network adapters all require the same information to
be installed, although the installation on different platforms might differ to
some degree. From most manufacturers, the initial setup procedure differs
somewhat depending on the operating system that is running your computer.
118 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network

In this section, we walk you through installing device drivers and client
software before addressing the typical setup procedure for various wireless
network interface adapters.

If you™re using Windows XP, you can also set up your wireless network inter-
face adapter by using Windows XP™s built-in support for wireless networking.
Refer to the “Windows XP™s Wireless Zero Configuration” section, later in this
chapter, for more information.

The installation procedure for most types of PC devices consists of insta-
lling the hardware (the device) in your computer and then letting Windows
detect the device and prompt you to supply a driver disk or CD. With most
wireless network adapters, however, it is important to install the software
that is provided with the wireless networking hardware before installing the
hardware. This ensures that the setup software can examine your computer™s
hardware, software, network, and Internet settings before you have installed
any wireless hardware.

Installing device drivers and
client software
Whenever you install an electronic device in your Windows PC, including a
wireless network interface adapter, Windows needs to know certain informa-
tion about how to communicate with the device. This information is a device
driver. When you install a wireless network adapter, depending on which ver-
sion of Windows you™re using, you might be prompted to provide the neces-
sary device driver. Device driver files typically accompany each wireless
networking device on an accompanying CD-ROM. Most wireless device manu-
facturers also make the most up-to-date device driver files available for free
download from their technical support Web sites.

When you install the wireless adapter into your computer, Windows uses the
device driver file(s) to add the adapter into your computer™s hardware configu-
ration. The new network adapter™s driver also must be configured properly in
order for it to communicate with other computers over the Windows network.

Even if you receive a driver CD with your wireless network interface adapter,
we still recommend checking the manufacturer™s Web site for the most recent
software. Wireless networking technology is still evolving, so keeping up with
the changes is paramount. For example, to address the security flaws in WEP
(which we talk about in Chapter 10), different security (or encryption) proto-
cols are becoming available or will soon be available. For example, as we dis-
cuss in Chapter 10, a new system called WPA will soon be available. To take
advantage of this, you need to download the newest driver software as well
as the newest firmware, which is the special software that resides in the flash
memory on your network adapter and which enables it to do its job.
Chapter 7: Setting Up Your Windows PCs for Wireless Networking

The exact procedure for installing the drivers and software for the wireless
network adapters varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so read the doc-
umentation that accompanies the product that you are installing before you
begin. Although the details might differ from the instructions that accompany
your product, the general procedure is as follows:

Because antivirus programs often mistake installation activity for virus activ-
ity, shut down any antivirus programs that you might have running on your
PC before you begin any installation of software or hardware. (And remember
to turn it back on when you™re done!)

1. Insert the CD that accompanies the wireless network adapter into the
CD-ROM drive.
If the CD™s startup program doesn™t automatically begin, choose Start➪
Run or use Windows Explorer to run the Setup.exe program on the CD.
2. Install the software for configuring the network adapter by following
the instructions on your screen.
Typically, you™ll be following along with an installation wizard program.
Do not insert the network adapter until prompted to do so by the instal-
lation software (see Figure 7-1). In some cases, you might be prompted
to restart the computer before inserting the adapter. For some older ver-
sions of Windows, you will be prompted to insert your Windows CD in
order for the setup program to copy needed networking files.

Figure 7-1:
adapter until
prompted by
the setup

Because you installed the wireless network adapter™s drivers and configu-
ration software prior to inserting the adapter, the operating system should
be able to automatically locate the driver and enable the new adapter.
120 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network

Note: If Windows can™t find the driver, it might start the Found New
Hardware (or Add/Remove Hardware, or even New Hardware ” it
depends on which OS you™re using) Wizard. If this does happen, don™t
panic. You can direct Windows to search the CD-ROM for the drivers
that it needs, and they should install without issues (although you might
have to reboot again).
After you insert or install your wireless network adapter (and restart the
computer, if prompted to do so), you will be prompted to configure the
new adapter.
3. At a minimum, you need to make sure that the following settings
match those of your network™s wireless AP:
• SSID (network name or network ID): Most wireless network
adapter configuration programs will display a list of wireless net-
works that are in range of your adapter. In most instances, you will
see only one SSID listed. If you see more than one, that means one
(or more) of your neighbors also have a wireless network that is
close enough for your wireless adapter to “see.” Of course, that
means that your neighbor™s wireless adapter can see your network,
too. This is one good reason to give your wireless network a
unique SSID (network name), and it™s also a compelling reason to
use encryption.
• WEP key: Enter the same key that you entered in the AP™s
After you configure the wireless network adapter, the setup program
might announce that it needs to reboot the computer. Newer versions of
Windows, such as Windows XP, don™t have to reboot.
One of the common applications installed with a wireless adapter is a
bandwidth monitor. This is a very handy tool used to debug problems
and inform you of connection issues. Almost all these tools are graphical
in nature and can help you determine the strength of the signal to your
AP device as well as the distance that you can travel away from the
device before the signal becomes too weak to maintain a connection.

PC Cards and mini-PCI cards
Most wireless network adapters are PC Cards. Nearly all Windows laptops
and some Mac laptop computers have PC Card ports that are compatible
with these cards. The hottest new wireless (draft) standard, IEEE 802.11g,
however, is available on some platforms (notably, the Apple Macintosh) only
on mini-PCI cards capable of transmitting data at speeds that are faster than
the PC Cards are capable of handling. IEEE 802.11g interfaces will come on
mini-PCI cards or standard size PC Cards. The Apple AirPort Extreme (draft)
IEEE 802.11g wireless adapter, for example, comes only in a mini-PCI version
Chapter 7: Setting Up Your Windows PCs for Wireless Networking

that will not install in most older Macs. Nevertheless, Linksys, NETGEAR,
D-Link, and others offer an IEEE 802.11g PC Card wireless network interface
adapter. In the future, most such devices will come pre-installed in computers.

The installation procedure for most types of PC Cards, peripherals (such as
modems), and wired network cards consists of plugging the card into the PC
Card slot and supplying a driver disk or CD when prompted to do so. With
most PC Card wireless network adapters, however, installing the software dri-
vers before inserting the PC Card for the first time is important. Doing so
ensures that the correct driver is present on the computer when the operating
system recognizes that you™ve inserted a PC Card. Installing the drivers first
also ensures that you can configure the software when you install the device.

If you™re installing a PC Card in a Windows-based computer with a PC Card
slot, use the following general guidelines but don™t forget to refer to the docu-
mentation that comes with the card for detailed instructions. (Refer to
Chapter 8 if you are a Mac user.)

Even if you received a CD with the PC Card, checking the manufacturer™s Web
site for the most recent drivers and client station software is a good idea.
Wireless networking technology is still evolving, so we recommend that you
keep up with the changes. For example, to address the security flaws in WEP, a
new version of the encryption protocol is available from some manufacturers.

1. Insert the CD that accompanies the PC Card into the CD-ROM drive.
If the setup program doesn™t automatically start, choose Start➪Run (in
Windows) or open Windows Explorer to run the Setup.exe program on
the CD.
2. Install the wireless client software.
During this installation, you might be asked to indicate the following:
• Whether you want the PC Card set to infrastructure (AP) mode or
to ad hoc (peer-to-peer) mode. Choose infrastructure mode to
communicate through the AP. We talk about the difference between
infrastructure and ad hoc modes in Chapter 2.
• The SSID (network name).
• Whether you will use a network password (which is the same as
WEP encryption).
3. After the wireless station software is installed, restart the computer.
4. While the computer restarts, insert the PC Card wireless network
adapter into the available PC Card slot.
Windows 95/98/Me/2000 are Plug and Play-compliant, so they should
recognize that you have inserted a new device in the PC Card slot and
will automatically search the hard disk for the driver.
122 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network

Windows XP comes with generic drivers for many wireless PC cards to
make installation much simpler than ever before. Some newer PC Cards,
which are made specifically for XP, have no software included, relying on
XP to take care of it. Even so, we recommend that you follow the direc-
tions that come with your PC Card and check whether your card is com-
patible with XP. Later in this chapter, we discuss XP™s Net Zero configuration
tools, which provide software for many XP-compliant and noncompliant
When Windows finds the driver, it will enable the driver for the card, and
you™re finished.

Wireless network interface adapter manufacturers periodically post software
on their Web sites that you can use to update the firmware (software that™s
stored in the circuitry and chips inside the card). In most cases, firmware
updates address-specific hardware or software issues. If you aren™t aware of a
problem with the card or an important new feature that you need, you should
probably leave well enough alone. However, if you like to stay on the cutting
edge, we suggest that you regularly check the manufacturer™s Web site for

Compact Flash cards
Some Pocket PCs have optional attachments that make it possible to add PC
Card devices. Most Pocket PC manufacturers provide either standard or
optional support for add-on cards built to the Compact Flash (CF) form
factor. We cover CF cards in more detail in Chapter 2.

Installing a wireless network interface adapter in a Pocket PC is about as easy
as it gets (we show you how in a moment), but configuring the device so that
you can both synchronize with your PC and use your Pocket PC to access the
Internet can be a little tricky (and we show you that later in this chapter).

The installation procedure varies in precise detail from manufacturer to man-
ufacturer, but you can follow these general steps:

1. Install the software that came with the Compact Flash (CF) card and
then insert the CF card into the CF slot in your Pocket PC when
prompted to do so.
2. Connect the Pocket PC to the desktop or laptop PC that you plan to
use to configure your Pocket PC.
This step usually involves placing the Pocket PC in the cradle that™s
attached by a cable to your desktop or laptop computer, just like you do
when you™re synchronizing your calendar.
Chapter 7: Setting Up Your Windows PCs for Wireless Networking

3. Insert the setup CD that came with the wireless network interface
CF card into your computer™s CD-ROM drive.
If the setup software doesn™t run automatically, choose Start➪Run (in
Windows) or open Windows Explorer to start it.
4. Install the software by following the onscreen instructions.
If prompted to choose between infrastructure mode and ad hoc mode,
choose infrastructure mode (which is the mode that causes your CF
card to talk to the AP) rather than directly to other wireless devices (ad
hoc mode).
5. When prompted to enter the network name or SSID, enter the name


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