For a long time on Windows, it has been possible to use a wireless networking adapter to share an Internet connection with other computers. Usually this is done by setting up a “hotspot,” or “ad-hoc” style network, broadcasted directly from the wireless networking adapter. It’s very easy to do, and it’s a killer feature that a lot of Windows users like.
On Linux, broadcasting a hotspot hasn’t always been easy. Until recently, users had to manually enter the command line, bridge adapters together, set up IPtables, etc. In newer versions of Ubuntu (and Network manager), however, making shareable connections via hotspots can be done as easily as it can be done on other operating systems.
Creating the Hotspot
The first step is to create a new wireless network. Go to the “Wireless Connection” menu, find “Edit connections” and select it. This brings up the “Network Connections” window. Create the new connection by clicking “Add.”
This action asks the user to “Choose a connection type.” Click the drop-down list, find “Wi-Fi” and select the “Create” button.
From here, the user has to fill out several settings to make this a wireless hotspot. To start, enter “Ubuntu Wi-Fi Hotspot” into the SSID area. Naming the hotspot makes it easier for other users on the network to correctly identify what network to connect to.
Next, find the mode drop-down selection menu, and locate “Hotspot.” Selecting these hotspot settings makes automatically sharing a wireless network connection easy. In the past, Ubuntu users needed to set up an ad-hoc network, install
dnsmasq, and bridge connections together. A tedious process, to say the least.
Followed by “Mode” is “Band.” This setting lets the wireless network broadcast on different frequencies. There are two options: 5Ghz and 2Ghz mode. The 5Ghz (A) connection mode allows for faster download speeds but with a shorter connecting range. Users should select this option if they already know it is possible to connect to 5Ghz connections on the laptop that is being used to set up this hotspot. If not, select 2Ghz (B/G) mode in the “Band” drop-down.
The last setting to be tweaked so that this hotspot can be accessed is “Device.” This area tells the hotspot network which device it should use to broadcast. Using the drop-down menu, select your wireless chip. To start broadcasting, click the “Save” button.
It should be noted that the hotspot WILL NOT WORK unless you have a cable connection that has Internet to share via the network. The hotspot tool will automatically detect a wired connection and share it over the WiFi hotspot. Unfortunately, most wireless networking chips cannot connect to two wireless networks at a time.
The self-broadcasted wireless hotspot solution works in a pinch and can get users out of tight spots when a wireless router isn’t present. The technology here on Linux is very useful; however, it has limits because of the nature of most wireless chips in modern computers. When laptop WiFi chips (and USB dongles) start making it standard to connect to more than one network at a time, sharing connections via hotspots will only get better. Till then, this is the best of a bad situation.
Do you know of any WiFi hotspot tricks on Ubuntu? Tell us below!