Wireless networking, when it works, is really neat. No wires, fast
internet connections, and freedom of movement are all very liberating. When
wireless networking doesn't work, or mysteriously looses the RF signal it
is remarkably frustrating - sort of like high tech water torture.
FIC do not normally sell the AquaPad with a 802.11B
PCMCIA card or Access Point, but they did send one over for us to use in this
review (as part of standard developers kit). At our disposal was a very nice Cisco Aironet 350
series WLAN PCMCIA card, and a not so reliable no-name OEM 11Mb Access Point....
or so we thought.
The amount of difficulties we initially experienced with this AP and the AquaPad were pretty
astounding. At first we thought the AP was bust, but after a rather interesting
Kernel upgrade, the problems were entirely resolved. Apparently Midori
Linux V1.0.0 RC1 Build 1022 is just plain full of bugs. I guess that goes to
show you a device is really only as good as the software powering it.
|Just about any type of
WLAN 802.11b Access Point can be used with the AquaPad, but the unit is a
bit more picky when it comes to PCMCIA wireless cards. The following cards
are supported by the AquaPad are; Lucent Agere, Orinoco Silver, Cisco 340
series and Cisco 350 series. In our review, we used the Cisco Aironet 350 series.|
What was so 'interesting" about upgrading
the AquaPad to Midori Linux V1.0.0 RC2 Build 1211 you wonder?
Well, as I mentioned, the AP was giving us a ton of problems. The worst of
which was loosing its link to the Cisco card every 2 minutes or so for no real
reason (the AP and AquaPad were never more than a foot apart, so it wasn't like
the AP was out of range).
To update the OS on the AquaPad, users click on a button in the start
menu entitled "Remote Update" which brings up the screen shown below. The two
update options are 'local' or 'remote.' Local would be used in the event you
physically had the new kernel loaded on a Compact Flash card which was installed
in the port. We used the Remote option because we were updating
the AquaPad's OS over the internet - one of the hallmark features of
Crusoe and its brand of Mobile Linux.
Now, just so no one out there
kills their little magnesium bundle of fun, we are not going to tell you the exact
IP address to use. FIC have asked us to just say "contact your reseller for
appropriate update information," and that is probably the safest thing to
do if you already have an AquaPad.
Our experience performing the online remote update of the
Midori Kernel tested the meaning of "fault proof" to the extreme. Because of the issues
we were experiencing with the AP, the AquaPad lost its network connection 5 times and had
to be restarted in each case. Restarting a computer with half an updated OS
has never been on our list of 'fun' things to do.
Remember, the AquaPad runs on a flash based operating system, so if the
update doesn't work, and somehow corrupts the existing data, you would be pretty
much out of luck.
Luckily for us, the AquaPad has bit of built-in
redundancy, so when it was rebooted it would go back to where the update had
been stopped and continue the kernel download until it was satisfied it had an
uncorrupted piece of data to work with. Some processing went on in the back
ground and finally, after one last reboot we were greeted
with the new Midori Linux
V1.0.0 RC2 Build 1211 desktop. The new build also featured an updated version of the
Mozilla Browser. As if by magic, the issues we had been experiencing with the AP loosing
RF link to the Cisco PCMCIA card were all resolved.