• United States

Linux-based Wi-Fi hot spot on CD

Sep 01, 20042 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsLinuxOpen Source

* Create a Wi-Fi hot spot with a Linux-based gateway on CD

Users looking for an easy way to set up a public Wi-Fi hotspot might find help from an open source project called ZoneCD.

Offered by a group called Public IP, ZoneCD is a CD-based Linux distribution that can turn any PC into a Wi-Fi access gateway for a public hot spot. The gateway runs off of a PC’s CD player, requiring no installation or hardware configuration, according to the software’s developers.

The package seems to be aimed at organizations such as libraries or small retail shops that want to offer controlled wireless Internet access to the public with limited content filtering. Setup is almost foolproof, the software authors say, since the CD-based platform can run on most PCs, requires no technical skills to set up, and is easy to administer.

ZoneCD uses a modified version of the Debian Linux distribution called Koppix, which is designed to run from CD and provides automatic hardware detection and configuration. On top of this platform, Public IP provides features needed to run a secure Wi-Fi public hot spot, such as user authentication, a proxy server, content filtering, DNS caching and DHCP and Web server functionality.

To set up a Wi-Fi hot spot with ZoneCD, users would need an Intel-based PC with two Ethernet ports, a minimum of 128M bytes of memory and a bootable CD-ROM drive. Also needed are a Wi-Fi base station, an Internet connection and a firewall. The ZoneCD box would sit between the Internet router (connected via a LAN port) and the Wi-Fi access point (with the DHCP server on the AP shut off).

A Web interface can be used to administer Public IP Wi-Fi access. Administrators can create, delete and suspend accounts through this interface, as well as configure Web filters and other settings. Since the package is open source software, users can also make modifications to the CD-based code under the GNU General Public License.