September 3, 2016
I have found the very best type of external wireless adapter for use with Linux that doesn’t use up a slot on your motherboard. You can be skeptical if you want. Allow me to convince you. Since it won’t be an internal adapter, this kind of adapter can be used for both laptop and desktop systems, pretty much regardless of operating system.
The perfect adapter is not only operating-system-neutral, it is also browser-neutral (for the most part) and also chipset-neutral. Since it is chipset-neutral, you do not need to buy a micro-sized USB wireless adapter or a bigger USB adapter with a big, bold antenna. No, these will not occupy the spot of the Perfect External Wireless Adapter. These inferior items require a careful balance of cooperative software to work. Unfortunately, software is rarely cooperative, so those adapters have a tendency to not work.
So what does one need to obtain the perfect external wireless adapter? It needs to use standard external ports, either full USB or RJ45 networking ports, and it needs to have self-contained software. Obviously, it needs the wireless networking radio as well. Finally, it needs to have a self-contained administration/configuration webpage and the ability to serve as a wireless client adapter, connecting to a wireless access point, and provide the network data through the standard connection to the terminal computer.
May I present: a standard portable router with client adapter capability, as the perfect external wireless adapter.
In this case, the brand is TRENDnet, but it could be any portable router, as long as it has the right capabilities. I, myself, use a TD-Link brand portable router for the job.
How to use it? Switch to client adapter mode. In the case of the linked portable router above, that mode is called “WISP” mode. In my TD-Link router, the mode is called “Client Mode”. Bottom line: It needs to connect to a wireless access point with its wireless networking radio, and pass the internet data through to the data cable connection. The built-in web admin page is where you connect to the wireless access point and set passwords and that sort of thing.
Naturally, you will want to change all the passwords on your router in its admin/config pages, to avoid any hijacking attempts. Furthermore, if you only have a USB port available, not a network port, you’ll want to get a simple USB RJ45 adapter.