I. Introduction

Thanks to the efforts of Hiroshi Noguchi, the Newton can now participate in wireless 802.11b networks. At the moment, only the Lucent WaveLAN turbo silver is supported (see below for exact specs). Direct connections to base stations, access points and hardware wireless routers are not possible. The driver can only connect to other computers with 802.11b hardware installed. You can still get your MessagePad on the Internet wirelessly: just install a software router on the machine you connect to.


1. Ok, how do I get my Newt on the Net wire-free?

You need a computer that is connected to the internet, is equipped with a Wireless LAN interface (802.11b) and can route traffic between the Internet and the wireless network (it will be simply called "Software Base Station" or SBS in the next few paragraphs). As you will use the Wireless LAN interface to connect to your Newton, you can't use it for the connection to the Internet. It will be called "internal interface" in the rest of this document. You need a different interface (the external interface) for the connection to the Internet (second Wireless LAN interface, ethernet, cable modem etc.)

Choose an IP adress for the internal interface of your SBS. If the SBS is directly connected to the internet, will probably work. If your SBS is connected via a router, just make sure that the external and the internal interface are on different subnets. Example: Your router is with subnet mask, so it's on subnet 192.168.0.x. Then 192.168.1.x is a different subnet and would be ok for an internal IP adress.

Set the internal interface to ad-hoc mode and choose channel 3. This procedure is vendor-specific, too, but I'll explain it for the Mac in a some detail. [can someone add a description how to do this in Windows?]

First, you need a Mac with an AirPort card or another 802.11b-compatible card. In MacOS X, only AirPort cards work (there is an Open Source driver for several 802.11b-cards, but it does not support ad-hoc mode yet). On this machine, create a computer-to-computer network.

In Classic MacOS, select "Create network" from the AirPort control strip utility or click the button of the same name in the Airport control strip. Set the channel to 3. Make sure that TCP/IP is set to "Airport".

In MacOS X, select "Create network" from the Airport Icon in the menu bar. Choose channel 3. If there is no Airport Icon in the menu bar, open "Internet Connect" from Applications->Utilities, switch to Airport, view the additional options by clicking on the arrow and select "Create Network" from the Network list.

Install the Wireless LAN card in the Newton. The procedure is similar to the installation of an ethernet card (instructions). Just install the WaveLAN driver instead of an ethernet driver. Choose an IP on the same subnet as the SBS internal interface. If you chose for your SBS, just use, for example. Set the subnet mask accordingly ( in the example) and set the default router to the internal interface of your SBS. If your SBS is running a DNS Forwarder (included in most routing packages, see below), set the DNS server to your SBS as well. If your SBS is running a DHCP server, your Newton can obtain all this information by DHCP.

You should now be able to connect to the SBS from the Newton. Test the connection (list of clients on Steve Weyer's site).

If your SBS is connected to the Internet by a router, you're almost set. Just make sure that the SBS routes traffic between internal and external interface. This is also called IP forwarding. MacOS X and Windows NT/2K/XP can do this out of the box, you just have to make sure that it is activated.

In MacOS X, you can do this with a simple command on the console. Open a terminal window and enter "sudo sysctl -w net.inet.ip.forwarding=1". You will be asked an administrator password. [there should also be GUI tools for this].

[how does this work on windows? I remember that Windows NT had a checkbox to enable IP forwarding]

If your SBS is running Classic MacOS or your SBS is directly connected to the internet, you have to use IP masquerading (set up your SBS as a software router).

Classic MacOS doesn't come with this functionality. You have to buy third-party software, for example IPNetRouter or SurfDoubler. [Add instructions how to set these up?]

Windows 98/2K/XP come with an Internet Connection sharing package [How was it called again? Are there other dree Software routers for Windows?].

For OS X, refer to this document.

2. I want to transfer data to/from my Mac. How do I proceed?

This is pretty straightforward: If you want to use the Newton Connection Utilities, just make sure that AppleTalk is set to Airport and that the NCUs are set to AppleTalk. Check out these step-by-step instructions. Activate AppleTalk in the wireless driver on the Newton.

You can also use TCP/IP. See next question.

3. I want to transfer data to/from my Windows PC. How do I proceed?

You can't use any of the Newton utilities, because the Windows version only supports serial connections. The technique for the Mac described above relies on AppleTalk, which is generally not available in Windows. If you have AppleTalk installed (on Windows NT/2K server, for example), it still won't work, as the Newton utilities simply don't support it. Emulators will not help either: Neither AppleTalk nor AirPort is supported in Mac emulators. There are Linux utilities for ethernet transfers, but it may be tricky to get them to cooperate with the 802.11b-card.

You can transfer data by TCP/IP, though. First, you have to set your 802.11-card to ad-hoc mode. Refer to the documentation that came with the card. Use channel 3.

After you've made the connection, you have several options:


1. Which models of Wireless Cards are supported on the Newton?

Only one model at the moment: The Lucent WaveLAN Turbo Silver, Revision or P/N 012372A. This card is based on the Prism chipset, which is quite common. Adopting the driver to other cards which use this chipset should be possible, but at the moment you'd better stick the WaveLAN turbo silver. It is currently available cheap from Other World computing .

2. I can't connect to my Apple Airport Base station / xyzzy access point!

Direct connections to hardware base stations are not supported yet. You can only connect to other computers. More specifically, the current drivers are limited to connections in ad-hoc demo mode on channel 3.

3. Which models of Wireless Cards can I connect to with the Newton?

Any model should work, as long as you can set it to ad hoc demo mode. This is possible for most cards out there, including Apple's Airport cards.

4. Which packages do I have to install on my MP?

The NIE 2.0 and Hiroshi Noguchi's WaveLAN drivers.

5. Where can I get the drivers?

From Hiroshi Noguchi's site or from the UNNA [are these packages identical?]

6. Which Newton models can I use?

As Hiroshi's driver relies on OS 2.1 and NIE 2.0, it will only work on the MP20x0 and the eMate 300.

7. Are there other options for wireless connections?

Yes. The DynaCOMM Roamer (which uses a proprietary protocol) works out of the box in NOS 2.0. It's incompatible to NOS 2.1, though. For more information, refer to the Newton FAQ, question IIB2c.

Wireless modems (long distance, expensive) may also work (if you can still find a service provider). You may also connect a cellphone. Details in the FAQ.

8. I want to help with the driver. Where can I get the source? Who is currently working on it?

[is it available? can't find it on Hiroshi's web site. Should we include contact information?]

9. I want to support your development efforts, what do you need?

[Wireless LAN interfaces, access points, Macs with serial ports for debugging etc.]

IV. Links

Newton FAQ
Newton Ethernet FAQ
Newton Connection FAQ
Driver Labo, Hiroshi Noguchi's site

V. Version history

03-07-2002: First draft.