What antennae works with Linux?

So, I am looking into building my all in one box for home. This is, a linux mini server that will handle every aspect related to my home networking.

One aspect is the wireless infrastructure. What hardware may I look for that will act as an antennae for my server? The requirements would be:

- Good coverage (an area of around 200m2 is a must, 900m2 would be optimal)
- As few intelligence built into it as possible (must not be an AP acting as repeater or something similar)
- Doesn't have to be just 1, if I can connect multiple of these antennas to achieve maximum coverage, thats fine too
- Linux (Centos 7) compatible

The idea behind this setup, is that I  want to regain as much control over my network as possible. Eventually, I would like that mini server to become the DSL Modem, I just haven't figured out that part.

For now I just need to resolve how to provide perfect wireless connectivity without adding an AP to the mix.

Thoughts?
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José MéndezAsked:
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Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
The antenna itself isn't connected to the operating system.  So, you can use anything you believe is adequate as far as coverage is concerned.  You may well want to have a wireless NIC that has an antenna *connector* so you can choose the antenna and/or connect an antenna with a short low-loss coaxial cable.

Much depends on how that 900m2 is populated with obstructions including vertical aspects (floors and ceilings).  But that's not a Linux issue.  It's only about a 15 meter radius so that isn't too bad.  But, in that distance you might have 3 walls to go through and that could be an issue depending on the walls and the antenna.

If the space is flat, then you might use a relatively large high-gain vertical antenna to get the energy / beam pattern / as flat as possible.  If the antenna is going to be in a corner of the space then the radius may be larger but then you can use an antenna that's directional in the horizontal.
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José MéndezAuthor Commented:
Appreciate the fast response.

Good observation on the type of space to be covered. The initial 200m2 are my house, which involves 2-4 brick walls as the server would be located in a corner of the house, my office space. The rest of the space are the green areas around the house, so no walls there.
 
I guess I'm looking for a recommendation on the hardware that may be used for this setup. I haven't found which antennas can be hooked up to a PC the way access points can be connected to a Cisco WLAN controller for example. The nice thing  about a WLANC is that you leverage an Ethernet network to provide the interface between the antenna and the "brains", you may literally run very long with the distance between each other. That type of integration to a Linux box would be awesome. Don't know what kind of hardware would do the job =S
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gheistCommented:
Hard to tell unless you measure yourself through 4 walls. If they have tinfoil covered heat insulation or steel reinforcement it may not go through.
Any card that runs with latest Linux kernel is CentOS 7 compatible - see http://elrepo.org/
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Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
The issue for connecting isn't the antenna, it's the wireless interface on the PC.  Some PC wireless interfaces have coaxial connectors for antennas/antenna cables and others have only built-in antennas.  You need the former to have flexibility.

Here is a link to a picture of a USB wireless interface with detachable antenna.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/150M-USB-WiFi-Wireless-LAN-Adapter-w-Antenna-Raspberry-Pi-2-ralink-rt5370-SHUS/261948783106?_trksid=p2141725.c100338.m3726&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20141212152715%26meid%3Dd39a8f09035b4f6182d886087c089578%26pid%3D100338%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D29%26sd%3D261561868698

Here's a picture of a pcie card with detachable antennas.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833166108ies

So, those are the possibilities regarding the type of interface configuration; but you will want to assure the Linux compatibility for whatever you decide to use.

Since you're in a corner, you may want to consider an antenna that's directional in the horizontal plane such as a Hawking HAI15SC.  You may need a connector adapter to connect to a particular wifi interface on the PC but likely not.  You just replace the little antenna that comes with the interface and connect the cable from the Hawking.  Then aim the Hawking into the middle of the area to be covered.

There are lots of antenna configurations that can work but this is one of the simplest to use.

Another thing to consider is a powerline extender pair.  The far end can either be Ethernet OR Ethernet/WiFi combined.  If coverage is a real issue then this can be a far superior solution - rather like running cable.
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José MéndezAuthor Commented:
Ok, I understand the thing about interfacing the wireless to the PC. Got that.

1- Now, what if I wanted the antenna to be placed at the center of the house to cover  a circular area including the house and most of the green areas, what type of antenna woud that  be? Horizontal?

2- The Hawkin device you shared is specified at 15dBi, should the PCI card be as powerful as the antenna?

3- I did not understand your last paragraph:

Another thing to consider is a powerline extender pair.  The far end can either be Ethernet OR Ethernet/WiFi combined.  If coverage is a real issue then this can be a far superior solution - rather like running cable.

Thank you
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gheistCommented:
1. Omni-directional antenna suits your purpose.

2. that is amplification. In US you must turn transmit power down for that. i.e 20dBm limit = 5dBm card + 15dBm antenna) , in EU it extends range since licenced power output is 100mW

3. That is if you do not have other cabling than power and think of buying wifi extender device - wired attached extra access point is better.
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Fred MarshallPrincipalCommented:
1) In order for the antenna pattern to cover in the horizontal plane, the antenna would typically be vertical.

2) The antenna has no "power" as such, it simply radiates the power from the interface device.  The 15dbi is antenna gain over an omnidirectional (i.e. spherical) antenna pattern.  If you direct the energy in a narrower beam then most of the energy goes there.

3) A powerline extender uses the mains power wires in the house to communicate.  You just plug the modules in where you want them.  One needs to plug into the router or the existing network with Ethernet cable.  The other can be anywhere.  So, it acts like Ethernet in that it has Ethernet ports at both ends.  And, if it has wireless combined then like an Ethernet cable to a wireless access point.
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