[colug-432] Wi-Spy and Linux support for obscure hardware

Rob Funk rfunk at funknet.net
Thu Aug 11 14:40:25 EDT 2011

As someone who's been a 99.9% Linux user for the past 15 or so years, it 
quickly became instinctive to assume that I should just ignore those cool 
unusual hardware devices that rely on special software to make use of them.

It's long past time to stop thinking that way, and I'm very happy about that.

At work I primarily use Linux, but I also keep a MacBook handy since everyone 
else in the company uses Macs, and it's good to be able to see what they see. 
I also keep an XP partition on my Thinkpad for those rare Windows requirements 
that aren't satisfied by VirtualBox.

Lately I've been trying to diagnose some wifi problems, and I started 
wondering if there might be radio interference that my phone's simple wifi 
detector (Wifi Analyzer, which is a really handy Android app) can't show me. I 
really can't afford the thousands of dollars that a standalone spectrum 
analyzer costs, but I found that Micro Center sells a couple $100-$200 "Wi-
Spy" USB-connected 2.4GHz spectrum analyzers, with software for Windows and 
Mac. I decided I was willing to give it a try on the Mac, so I picked up one 
of the cheaper ones.

The point of all this is my great discovery today, that there's already 
support for this available in Linux, and at least on Ubuntu it's a simple 
"sudo apt-get install spectools" away. And it's pretty cool too.

Now I'm wondering if I should've gotten the more expensive scanner for better 
sensitivity and frequency resolution.....

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