Need advice: whether to flash DLink DWL-520

James B. Hiller jhiller at
Mon Aug 11 11:15:12 EDT 2003


Been searching around this list and other related ones off and on for
about a month, and have yet to run into a clear answer as to under
what conditions a DWL-520 flash (volatile or non-volatile) should be
accomplished.  Am new in wireless, so please be kind :-)

My environment:

Machine A - linux-2.4.21 on an older Tyan SMP (dual processor) PPro
board.  This machine is set up to be my WAP and router.  I have
a DWL-520 in it, and it seems to generally be working ok with
hostap-0.0.4 and wireless-tools.26.  The kernel is compiled by me,
monolithically except for the hostap modules.  Just for giggles,
I also compiled in the Prism 2.5 driver available with the kernel.

I have IP masquerading and firewalling set up.  No broadband
connection, just pppd for a regular dialup.  Yesterday I moved several
gigabytes of files from this machine to B, C, and D below via ftp,
and also between the windows machines (B and C) using Win networking.

Generally all ok - the Win networking seems to move files more slowly
than ftp (go figure), and after many gigabytes moved from this
machine to the other linux box (D) using ftp, something plugged up,
but not worried about that right now.  Using the DLink utility on
machines B and C below, saw that basic ftp was moving files at
about 5 Mbps, which seems fine to me.

Machines B, C - Each running Win98, to be served/supported by
machine A, and interoperable with Machine D which runs both linux
(primarily) and Win2000 (when needed).  Each running with a
DLink DWL-520+, since I don't have to care about Prism in these

Machine D - Newer Tyan SMP (dual) running AMD Palomino 1.2 CPUs.
Running linux-2.4.21, compiled monolithically, with Prism 2.5 support
compiled in.  At this moment, have a Zcomax XI-626 PCI WLAN card in
it (also Prism 2.5), but plan to send that back and get another
DLink DWL-520 (cost of Zcomax cards seems not warranted, little/no
evident signal strength, quality, or throughput.  Good external
antennas, though - keeping those).

The DWL-520 in Machine A performing the host function has:

NIC ID=x8013 v1.0.0
PRI ID=x15 v1.0.5
STA ID=x1f v1.3.4

So my questions are:

a.  Is there a good reason to upgrade the firmware on this card
serving as the host AP/router?  If so, to which versions, using
which tool, available where (firmware and tool)?  Should I do only
the volatile, and if so, would I need to do the non-volatile to get
to a version which supports non-volatile?  If the answers to these
questions are already elaborated, pointers are fine.  I've seen
a number of pieces/parts, just not sure of the direct answer/decision

b.  Is there a good reason to upgrade the firmware on the DWL-520 that
will be here this week to go into my Machine D?  Don't know until it
arrives whether it will be same versions of stuff, but expect it
will, as it's coming from the same vendor as the first, just a few
weeks later (probably has a single block of cards).

c.  Should I be compiling the Prism 2.5 kernel driver into the kernel
on the host ap machine as I've been doing, should I not be, or does
it not matter?

d.  Believe I should continue compiling the Prism 2.5 kernel driver
into the kernel on Machine D, otherwise there would be no support
for the card, but just want to verify.

e.  Is there a reason I should go with the Zcomax cards in either
Machine A or D (if so, I won't send them back)?  So far, I've not
witnessed a performance/functionality improvement, other than
the fact that when I ran the Zcomax card in the host AP machine
for a few hours to play with it, I noticed it had slightly newer
firmware (1.3.5/1.1.0, I believe).

f.  Are there any other questions I should be asking?  I have no
desire to go to linux-wlan-ng driver unless someone says I should,
instead of kernel driver for the Prism chipset.



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