MediaLink 802.11g Wireless USB Adapter
The MediaLink MWN-USB54G looks like most other USB 2.0 WiFi adapters with it just being a bit larger than the size of a normal USB flash drive and with a cap to protect the USB 2.0 connection. There is a LED on the side for indicating network activity, but the plastic cover is colored grey. One side of the wireless network adapter mentions that it is a MediaLink MWN-USB45G and supports 54Mbps transfers. On the backside printed on labels is the MAC address as well as the product's serial number. A large warranty sticker covers the side of the network adapter to prevent it from being opened -- at least without voiding your warranty.
What happened when the MediaLink MWN-USB54G was inserted into a system running Ubuntu 9.04? It worked immediately "out of the box" with the Linux 2.6.28 kernel. The USB wireless adapter was immediately detected as a RaLink Technology RT2501USB wireless adapter. The rt2500usb Linux driver, which has been in the mainline kernel since Linux 2.6.24 kernel, was automatically loaded. This MediaLink wireless adapter bearing the RT2501USB chipset had no problems connecting to open networks as well as 802.11g networks protected by WPA and WEP.
In testing out this wireless adapter it was ran at distances ranging from five meters to thirty meters (and separated by interior walls) from the 802.11g router used during testing. We ran into no issues with the RaLink driver or with the hardware itself with slow transfer speeds, the connection randomly dropping out, or other such issues. The only small glitch that was encountered thus far was the wireless network(s) not being detected when the MWN-USB54G was connected to a USB 2.0 port when the test system had booted. When disconnecting and then reconnecting the wireless adapter, the wireless networks were easily found within NetworkManager. However, this bug has since been corrected in the upstream driver and had not encountered this problem with Ubuntu 9.10 and the Linux 2.6.31 kernel.
The MediaLink MWN-USB54G 802.11g USB wireless adapter costs around $30 USD (available at Amazon.com), which really is priced quite well compared to other USB 2.0 network adapters. However, this adapter does not have an external antenna or any other special features. So far this 802.11g adapter is working out for the needs mentioned in the introduction, and I am left happy with the purchase. While some RaLink wireless ASICs are notorious under Linux, the RaLink RT2501 chipset with the rt2500usb kernel driver had no problems we encountered. If looking for an inexpensive yet function wireless adapter that will run well with Linux and aren't need of connecting to wireless networks a great distance away (where a larger, external antenna would be ideal), the MediaLink MWN-USB54G is a candidate worth considering.
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