If you have ever tried to get wireless internet on a computer running Linux, you know it can be rather frustrating. Although with special nerdy tricks, a number of the cards on the market can be made to work, many don’t, and many are more trouble than they are worth. It is easy to get frustrated, but there are adapters that work right out of the box. If you already have a network adapter and don’t want to buy another, it is likely that that you will be able to make that work, too.
The reason so many network cards don’t work with Linux is that their manufacturers do not release their specifications. They are not friendly to the open source project, and want their products only to work with paid operating systems like Windows and Mac OS. Some manufacturers, however, release their specifications, and some crafty Linux people have figured out the specifications for others. Those have native Linux drivers, which means that of your adapter does not work strait out of the box, it will be a simple matter to install the driver. A card like this is the way to go if you don’t already have one. Of course, it will work with Windows and Mac too, find more.
If you have a card without a native Linux driver, don’t despair. There is a program called ndiswrapper that will enable you to use the Windows driver. Download and install it, (it is available from SourceForge, but all you should have to do is to set your repositories correctly) and download the driver for your card. Find a detailed description of exactly how to make your card work. For most cards, it is simply a matter of setting up ndiswrapper, installing your Windows driver, and loading ndiswrapper onto the computer such that it runs in the background. This operation does require some knowledge of Linux command line interface, but with a little common sense and a helpful web page, you should be fine.
If you don’t already have a network card, you are in luck. If you want a USB adapter, look online for the D-Link DWL-G122. Make sure it is of hardware revision B1 or C1. If you want a PC card version, try the D-Link DWL-650. Both should be available under $50. Both cards should work right out of the box. If you have an older version of linux, you will want to install a package of wireless tools, so you can control the adapter without resorting to command lines. With one of these, it should work just like a wireless adapter would on a Windows computer. Good luck, and don’t be discouraged from Linux.
Note: I have no affiliation with D-Link, and am recommending these products only from my knowledge of Linux and my personal experience.