Tips and Tricks to Get the Most out of Your Linux WiFi

Regardless of your operating system, wireless can sometimes be a headache. Either you drop a signal, your wireless connections flakes out, your connection is slow, or your wireless device winds up MIA. Either way, there are times you’ll wind up having to troubleshoot or tinker to get the most out of that connection.
Everyone using Linux knows that wireless problems aren’t limited to our favorite open source platform. As with printers, all operating systems can succumb to the woes of wireless. Fortunately, with Linux, there are plenty of ways to prevent or fix the problems.
For those that like to eke out the most power and functionality from their system, I will provide a few tips and tricks specific to wireless connectivity. Hopefully, one of these tips will be exactly what you need to get the most out of your own wireless connection.
I will be demonstrating these tips using Ubuntu GNOME 15.10 and elementary OS Freya. If you’re using a different distribution, you’ll only need to make minor alterations to the command structure for this to work (such as, su’ing to root instead of using sudo).

Increase Wireless Signal Strength

Believe it or not, you can actually strengthen the signal of your wireless card. It’s not very hard, but it does require the use of the command line. What this tip does is increase the TX (or transmit) power of your wireless card. For those that don’t know, the TX power is the broadcasting power of your transmitting antenna. Typically, the TX power is set to 20 dBm, but can be set to significantly higher values. Here’s what you need to do:
  1. Open up a terminal window
  2. Issue the command ifconfig
  3. Determine the name of your wireless card (mine is wlp4s0)
  4. Install wavemon with the command sudo apt-get install wavemon
  5. Run the wavemon command and notate the TX value under Statistics
  6. Bring your wireless connection down with the command ifconfig wlp4s0 down
  7. Set the wireless regional setting to Bolivia (where they allow the use of 1000 mW tx-power) with the command iw reg set BO
  8. Bring the wireless connection back up with the command sudo ifconfig wlp4s0 up
  9. Rerun the wavemon command and take note of the TX value
After switching the regional setting on my card, the TX value saw a significant increase. Check out the values of the post-configured TX settings (see Figure 1 above).
There are some caveats to setting such a high TX:
  • You might find your wireless card getting a bit too hot, which can lead to data errors
  • Excessive power usage, which can heat up the board surrounding the wireless chip
If you start seeing errors associated with wireless, or your machine reboots or shuts down for no reason, you should set the TX power to a lower setting. If that’s the case, you can always set a specific TX rating with a command like:

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