If you want to offer wireless Internet access to your customers or to safely share your connection with your roommates or neighbors, there is an affordable way to a simple--or advanced--Wi-Fi hotspot. The Linux and open source community offers several different solutions, from live CDs (ZoneCD) to firmware replacements (DD-WRT & CoovaAP) for wireless routers.
If you want to offer free Wi-Fi access and have some spare time, you shouldn't have to invest more than an old computer or router. In this two-part tutorial, we'll explore the CoovaAP firmware and its hosted services. In this part, we'll discover how to turn that mundane router into a hotspot gateway, set up the captive portal with different registration modes, and configure bandwidth limiting. In the next part, we'll examine Coova hosted services and see how you can offer secure WPA/WPA2 access to your hotspot users.