In the past, I have given Sputnik Inc. rave reviews for an outstanding wireless product here at Lockergnome. And in addition, I have watched with mixed feelings as they release more variations of essentially the same product – wifi access for businesses, community areas, etc. Their latest efforts with the SputnikNet(TM) Express project leave me confused as to how they have not picked up on a much more lucrative market that would literally dwarf that of competing for hotspot providers in a stone cold minute.
Quick quiz: What is the single biggest hassle when taking a Linux compatible wifi card and attempting to connect to your router? Anyone? If you said getting it to work with WPA, you would be right. Access to WPA is the single biggest hassle when trying to get people to take their notebook PCs and switch to Ubuntu. But my family runs a bookstore that uses the Sputnik WAP and you know something, coupled closely with WiFi Radar or NetworkManager, establishing a SECURE connection to their wireless network is a snap – with any Linux distro.
Now consider this: If Sputnik simply created a their product, offered the Device and User Database options, kept the client isolation intact, blocked private network while limiting the number of notebooks that can join the network at any given time (to keep Sputnik’s costs down, they would have a brand new business model on their hands.
How much would they be able to charge? Because I am talking about a stripped down version of their captive portal setup, I would as always, provide it for free, in addition to offering access to the Sputnik Control Center server with limited functionality for $10 a month. This would allow their users to expand their wireless networking needs on a progressive pricing scale. $3 per additional user after the first three, perhaps?
Now for the real question: Is this truly providing security for wireless home users working off of Linux? It’s very secure and in my opinion, makes the need for WPA an unneeded hassle for typical home networks. Because you control the access to the WAP itself, each connected notebook is secured with client isolation, the need for WPA is really silly considering that all the data going back and forth on the ‘net is unsecured anyhow. Your real concern is having your neighbor running a porn server off your WLAN, not him intercepting your unencrypted data, which is accessible once it hits ‘the Internet cloud’ anyway.
So what do you say Sputnik? You know that with Dell selling Ubuntu PCs and notebooks, offering something like this is WAY overdue. That, and you would single handedly own the Linux home router market overnight. The decision seems fairly obvious to me.