A friend of mine, was recently having some trouble finding a wireless signal at an airport, and asked what tools were available for his Vista laptop.
Since he travels frequently, I suggested that the next time he had real Ethernet connection to download NetStumbler, to help him locate wireless Access Points (APs).
He did, but was unable to get it to work on his Vista machine.
At the time, NetStumbler had always enjoyed a good reputation for be a great free utility, and a ‘Must have application’ for any techies involved with wireless networking, so I was a little surprised to hear there were issues.
Wanting to help my friend out, and felling bad about giving him a poor recommendation, I did some searching, and found MetaGeek’s inSSIDer.
inSSIDer is a free Open Source software utility, that also supports an array of additional paid products that could be an inexpensive alternative to commercial products such as Fluke Networks’ AirMagnet.
After inSSIDer installed and launched, the first thing that one notices, especially coming from NetStumbler environment, is that the graphs are in color, which is invaluable when trying to figure out multiple sources of signals.
This is not to say that color is the best part of inSSIDer, but it also uses the native Wi-Fi API to group ‘clients’ by MAC Address, SSID, Channel, RSSI as well as “Time Last Seen”. Since inSSIDer also supports GPS devices, this can very extremely valuable when mapping a wireless network environment.
Bottom line –
If you are looking for a very useful wireless network discovery tool that is free, then I would suggest that you look no further then inSSIDer.
inSSIDer was also the 2008 winner of InfoWorld’s “Best of Open Source“.