Ethereal is the standard open source network analyzer. Like the proprietary analyzers, it supports a long list of protocols and can capture live data from a variety of network interfaces. Unlike the proprietary analyzers, Ethereal comes complete with a slogan ("Sniffing the glue that holds the Internet together").
Ethereal runs on most Unix platforms as well as Windows. Source code is freely available for both, but modifications are easier to make on Unix because of the availability of free compilers for the Unix programming environment. Like many open source projects, Ethereal is distributed under the terms of the GNU Public License. Protocol decodes are included for many common networking protocols. For the purpose of this section, the important protocols are IEEE 802.11 and LLC, both of which are used on every 802.11 frame. Of course, the TCP/IP suite is included as well.
For 802.11 network analysis with Ethereal, Linux is the platform of choice. The linux-wlan-ng driver can be modified to feed raw 802.11 packets to Ethereal, and Ethereal can be modified to decode them in real time. For data capture on Linux, only Intersil-based cards are supported. Of course, Intersil cards can be used to monitor any 802.11 network, including those that use other chipsets.
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