n00bs in Trouble

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n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:19 am

First off, I'd like to thank everyone for all of the Linux related help given in my previous post. I've installed Ubuntu 11.04, and I must say that so far I am quite pleased. I'm still learning, but I like it a lot. That said, I'm running into a serious issue. I have a Dell D620 laptop that is several years old. While everything seems to run fine, my wireless card does not. It doesn't even turn on. The computer has a little LED indicator showing if the chip is functioning, but even with the switch turned on, I can't seem to get it to work. Can someone save a sinking gerbil?
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:09 am

Oh, yuck. Sounds like you've run into one of the problematic Broadcom WiFi adapters... lots of people complaining about Linux support on this laptop. Broadcom is not very good about supporting Open Source driver development.

This thread may have a quick fix, but I'm not 100% sure it applies to your situation. This thread may also be relevant, but there's an awful lot of stuff there (much of which will probably be Greek to you).
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 4:50 am

Just in case, I'll ask if you know if the laptop has the standard Intel 3945 wifi card in it or if it has another card.

Threads related to the Intel 3945:

Here are notes on the D620's compatibility with Linux. It includes a link to the instructions to get the Intel 3945 wifi working.

Now, according to this thread, that project is deprecated and the iwlwifi built into Ubuntu should work.

It also looks like this thread steps through the install process.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:44 am

skialex25 wrote:First off, I'd like to thank everyone for all of the Linux related help given in my previous post. I've installed Ubuntu 11.04, and I must say that so far I am quite pleased. I'm still learning, but I like it a lot. That said, I'm running into a serious issue. I have a Dell D620 laptop that is several years old. While everything seems to run fine, my wireless card does not. It doesn't even turn on. The computer has a little LED indicator showing if the chip is functioning, but even with the switch turned on, I can't seem to get it to work. Can someone save a sinking gerbil?


Well, can you provide more information about which wifi card you are using? You can do this: Open up the terminal, and issue the command "lspci" and post the output.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 7:27 am

If this is indeed a Broadcom WiFi, it sounds like you may need to install the b43-fwcutter package, per this page.

The issue is that the Broadcom WiFi adapter requires proprietary firmware to operate properly, which they have opted to make available only as part of the Windows driver. The firmware cannot be legally distributed as part of a Linux distro, hence no out-of-box support. The b43-fwcutter package extracts the firmware from the Windows driver, making it available for use by the Linux driver.

Edit: Per this page you may also need to install the firmware-b43-installer package.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:29 am

These two threads should help, if the NIC is using a Broadcom chipset.

Broadcom STA driver broken after updates today
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1700897

Dell Lattitute D620 wifi not work with ubuntu 11.04
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1749151
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:44 am

As an aside... while things have improved quite a bit over the past couple of years, WiFi is the one area where driver support on Linux can still be a challenge. If you happen to have a WiFi chipset that is well-supported, it "just works". If you don't, then you get the sort of situation outlined in the pages we've been linking in this thread.

Getting problematic WiFi chipsets to work is still possible, but may require a bit of tinkering. Worst case you should be able to use the Windows XP driver using ndiswrapper, but that's a last resort.

Proprietary Windows-only firmware FTL... :evil:
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:53 am

What I'd do is buy an Intel 3945 wireless adapter for ~$20 and install that instead of the crappy Broadcom. $20 is cheap and it's certainly worth whatever time you'll spend getting the Broadcom sort-of working.

http://www.google.com/products/catalog? ... CFwQ8wIwAA
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:34 am

Well, can you provide more information about which wifi card you are using? You can do this: Open up the terminal, and issue the command "lspci" and post the output.


The wireless card is unfortunately from Broadcom: Broadcom Corportation NetXtreme BCM4311 802.11 b/g WLAN...

Guess its time for some tinkering. Anymore advice would certainly be appreciated as well. Thanks.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:53 am

Ok... so I've been trying a few things.

First off, I tried installing wicd per this post here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1491147
Next, I tried the suggestions posted here: http://ubuntuforums.org/showpost.php?p= ... stcount=44

Neither seem to have worked. My wireless card is still not recognized within the OS, and the LED indicator remains off. I checked the WLAN card through BIOS, and it seems to be working just fine... just not in Ubuntu. Once again, the version I have running is 11.04.

Thanks.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:03 am

Try the b43-fwcutter / firmware-b43-installer stuff I linked a few posts back.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:53 am

If you can afford the ~$20, it's really much easier to get an Intel card. Intel has excellent Linux drivers.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:27 pm

Yup, all the laptops I've had with Intel wifi have "just worked" as in turn the switch on the case on, click on the network you want to connect to, enter your password and you are done. From that point on it's always worked and goes on and off with the switch on the side of the laptop.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:25 pm

OT: Unfortunately, replacing wifi cards is becoming harder these days. Many laptop vendors "whitelist" the cards that can be put in. Folks had to flash a modded BIOS to remove the whitelist. In at least one case (HP dm1z) I heard that the BIOS was encrypted in some way and so even modding the BIOS to remove the whitelist wasn't possible. I would prefer if the laptop vendors allowed me to put any wifi card I wished. I dont see what they gain by whitelisting?
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:27 pm

Not a problem in this case. The card I mentioned was the more expensive option when that laptop was new, and in any case I really don't see Dell doing that with their business-oriented line.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:41 pm

codedivine wrote:I dont see what they gain by whitelisting?

Cheaper pricing from the whitelisted vendors.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:23 pm

To all the gerbils and gerbilettes... of the penguin variety...

I'd like to thank you all for helping me get my wireless running... It works!!! Just Brew It's advice did the trick. Thank you very much once again. I may be new at this whole penguin thing, but I'm certainly enjoying it so far.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:43 am

Glad to hear it worked out!

This is also an example of how with Linux, there's often a way to make things work with a little tinkering, even if driver support from the manufacturer is lacking. Contrast with the Windows situation, where if the manufacturer elects to not make a driver available for the version of Windows you're using you're basically SOL.
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Re: n00bs in Trouble

Postposted on Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:20 pm

Oh, hey... just in case I ever need to deal with this situation myself, was b43-fwcutter sufficient, or was firmware-b43-installer needed as well?
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