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Old 12-28-2004, 07:55 PM   #1
mgmcc
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Registered: Dec 2004
Distribution: Suse
Posts: 20

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noob: no wireless range


Running Suse 9.1 on a Toshiba Satellite A75-S229 laptop, dual boot with XP. Install was mercifully easy, but something is whack about the networking. The wireless works as long as I... a) connect an ethernet cable when booting (I can disconnect later) and b) am practically sitting on top of my router (it's about a foot away at the moment). In XP, I can go anywhere in the house with the wireless and receive a strong signal.

I've searched and googled for days, and can't seem to find any discussion of this. Any help would be sincerely appreciated.

This is what ifconfig puts out at the moment:

ath0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:11:F5:03:CF:E2
inet addr:192.168.2.8 Bcast:255.255.255.255 Mask:255.255.255.0
inet6 addr: fe80::211:f5ff:fe03:cfe2/64 Scope:Link
UP BROADCAST NOTRAILERS RUNNING MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1
RX packets:25478 errors:1350 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:1350
TX packets:4005 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:199
RX bytes:3149669 (3.0 Mb) TX bytes:650147 (634.9 Kb)
Interrupt:18 Memory:f9aa0000-f9ab0000

eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:02:3F:D8:C7:00
inet6 addr: fe80::202:3fff:fed8:c700/64 Scope:Link
UP BROADCAST NOTRAILERS MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1
RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:47 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:0 (0.0 b) TX bytes:24650 (24.0 Kb)
Interrupt:19 Base address:0xc800

lo Link encap:Local Loopback
inet addr:127.0.0.1 Mask:255.0.0.0
inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host
UP LOOPBACK RUNNING MTU:16436 Metric:1
RX packets:62 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:62 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
RX bytes:4012 (3.9 Kb) TX bytes:4012 (3.9 Kb)

iwconfig looks like this:

lo no wireless extensions.

ath0 IEEE 802.11 ESSID:"WLAN" Nickname:"linux"
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.462GHz Access Point: 00:30:BD:C2:54:C8
Bit Rate:11Mb/s Tx-Power:off Sensitivity=0/3
Retry:off RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Encryption key:off
Power Management:off
Link Quality:74/94 Signal level:-21 dBm Noise level:-95 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0
Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0

eth0 no wireless extensions.

sit0 no wireless extensions.
 
Old 01-02-2005, 03:19 PM   #2
kcox920
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That's an interesting problem. Can you post the output of "lsmod" and "lspci"?
Are you running any encryption with the wireless hardware?

I just got my A75-S229 setup a couple days ago and haven't experienced anything similar with the Wifi. But then again I'm using www.archlinux.org. Have you had any luck getting the media reader running?






P.S. No dual boot here, I'll be runnin vmware soon!

Last edited by kcox920; 01-02-2005 at 03:25 PM.
 
Old 01-02-2005, 04:49 PM   #3
mgmcc
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Distribution: Suse
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No, not using any encryption (or if I am, it's news to me). Also no, I haven't tried getting the reader to work (don't have a use for it). The requested output follows. Thanks for having a look! By the way, I slogged my way through screens and forums, and eventually figured out how to disable eth0 on boot, so I no longer have to be plugged in to get the wireless to work. But this didn't help with the range problem. To help me learn, could you explain what it is that you're "looking for" by asking for the output of these two commands?

Module Size Used by
edd 10648 0
joydev 11200 0
st 41500 0
sd_mod 21632 0
sr_mod 17188 0
scsi_mod 114372 3 st,sd_mod,sr_mod
ide_cd 39300 0
usbserial 32752 0
cdrom 39452 2 sr_mod,ide_cd
nvram 10248 0
parport_pc 37824 1
lp 12164 0
parport 41032 2 parport_pc,lp
snd_seq_oss 35328 0
snd_seq_midi_event 8960 1 snd_seq_oss
snd_seq 61968 5 snd_seq_oss,snd_seq_midi_event
snd_seq_device 9608 2 snd_seq_oss,snd_seq
snd_pcm_oss 61860 0
ipv6 270980 15
snd_mixer_oss 21248 1 snd_pcm_oss
thermal 13320 0
processor 17408 1 thermal
fan 4868 0
button 6928 0
battery 9476 0
ac 5764 0
snd_atiixp 19364 4
snd_ac97_codec 64644 1 snd_atiixp
snd_pcm 109444 2 snd_pcm_oss,snd_atiixp
snd_timer 28804 2 snd_seq,snd_pcm
snd 65892 19 snd_seq_oss,snd_seq_midi_event,snd_seq,snd_seq_
device,snd_pcm_oss,snd_mixer_oss,snd_atiixp,snd_ac97_codec,snd_pcm,snd_timer
soundcore 10336 1 snd
snd_page_alloc 12548 2 snd_atiixp,snd_pcm
af_packet 22920 0
8139too 25344 0
mii 6272 1 8139too
ds 18692 2
hid 44224 0
yenta_socket 16768 0
pcmcia_core 64580 2 ds,yenta_socket
ath_pci 41252 0
wlan 60328 2 ath_pci
ath_hal 130128 2 ath_pci
ohci1394 33284 0
ieee1394 106424 1 ohci1394
ati_agp 9484 1
agpgart 30764 1 ati_agp
ehci_hcd 29444 0
ohci_hcd 21124 0
usbcore 106204 6 usbserial,hid,ehci_hcd,ohci_hcd
evdev 10752 0
subfs 8832 1
nls_utf8 3072 2
ntfs 90956 2
dm_mod 54144 0
reiserfs 251984 1

0000:00:00.0 Host bridge: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 5831 (rev 02)
0000:00:01.0 PCI bridge: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 5838
0000:00:13.0 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 4347 (rev 01)
0000:00:13.1 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 4348 (rev 01)
0000:00:13.2 USB Controller: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 4345 (rev 01)
0000:00:14.0 SMBus: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 4353 (rev 18)
0000:00:14.1 IDE interface: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 4349
0000:00:14.3 ISA bridge: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 434c
0000:00:14.4 PCI bridge: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 4342
0000:00:14.5 Multimedia audio controller: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 4341
0000:00:14.6 Modem: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 434d (rev 01)
0000:01:05.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc: Unknown device 5835
0000:02:00.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments TSB43AB21 IEEE-1394a-2000 Controller (PHY/Link)
0000:02:02.0 Ethernet controller: Unknown device 168c:0013 (rev 01)
0000:02:03.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 10)
0000:02:04.0 CardBus bridge: ENE Technology Inc: Unknown device 1411
0000:02:04.1 FLASH memory: ENE Technology Inc: Unknown device 0530
0000:02:04.2 Class 0805: ENE Technology Inc: Unknown device 0550
0000:02:04.3 FLASH memory: ENE Technology Inc: Unknown device 0520
 
Old 01-03-2005, 08:44 PM   #4
kcox920
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Registered: Sep 2003
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Hey, for a second I forgot I am 1/2 an electrical engineer. Anyway I was looking at your iwconfig output in comparison to mine. My signal is actually WORSE than yours considering the relative noise lever and the signal level.

Mine:
ath0 IEEE 802.11g ESSID:"BigPimpin"
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.437 GHz Access Point: 00:06:25:F4:2B:53
Bit Rate:11 Mb/s Tx-Power:50 dBm Sensitivity=0/3
Retry:off RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Encryption key:off
Power Management:off
Link Quality=34/94 Signal level=-61 dBm Noise level=-95 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:1527173 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0
Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:2


yours:
ath0 IEEE 802.11 ESSID:"WLAN" Nickname:"linux"
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.462GHz Access Point: 00:30:BD:C2:54:C8
Bit Rate:11Mb/s Tx-Power:off Sensitivity=0/3
Retry:off RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Encryption key:off
Power Management:off
Link Quality:74/94 Signal level:-21 dBm Noise level:-95 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0
Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0


Looking at the "Link Quality:74/94 Signal level:-21 dBm Noise level:-95 dBm" basically means the Noise level is at -95dB and the Access point (Router) is at -21dB. Thats waaaay above the noise level so your signal is fine and it should be good to go. If you look at mine with a Signal Level of -61dB it is much worse. However, I'm typing this over my wireless connection now just fine. Hmmm, I guess the next step would be for you to go where the signal starts to get weird and then show the output of "iwconfig". If the signal is still good there then we know it is the driver. (although you say the windows one works fine).

Another thing you can post is the output of "iwconfig -v". I would like to see what version of the wireless tools you have. Hopefully we can get you going better with linux and you won't need that silly dual boot stuff!


P.S. "lspci" shows me everything your kernel sees on the pci bus. I just wanted to be sure of the hardware. Comparing it to mine we have exactly the same. "lsmod" shows all the current modules (drivers) presently loaded into your kernel. This was so I could check for which driver you were using. It appears you are using the madwifi driver as I see the module "ath_pci" and "ath_hal" in your module list (madwifi.sourceforge.net/)
 
Old 01-04-2005, 07:34 AM   #5
mgmcc
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Registered: Dec 2004
Distribution: Suse
Posts: 20

Original Poster
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Thanks for the reply. 1/2 electrical engineer? Hmm... that may be the problem... I'm 1/2 geologist, and it's seriously interfering with my ability to think like an EE. Keep in mind that's the signal I get when I'm sitting, literally, right next to the router. In fact, even at that range last night it "degraded" to the point where I could no longer use it. Pages got slower and slower, and eventually stopped loading altogether. I tried stopping ath0 and restarting, but it never would come back up. I tried to reboot, but my system wouldn't shut down, so I had to do it the hard way. Don't know if that's useful information or not.

When I get home tonight I'll progressively increase the distance and post the iwconfig as you suggested. And, unfortunately, I can't get away from the dual boot until I can find a solid replacement for Visio (I haven't had time to look yet... is there such a thing? I need the UML and database modeling tools). Thanks again.
 
Old 01-05-2005, 06:20 PM   #6
mgmcc
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Distribution: Suse
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Well, here's a bunch of output. I can see the link quality dropping off, but I'm still utterly clueless... if it's just a matter of signal strength, wouldn't Windows have the same issue?

Wireless Tools:
iwconfig Wireless-Tools version 27
Compatible with Wireless Extension v11 to v16.

Kernel Currently compiled with Wireless Extension v16.

ath0 Recommend Wireless Extension v13 or later,
Currently compiled with Wireless Extension v16.

Range test results with distance from router:
--------- Approx 25', different floor ------------------------
was able to get an ip address this time, but that's a first,
and the signal quickly became unusable (I couldn't post
this message from there)
--------------------------------------------------------------

ath0 IEEE 802.11 ESSID:"WLAN" Nickname:"linux"
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.462GHz Access Point: 00:30:BD:C2:54:C8
Bit Rate:11Mb/s Tx-Power:off Sensitivity=0/3
Retry:off RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Encryption key:off
Power Management:off
Link Quality:31/94 Signal level:-64 dBm Noise level:-95 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0
Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0


--------- Approx 40', different room -------------------------
cannot get ip address
--------------------------------------------------------------
ath0 IEEE 802.11 ESSID:"WLAN" Nickname:"linux"
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.462GHz Access Point: 00:30:BD:C2:54:C8
Bit Rate:1Mb/s Tx-Power:off Sensitivity=0/3
Retry:off RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Encryption key:off
Power Management:off
Link Quality:25/94 Signal level:-70 dBm Noise level:-95 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0
Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0


--------- Approx 30', line of sight to router ----------------
can get ip address
--------------------------------------------------------------
ath0 IEEE 802.11 ESSID:"WLAN" Nickname:"linux"
Mode:Managed Frequency:2.462GHz Access Point: 00:30:BD:C2:54:C8
Bit Rate:11Mb/s Tx-Power:off Sensitivity=0/3
Retry:off RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Encryption key:off
Power Management:off
Link Quality:40/94 Signal level:-55 dBm Noise level:-95 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0
Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0
 
Old 01-11-2005, 09:38 AM   #7
minrich
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mgmcc

just an observation: your Tx-Power:off whereas kcox920 shows Tx-Power:50 dBm I am not even 1/4 EE but it occurs to me that this is not as it should be!

HTH
 
Old 01-11-2005, 11:31 AM   #8
mgmcc
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Hmm... good eyes! I just spent some time on the web trying to decipher this txpower parameter. I can find a description of what it is, but I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to do about it.

iwconfig ath0 txpower auto? or on? or some wattage? I guess I'll try setting it to "on" and see what happens!
 
Old 01-11-2005, 07:17 PM   #9
mgmcc
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I used iwconfig ath0 txpower on, and now iwconfig displays Tx-Power:50 dBm, but that had no effect. I also played around with setting the access point parameter back and forth between auto and off, also with no effect. And I tried setting the sensitivity parameter to the noise level (iwconfig ath0 sens -95), but I don't see where that is "doing anything" - sensitivity still shows 0/3. I can't get an IP address unless I'm within 30' of the router and in direct line-of-sight.

Any other suggestions? Is this a driver issue? If so, how do I update a driver in Linux? Thanks for any ideas.
 
Old 01-11-2005, 07:59 PM   #10
minrich
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IIRC if you open YAST there should be an update option.

HTH
 
Old 01-11-2005, 08:34 PM   #11
kcox920
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Although I have not done any significant range testing, the other night when setting up NFS I was having some serious synchronozation issues. It was bad enough I had to go via ethernet to the router so I could mount my other NFS drives. I assume this is due to the driver having issues as well, but I'll have to investigate further.

I noticed you fixed the txpower option. I would have thought that to do the trick.......


Checking over my wireless tools info:

iwconfig Wireless-Tools version 27
Compatible with Wireless Extension v11 to v17.

Kernel Currently compiled with Wireless Extension v17.

ath0 Recommend Wireless Extension v13 or later,
Currently compiled with Wireless Extension v17.




I notice I am using V17 of the wireless extensions, and my kernel is compiled with V17. Looks like it's time to update your kernel, or wait for Suse to update it. Well you're going to need to download the kernel source for the latest stable kernel from http://www.kernel.org. Wow, should we talk you through compilation/install or send you to the WIKI? I kind of feel the WIKI or www.tldp.org or other posts on this fine site would do you a better service in this department. My explaination would be a shadowy copy of many excellent ones available.

Hopefully SuSe has an updated kernel for you to just download and install as a binary. This would be the easiest option. Can you give us the output of "uname -a" for your current kernel version?

I'm currently using 2.6.10

Last edited by kcox920; 01-11-2005 at 08:40 PM.
 
Old 01-12-2005, 07:49 AM   #12
mgmcc
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Output of uname -a

2.6.5-7.111.19-smp #1 SMP Fri Dec 10 15:10:58 UTC 2004 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

Upgrade the kernel? Yikes. That sounds fairly imposing for a newbie! I've reached the point where I'm actually doing real work with this install, so I need to tread carefully here.
 
Old 01-12-2005, 05:10 PM   #13
kcox920
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Being a newbie and all the easiest approach is probably just to go with a distribution that has the most features and a more up to date kernel. IMHO that would be either Fedora or Mandrake. Mandrake claims to have easy setup for wireless (http://www.mandrakesoft.com/products/101), but I haven't used Mandrake's wireless setup yet. I'm sure Fedora has something similar.


Of course updating the kernel isn't that bad ir you want to do it. The problem is that if you have the free version on Suse they don't even have a compiler!!!! (I have it on my work AMD-64 laptop, temporarily). The linux kernel is just one file in the "/boot" named "vmlinuz*". There are two other important files too, "system.map" and "initrd*". In anycase another distro will probably be the easiest for the time being.


Now what would really be interesting is if Suse has that graphic card working, I can't get the DRI to work!
 
Old 01-13-2005, 07:21 AM   #14
mgmcc
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I finally stumbled across a similar thread (apologies - don't have the link) where the poster noted that Windows was showing a stronger signal or better reception than Linux on the same box. The solution appears to be setting the sensitivity level up - which makes sense, but I can't seem to get it change.

I've tried to do this two ways, from a terminal as root, both while ath0 was up and down:

iwconfig ath0 sens -80
iwconfig ath0 sens 3

But my sensitivity continues to show 0/3. I've read and re-read the man page, and still can't figure out what am I doing wrong. Thanks for any help!
 
Old 04-23-2005, 03:03 PM   #15
kcox920
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Well just looking throught the man page for iwconfig:

" For each device which supports wireless extensions, iwconfig will
display the name of the MAC protocol used (name of device for pro-
prietary protocols), the ESSID (Network Name), the NWID, the fre-
quency (or channel), the sensitivity, the mode of operation, the
Access Point address, the bit-rate the RTS threshold, the fragmen-
tation threshold, the encryption key and the power management set-
tings (depending on availability).

The parameters displayed have the same meaning and values as the
parameter you can set, please refer to the previous part for a
detailed explanation of them.
Some parameters are only displayed in short/abreviated form (such
as encryption). You may use iwlist(8) to get all the details.
Some parameters have two modes (such as bitrate). If the value is
prefixed by `=', it means that the parameter is fixed and forced
to that value, if it is prefixed by `:', the parameter is in auto-
matic mode and the current value is shown (and may change)."

So apparently the parameters prefixed with a "=" are already set and cannot be changed. I haven't tryed but maybe there is a way to reload the ath0 driver with configuration options?
 
  


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