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Old 02-22-2009, 04:48 PM   #1
jdruin
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Registered: Jul 2003
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What caused ath5k driver to disappear and wireless networking to stop?


A while back I installed the ath5k drivers package which got my wireless working on my Toshiba laptop with Atheros wireless. This worked great. My wireless started working immediately and never had any issues.

One day my wireless networking died (for what appeared to be no particular reason) so I started searching for answers. Eventually I found a website that said an upgrade was removing the ath5k drivers from machines and I had to install "linux-backports-modules". I used

sudo aptitude linux-backports-modules

This failed as aptitude said their was no such package. However aptitude did say linux-backports-modules-intrepid was available. I installed this with

sudo aptitude linux-backports-modules-intrepid

and rebooted. This did fix my wireless.

As much as that would seem to be satisfactory, this is actually where my questions start.

Why would an "upgrade" purposely remove a driver I was using? Anyone smart enough to put out upgrade packages would know this would cripple my machine instantaneously. Why would they do this?

Is there a better or more modern driver I can use for an Atheros wireless card? If so how would I safely upgrade?

What exactly did I do when I installed the linux-backports-modules-intrepid? I know it fixed my machine but I am not sure why.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 09:58 AM   #2
andrew22
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What upgrade removes ath5k? you didnt tell us. As for linux-backports-modules-intrepid that contains some module upgrades and ath5k. As for another driver, not recommended,. You can use ath_pci, but you nedd to do this after each kernel upgrade:
Code:
 cd (ath_pci source)
make clean
make 
make install
Thats annoying.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 01:26 PM   #3
jdruin
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I have to admit I dont know what upgrade specifically. Coming from Windows, I use Ubuntu's built in update program. I have it set to alert me when updates are available. When alerted, I look at the list of items and usually let it do all the updates. Sometimes there might be an item that I will skip (drivers for example), but I am not sure how to check my update history to find the culprit.

Thanks for the info on the backports. I guess what you are saying is that the backport put the driver back where it was originally and that is all there is to learn from this.

Concerning ath_pci, I actaully have that blacklisted in /etc/modules or something like that. I like the ath5k driver anyway. It has been excellent. If there is nothing better, I am happy to use it. I just wish that upgrade had not wiped it out.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 01:46 PM   #4
b0uncer
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If you don't know the upgrade that "did the trick", it's hard to say why exactly it removed your ath5k driver, but I assume it's because it was a manually done upgrade and not an "official" one; I've found that sometimes drivers installed manually, rather than from the official reposities, get me into fancy situations where different driver versions start competing (last time was with a hsdpa modem). It would be nice to know what exactly happened, but there's not much to do about it now..

Ubuntu 8.10 release notes say this
Quote:
The version of the ath5k driver for Atheros wireless devices included in Linux 2.6.27 interferes with the use of the madwifi driver for some wireless devices and as a result has been disabled by default. Many Atheros chipsets will work correctly with the madwifi driver, but some newer chipsets may not, and the madwifi driver may not work with WPA authentication. If you have an Atheros device that does not work with madwifi, you will want to install the linux-backports-modules-intrepid-generic package, which includes an updated version of the ath5k driver. While not installed by default, this linux-backports-modules-intrepid-generic package is included on the Ubuntu 8.10 CD and DVD images for ease of installation.
I noticed that when a newly bought laptop didn't connect to a wireless network even though Ubuntu claimed it had a driver enabled for Atheros cards; that specific card was probably then exactly what those release notes said -- too new Anyway, after doing as told (backports) the problem was gone. Maybe they'll fix it in the coming releases; it's always a trouble when there are more than one driver for a given type of hardware, and when not all generations of that hardware work with one driver.

I used to accept most of the Ubuntu upgrades that way too, quickly viewing the list and then letting them go. After some issues with graphics card drivers, though, I've started to keep back such "critical" piece of hardware driver updates if things work, until there's a sane reason (and knowledge that it won't break anything) to update.

Last edited by b0uncer; 02-23-2009 at 01:50 PM.
 
Old 02-23-2009, 02:06 PM   #5
jdruin
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Thanks b0uncer. I think that explains exactly what happened. I bet one of the updates put things "back the way they should be" and I had to override this behavior by reinstalling the ath5k driver.

I do remember trying to uninstall and reinstall the ath5k but being unable to because "mac80211" was running. I think this underlying layer is used by both ath5k and madwifi, so maybe my upgrade put madwidi in control. Unfortuneately I am too new to Linux to know how to check for all that, but that would make sense.

I guess a "backport" is code that updates recently released code? I am still not clear on exactly what a backport is in the context of Ubuntu. I read the wiki definition but this does nto seem to apply.
 
Old 02-24-2009, 06:16 AM   #6
b0uncer
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Here's information about Ubuntu Backports, basically it's a reposity that offers (some) newer package versions than in the usual reposities. Personally I don't have a need to get the latest version of everything right after they have been released, as long as the versions I have work well, and so I don't usually like adding extra reposities. Backports I've used only few times, mostly because of driver issues (just like this), but still I rather use Ubuntu's own backports than some "third-party" reposity or a single got-it-somewhere-I-don't-remember package. Compiling (drivers) is one option too, but with Ubuntu it's a little tricky business, as it usually means that automatic upgrading becomes a pain then..and that's exactly what Ubuntu is good at (when I want to do it all by myself, I deal with BLFS).
 
  


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