Running Fedora 16 (i686). The computer came with an internal USB wireless device "0db0:6877 Micro Star International RT2573". This has worked with kernels up to 3.3 (currently using 3.3.8-1).
With a 3.4 or higher kernel, it still works when I do a warm reboot from the 3.3 kernel. But if I boot from cold, NetworkManager says "wireless is disabled by hardware switch".
$ rfkill list
0: phy0: Wireless LAN
Soft blocked: no
Hard blocked: yes
(And rfkill won't let me unblock it.)
I downloaded some other kernel versions from Koji, and these four all gave the same behaviour:
I'm also trying to use a better external USB wireless device (RT2870), that seems to require the 3.4 or higher kernel. It works only when the internal one is working. From a cold boot, rfkill says that only one of the devices is blocked; but NetworkManager says that both of them are "disabled by hardware switch". It makes no difference whether I boot up with the external one attached, or plug it in afterwards.
Any ideas for what I can try here? Extra reboots are a nuisance, and the 3.3 kernel probably won't be around any more after an upgrade.
(This post is not about my own computer, so I might be a little slow to post the results of your suggestions.)