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Why does Wi-Fi have to be such a pain in Linux?

Posted 12-20-2010 at 09:40 AM by ichase

I have read that this has been an ongoing issue in the Linux community. With a number of tools out there that will supposedly correct this, IE Ndiswrapper, WICD, WIFI Radar etc; you would think that this would be something that would work right out of the box. Heck, who is not using WiFi these days. (I know, there are some of you that are not....It's a rhetorical statement) Now I understand about proprietary hardware most in which is designed for use in W!nd0w$ so will not be recognized in Linux but with all the aforementioned tools available, I feel it should recognize WiFi out of the box. Just my opinion.
I installed Ultimate Edition 2.8 this weekend. Essentially this is Ubuntu 10.10 with a different look and feel. Now I would have expected a Ubuntu OS to at least find the WiFi without much hassle. But alas, it is not recognized. Mint Julia had the exact same issue. Never did get that working prior to the lappy it was installed on, falling 2 stories to its death on the concrete below. (That’s another story) WiFi DEFINITELY did not work after that. Come to think of it…….Nothing else did either.
Now explain to me this, I ran my Parted Magic live CD (if you do not have this I HIGHLY encourage you to get it. It is a MUST for any geek) Parted Magic is based on an Independent distro Parted Magic it loads into RAM and ejects the CD. I had the wireless recognized and configured in 5 minutes. In case you were wondering lscpi –vnn returns:
Broadcom Corporation BCM4318 [AirForce One 54g] 802.11g Wireless LAN Controller [14e4:4318] (rev 02)
This is actually one of the most popular controllers out there. Now how in the heck can a Live CD based on an Indy distro recognize the wireless controller but a distro based on the most highly recognized Linux distro out there can’t? With source code being open and all, maybe these other distros can have a look at parted magic and see what it is they are doing to recognize WiFi so easily. (It also recognized a PMCIA card with no issue as well)
I will no doubt get it working. I am a new Linux user who has A LOT to learn. I guess by looking at the glass half full, I will realize that I will become quite knowledgeable when this is all said and done in regards to setting up WiFi in Linux.
This is what Linux is all about right? Constantly learning and except for the cost of a measly blank CD, it can be done for next to nothing out of your pocket. 

Merry Christmas everyone!!! May 2011 be a wonderful year for all of you!!!!
All the best,

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  1. Old Comment
    Unfortunately, wifi is just one of those types of devices that does not have a large base of good developers haking up drivers for you. Additionally, some wireless manufactures do not supply Linux Drivers.

    Also, some devices require 'firmware' to be loaded into the device when it is powered on. Linux OSes, especially popular ones, can not always include this firmware because it's a binary blob that is generally copyright protected and therefor not 'free'.

    To assume that popular devices should work under Linux, because it's a 'simple task' to support it, is getting cocky.

    Are you going to complain about Nvidia and ATI not working to their fullest potential out of the box? These drivers are also binary blobs that can not or should not be included with any Linux distribution.
    Posted 12-20-2010 at 07:56 PM by lumak lumak is offline
  2. Old Comment
    To assume that popular devices should work under Linux, because it's a 'simple task' to support it, is getting cocky.
    I would certainly not say it's cocky at all. You failed to answer the one question I originally posted. The ability is already there. Parted Magic is run on a live CD, it loads itself into RAM then ejects the CD. It's an awesome tool, but is still based on the Linux kernel via an independent distro. If this independent distro is able to run this proprietary piece of hardware with no one complaining about it, and not to mention pretty much effortlessly, then one would think that the other open source distrobutions would be able to as well.
    I certainly do not see that as being cocky as much as I see it as simple common sense?

    Yes, this all boils down to a firmware issue. If you can get your hands on the correct firmware and run it correctly you MIGHT get your wireless working.

    ATI and Nvidia actually work fairly well out of the box in most distros.... At least they did for me. I've run on a rig with Nvidia using Mandriva 2010.0 KDE and it worked great. The current lappy is running ATI Video (UE 2.8) and I have yet to see a hickup.

    All the best,

    Posted 12-21-2010 at 07:19 AM by ichase ichase is offline
  3. Old Comment
    LOL, I had the same exact card, and the same exact trouble getting it to work.

    You need b43-fwcutter.
    Posted 12-21-2010 at 03:23 PM by lupusarcanus lupusarcanus is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Greetings leopard,
    I would love to hear from you in how you were able to get it to work with the 4318 Chipset. I have b43-fwcutter installed, installed/extracted the required firmware and when I go into System>Administration>Additional Drivers the b43 drivers do not show up. I even installed the STA drivers just to throw something out there and they are not seen under Additional Drivers. The ONLY driver that shows up is "Software Modem"
    Still working it and refuse to wave the white flag of defeat.

    All the best and Happy Holidays!

    Posted 12-22-2010 at 06:12 AM by ichase ichase is offline


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