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Old 08-18-2017, 06:55 PM   #1
pizzipie
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Internet connection quits - says WIFI is disabled by hardware switch - I don't have switch


Using Ubuntu MATE 16.04. New installation.

I have to keep re-booting to re-establish my internet connection. The connection lasts maybe 1/2 hour and then dis-connects by itself. Clicking on the network thing, it says Wifi is disabled by hardware switch.

I don't have a network switch on this computer.
 
Old 08-18-2017, 08:08 PM   #2
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What is the make/model of the computer?
 
Old 08-19-2017, 03:00 PM   #3
pizzipie
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Sorry about that. Computer is a DELL.

See attachment.

I did have a previous installation of Ubuntu 16.04 MATE that did not do this. Internet could be accessed for hours with no problem. I am replacing that installation with this one as something blew up the login process.

R
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Last edited by pizzipie; 08-19-2017 at 03:03 PM.
 
Old 08-19-2017, 05:51 PM   #4
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You might want to install rfkill. Then run the command "rfkill unblock all".

It is a long shot. Dell doesn't have a HW switch but internally it uses the rfkill state.

jlinkels
 
Old 08-19-2017, 08:09 PM   #5
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If it's a Dell laptop less than ten years old, it almost certainly has a hardware switch for the wifi. Every Dell laptop I've had since wireless became the primary choice for laptop usage has had one, generally the Fn key plus one of the function keys.

Look for a function key that has an image that looks like a radio tower or some antenna-like thingee on it. Alternatively, go to the Dell website and check whether you can get a copy of the manual from them.

Last edited by frankbell; 08-19-2017 at 08:11 PM.
 
Old 08-19-2017, 09:37 PM   #6
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@frankbell: that is not a hardware switch. It is a key which is read out by some software, which eventually toggles the state of /sys/class/rfkill or something similar. But the important thing is, this flag is software. So it can be set or unset by Fn-F2 but also by something else.

My Asus has a real HW switch which does <click> when it is switched. It shift mechanically to one position or the other. That switch eventually is signalled by another flag but no piece of software can alter the state. I assume it inhibits the RF module power in hardware. Dell doesn't have such a switch in hardware.

On top of that this laptop has Fn-F2 just like the Dell. But that is a soft switch.

It is not impossible that toggling Fn-F2 re-enables the WiFi of the OP though. Rfkill reports this as a "hardware switch" as well. It is worth a try.

jlinkels

Last edited by jlinkels; 08-19-2017 at 09:40 PM.
 
Old 08-19-2017, 10:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
@frankbell: that is not a hardware switch. It is a key which is read out by some software, which eventually toggles the state of /sys/class/rfkill or something similar. But the important thing is, this flag is software. So it can be set or unset by Fn-F2 but also by something else.
I once accidentally turned off my wireless on a Dell laptop by hitting the wrong Fn-Function combination. It took me a month to figure out what I had done.

If it's activated by pressing a bit of hardware, I would argue that it falls in the broad category of a "hardware switch," even if it's not a button that protrudes from the base of the machine. To help OP, we need to know whether or not his wireless can be turned off and on by pressing on a bit of hardware, because he may be accidentally activating that bit of hardware or because that bit of hardware may be failing.

I don't want to seem quarrelsome, but I find this a bit of a semantic quibble as regards OP's issue.

Last edited by frankbell; 08-19-2017 at 10:37 PM. Reason: spelling
 
Old 08-19-2017, 11:41 PM   #8
ondoho
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shot in the dark: if the disconnect always happens after some time, maybe it is power saving related.
i have seen posts where people had to disable wifi powersaving.

without additional info it is impossible to be more precise; you could start by providing the information requested in this thread.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jlinkels View Post
that is not a hardware switch. It is a key which is read out by some software
i think those fn-keys are baked deep into the laptop's firmware?
 
Old 08-20-2017, 10:26 AM   #9
jlinkels
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ondoho View Post
I think those fn-keys are baked deep into the laptop's firmware?
It is a grey area. The OS can communicate with anything which is set by those "hardware switches". Just like screen brightness and audio and even the power button.

I think all that communication goes through the ACPI API. But if it can be toggled by software from within the OS it is not a hardware switch IMHO.

Older laptops I owned (Lenovo 2008 and Asus 2012) have a hardware switch which is physically shifted. I also owned a laptop which had a hardware switch which cut the power from the WiFi module or set a disable signal in hardware. And that signal was not read out. So more than once I was desperately trying to find out why WiFi was not working. But that was before ACPI worked real well.

Back to the problem of the OP. For this sake I installed rfkill on my Dell. The Dell has Fn-PrnScr as Wifi toggle button.
Wifi activated:
Code:
jlinkels@dell-5759:~$ sudo rfkill list
1: phy0: Wireless LAN
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no
After pressing Fn-PrnScr (WiFi showed disabled in Networkmanager)
Code:
jlinkels@dell-5759:~$ sudo rfkill list
1: phy0: Wireless LAN
        Soft blocked: yes
        Hard blocked: no
After running rfkill unblock:
Code:
jlinkels@dell-5759:~$ sudo rfkill unblock all
jlinkels@dell-5759:~$ sudo rfkill list
1: phy0: Wireless LAN
        Soft blocked: no
        Hard blocked: no
My Dell (Inspiron 5759) does not have any other switches or indicators.

jlinkels
 
Old 08-20-2017, 11:44 AM   #10
pizzipie
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Thanks all,

At the moment I have had the laptop on for about 36 hours and it hasn't dropped out of the internet.

I can't see how I would have inadvertantly pressed Fn-PrnScr especially three or four times.

However I will keep your information handy.

Again thanks all for your time.

R

I ran rfkill list and the results are:


Code:
rfkill list

0: dell-wifi: Wireless LAN
	Soft blocked: no
	Hard blocked: no
1: phy0: Wireless LAN
	Soft blocked: no
	Hard blocked: no
 
  


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