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Old 09-28-2012, 10:34 PM   #1
Registered: Mar 2009
Location: Vancouver BC
Posts: 101

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Laptop wireless firmware

I see that the compatibility lists for wireless cards call for flashing the firmware on the cards.
I have older IBM laptops (T41, X31) I take to work that I've had to upgrade with later mini-PCI wireless G cards (originals were wireless B). They're running Windows XP and 7 because I need MS Excel to run a crew bill estimate with macros that won't run on OO. I'm having connection problems with both Intel 2200BG and 2915ABG and Broadcom 4318 cards. Each of Intel or Broadcom will connect at one workplace but not at another. One connects at workplace A, not at B, the other is opposite. I've considered a dual-boot to try and solve the connectivity issues, but the notes on flashing the firmware on the cards for linux give me pause.

Does the revised firmware for Linux for the Intel and Broadcom cards maintain or negate their functionality on Windows?

My past experience on older Intel wireless B cards and much older versions of Ubuntu was very good -- worked immediately on a live cd. I've tried live Linux Mint XFCE on both cards, but it does not connect automatically and I can't find anything in the menus that will. Will try some other distros, but won't go as far as changing firmware on the cards if it destroys capability on Windows.

Last edited by DanceMan; 09-28-2012 at 10:37 PM.
Old 09-30-2012, 05:25 PM   #2
Registered: Mar 2006
Location: Czech Republic
Distribution: Gentoo, Chakra
Posts: 956
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AFAIK wireless cards don't have firmware ROMs, which means that the firmware is loaded at hw initialization from your hard drive.
[  125.610092] phy0 -> rt2x00lib_request_firmware: Info - Firmware detected - version: 1.7.
. You just find the firmware file, and put it in /var/lib/firmware. It does nothing for windows, as windows has its own copy of the firmware (which you also could try to use, if you find it).

However, firmware updates aren't too common, I'd suggest trying to update your wireless drivers instead. The problems with the intel cards are a bit weird, because those are pretty old models, which I know work on WEP/WPA networks. Isn't the problem that your network is WPA2? I'd look into the configuration differences between those networks if I were you.

btw : what distro are you using, kernel version?

Old 10-01-2012, 09:12 AM   #3
Registered: Mar 2009
Location: Vancouver BC
Posts: 101

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The problem at workplace B was definitely originally the encryption protocol and that forced me to change from the wireless B to G cards. It went wireless using new gigabit dual-band D-Link routers that only support WPA or WPA2 and not WEP. The Broadcom card will finally connect there with a new driver I found for Win7. Workplace A is using an old Linksys WRT54G and a D-link of similar vintage.The Intel cards on XP work there, but the Broadcom doesn't. Someone has monkeyed with the channels on those to prevent interference with a wireless remote for a lighting system, and I suspect that as the issue.

The Live Mint XFCE I tried was the current and latest. Will check the kernel when I have time.


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