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Old 05-28-2008, 02:00 AM   #1
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Registered: May 2008
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Wireless on Linux???

Hey guys!

First off, this is my first post here!

I've been searching for a nice Linux distro, but with whatever I came up with, my wireless dídn't work. So far I've tried:

OpenSUSE 10.2 and 10.3 (In 10.3 my desktop crashes)
Mandriva (Whatever I tried, didn't get it to work)
(Mepis (Hal daemon is maybe not running after I try to connect to a network)

So here's my question:

Which disto is the best on wireless networking?

Thnx in advance
Old 05-28-2008, 05:05 AM   #2
Registered: Feb 2008
Location: Rome, Italy
Distribution: OpenSuSE 11.x, vectorlinux, slax, Sabayon
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In my opinion and from what I saw so far, there's not a distro I can suggest for wireless networking and the distros you used are ok.
The problem is that many devices lack a specific driver, and many times you have to use ndiswrapper in order to use a windows driver... look for your wireless device model in the internet and look if anyone else managed to let it work
Old 05-28-2008, 05:37 AM   #3
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Registered: May 2008
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Distribution: Debian
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1. Identify your wireless controller
If it is built in, it is probably connected to the PCI bus and you can see an entry when you do:
lspci -v (get the PCI BUS ID + description)
lspci -n (match the PCI BUS ID to find out your VendorID:ProductID numbers)

2. Go to to see if your device is supported - if it's not supported, the site will help you find a compatible device. Beware: the 'revision' is extremely important; many manufacturers have created a WGizmo which was compatible, but WGizmo.revB is incompatible, etc.

3. Although the site mentioned in [2] is very good, I can't guarantee it's complete. Ultimately, whether a device is natively supported or not can be determined if you tell us your kernel version and give us the VendorID:ProductID. You can also search the web yourself using keys like linux, wireless, driver, and the vendor ID and product ID.
Old 05-28-2008, 05:52 AM   #4
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Try to understand that most of the time it is not about the distribution you choose. The only case I can think of when it depends on the distribution is when you pick up one that uses some sort of non-free drivers, in which case you would pretty surely have to pay for that.

In order to have the hardware working (the actual wireless card), kernel needs to have a module (a driver) for that piece of hardware. Some wireless cards do, some don't. For some a driver can be added (installed) later, and in some cases there is a driver, but it doesn't work before you obtain some non-free pieces for it (called "firmware files" in some cases). When hardware works, you then need software -- an application -- that you use to connect to a network. There are many applications for this work, and the main desktop environments (KDE, Gnome) usually come with one of "their own" such as NetworkManager (and a panel plugin to use it) or something else. Then you just use that application to connect to a network by giving an ESSID (or scanning for one) and a passhprase (after selecting the encryption method used, if it's not automatically detected).

The hardest part is to get the hardware working. If there are open source drivers for your card, it probably works right form the start. If it doesn't, you need to know which chipset the card is using, and then find out what drivers you are supposed to use with it and where to obtain them. As a last resort you can use ndiswrapper to wrap windows drivers of the card and use them, but if there is a native driver, you should prefer it over ndiswrapper.

- what card is it, and more importantly, which chipset
- what the problem is exactly; can't you scan, connect or what?
- what you have tried to do so far

Switching distributions is not going to help, so pick one that you like (excluding the lack of wireless connectivity) and start working with it.


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