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Old 04-17-2011, 01:59 PM   #1
Registered: Nov 2009
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Install Broadcom STA wireless driver in Ubuntu Lucid

I don't know if this will still interest anybody, but I found a lot of confusing stuff on the www about installing the Broadcom STA wireless driver in ubuntu lucid and had to figure it out myself. This method should work (Tested with 32bit and 64bit on Apple iMac 7.1 and MacBook Pro 5.1):

Update your system.

Install the backported kernel: 2.6.35-28-generic (2.6.35-25-generic in 64bit). Also works with 2.6.35-28-generic-pae.

Boot from it. If you use the nvidia driver and get low graphics mode, choose "run in low graphics mode for one session", reinstall the nvidia driver and reboot. For the ATI driver see this thread:

Remove the 2.6.32 and older kernels and headers (You want the initramfs updated for 2.6.35, not 2.6.32; if you want an emergency fallback kernel, install 2.6.31-11-rt. No kidding; the rt-kernel is still in the repository and will boot into recovery mode when the newer kernels won't).

Download and install the natty kernel source from Launchpad (
bcmwl-kernel-source_5.100.82.38+bdcom-0ubuntu2_i386.deb or bcmwl-kernel-source_5.100.82.38+bdcom-0ubuntu2_amd64.deb, according. (Read the terminal output of the installer: it should do update-initramfs for 2.6.35).

Reboot, and on the next boot you should get a "wireless networks available" message.

In terminal geek talk it goes like this:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install linux-image-generic-lts-backport-maverick linux-headers-generic-lts-backport-maverick
sudo reboot

# be sure to reboot into the new kernel!!!!

# purge old kernels:

for 32bit:
sudo apt-get purge linux-image-2.6.32-31-generic linux-headers-2.6.32-31-generic

for 64bit:
sudo apt-get purge linux-image-2.6.32-30-generic linux-headers-2.6.32-30-generic

# repeat the purge commands for any older kernels except 2.6.31-11-rt

#if necessary:
#sudo apt-get install nvidia-current
#sudo reboot

#for the ATI driver see this thread:

# for 32bit:

#for 64bit:

sudo dpkg -i $HOME/bcmwl-kernel-source_5.100.82.38*

sudo reboot

#and enjoy

Edit: If you have another account on your computer and it gives you display trouble after upgrading the ATI driver, do the following:

sudo cp -R $HOME/.gconf $HOME/.gconfd $HOME/.gnome2 $HOME/.config $HOME/.dmrc /home/<user>
sudo chown -R <user>:<user> /home/<user>/.gconf /home/<user>/.gconfd /home/<user>/.gnome2 /home/<user>/.config /home/<user>/.dmrc

whereby <user> is to be replaced with the short name of your secondary account. You will have to do some cleaning up after this, but the display should work again.

Last edited by nokangaroo; 04-18-2011 at 02:21 PM.
Old 04-17-2011, 03:56 PM   #2
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Thank you for sharing your solution. I don't quite understand why you need a complete dist-upgrade to another kernel just to (compile and use) the Broadcom STA driver. I found this site on Debian that described a very easy process to compile for the kernel you're running. Have been using it since 2.6.32-5, now running 2.6.38-2 and the same procedure always worked/works. Not saying your solution is not right. It worked for you and might work for others too. Just pointing out that there are other and easier solutions.

Kind regards,

Old 04-18-2011, 02:18 PM   #3
Registered: Nov 2009
Posts: 141

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Thanks, Eric. I checked out that site (just gave it the once-over, but I bookmarked it and will look at it), but it does not seem to be any simpler than what I did. Anyway, I got rid of the 2.6.32 kernel (and recommend this to others too) because it gave me optical garbage on boot and shutdown (both on the iMac and the mbp) which can't be good. The kernel upgrade on the mbp is perfectly safe and straightforward; with the upgraded ATI driver on the iMac I had slight trouble with my secondary account (see edit).


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