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Old 04-13-2009, 06:48 AM   #1
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Unhappy Ubuntu 8.10 cannot connect to WPA WiFi network


First post, complete novice, hoping this forum can help. I have posted this problem on an Ubuntu forum, but no joy. A long explanation follows, so apologies, but I want to show what I've done and what's happening.

I'm using Ubuntu on an IBM T42 laptop. Recently upgraded to 8.10 and can no longer connect to my WPA or WEP home network (works fine with no network security). I could connect with earlier versions, but connection was often flaky (had to re-enter the passkey, or sometimes re-enter CSID and all details as network manager often couldn't "see" my network, even though I could edit the details). I moved to 8.10 as I'd heard that networking had improved.

As far as I can tell by running lshw, I have an Atheros AR5212 card that has driver ath_pci.

The symptoms are that I enter the network CSID and passkey and the network "swirly" icon shows one green dot and the swirl, then after about 20 seconds is asks for the network key. The box displayed has a passkey in it, but if I show the passkey then it isn't the key I entered. If I re-enter the passkey the same procedure repeats.

I tried changing to a less strong passkey with only lower-case alpha-numerics (my original was quite strong and used a lot of non-alpha numerics) and I managed to log in. I could plug in and unplug the Ethernet to the same router and the laptop would switch seamlessly between wired and wireless connection.

I shut down and rebooted the laptop and it connected to the wireless. I checked on what passkey the network manager had stored, but it was scrambled and was 64 characters (lower-case alpha-numerics), not the passkey I had entered. But the laptop was still logging in OK. I stopped the router broadcasting the network name and still it found it and logged in. I thought I'd cracked it (although the scrambled passkey worried me - perhaps that's how Linux or Ubuntu keeps passkeys secure?) But life's not that easy.

The next day, after the laptop had been shut down overnight, it couldn't log in again. I deleted the network and recreated the login several times, but always with the same result - one green light on the "swirly" network symbol then, after a long delay, I get a screen asking for the network passkey. Again, this screen had a passkey already entered which, when I check the "show password" box, is always the same 64-character string of lower-case alpha-numerics. I even thought about using this string as my network passkey to see if that would work, but my router has a maximum passkey length of 63 characters.

I've found threads in other forums that indicate similar issues with ieee80211 modules, and with backported modules, (see this bug report but I've checked in Synaptic and I don't have either. I tried the manual fix anyway, but it failed. I even tried installing backported modules, but no difference. I then uninstalled them, but no change.

I went into the "Passwords and Encryption keys" in "Accessories" and looked at the saved passkey for my network (the same 64-digit code network manager inserts, not the one I enter), so I changed it to the correct passkey. I closed the accessory, then re-opened to check the passkey was still there unaltered (it was), but as soon as I tried to log into my network, I looked again and it had been scrambled into the same 64-digit string.

I tried WEP (both 64-bit and 128-bit) as an alternative to WPA-PSK but I can't log in that way either, although network manager seemed to remember the key for the 64-bit.

To a complete novice, the issue seems to revolve around network manager (or some other module) scrambling the passkey.

Anyone any ideas?

Last edited by Wiseloki; 04-13-2009 at 06:49 AM.
Old 04-14-2009, 02:30 AM   #2
Simon Bridge
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I tried changing to a less strong passkey with only lower-case alpha-numerics (my original was quite strong and used a lot of non-alpha numerics) and I managed to log in.
("authenticate" I'm guessing - not "log in") Which suggests you just had trouble typing the key.

my router has a maximum passkey length of 63 characters.
Found your ubuntu forums thread:

WPA in Ubuntu:
... read carefully - try using the manual method rather than network manager.

Atheros AR5212
... the driver for aetheros cards has changed recently.

However - I have been unhelpfully using wpa in ubuntu with my aethros card.
No problems. Though these days I leave my wap unencrypted.
Old 12-29-2009, 03:31 AM   #3
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Distribution: Ubuntu 8.10
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Looks like this was some sort of hardware issue.

I changed the T42 for an X60s and Ubuntu 9.10 networks with WPA on with no issues.

The T42 had started to develop networking problems under XP as well, which is what convinced me it was the hardware.

Last edited by Wiseloki; 12-29-2009 at 03:32 AM.


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