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Old 08-17-2008, 06:04 AM   #1
Registered: Aug 2008
Location: Phoenix
Distribution: Arch
Posts: 799
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Angry broadcom wireless drivers

I'm writing this to vent my frustration and my success of getting my wireless working on my laptop.

First off, if you are looking for help on installing any broadcom wireless driver that shows up with /sbin/lspci as bcm43XX and you are running slackware 12.0 the short answer to getting wireless working is:

go to
install b43-fwcutter
then install either b43legacy-firmware or b43-firmware (both if you arn't sure)

restart and now your hardware should be recognized and working! use any tutorial on iwconfig and related tools to connect to your router.

I believe in slackware you may need to start the wlan0 interface with '/etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 wlan0_start' (you can start or stop any network interface with this. just replace wlan0 with what you want. e.g. for testing you can stop your ethernet by using eth0_stop)

the rest is mostly just ranting...

in the 2.6 kernel broadcom wireless drivers bcm43xx are supported with the modules b43 (most of them) and b43legacy (for select chips including bcm4306). But there is a catch!!! the modules require firmware that are NOT distributed with slackware (I'm guessing only a few commercial distributions contain them).

How do you get the firmware?

the slackbuilds contain links but contains information once you follow the appropriate 20 links to get to the part that tells you how to download the firmware.

get the firmware, cut out what you need with b43-fwcutter, place it where your distribution expects it (/lib/firmware) restart and you're good

lessons I've learned from this? pay more attention to diagnostic tools such as 'dmesg' and 'lspci' then actually read webpages rather than try and scan them to see if the information will be useful.

Also... more than likely there is always a useful error message SOMEWHERE. The most frustrating thing about this is that there was never any error message when starting the wlan0 interface. Also, all the drivers were loaded for the wireless card. Sure a more experienced linux user would have immediately turned to lspci to find out what the device is identified as then do dmesg to find out if it's spitting out any errors then they would have seen what I saw which directly said I was missing firmware and exactly which file was need. Then they would of had a more direct topic to search.

Now perhaps I can apply this to the ATI graphics card in my Gateway 600YGR (which, btw, never had proper updates for the windows drivers to begin with)

Why is it that no distributer has any mention of any of their products that are older than 3 years?!?!?! Honestly! just go to and find drivers for your laptop! even for windows! sure you may be able to find mention of the products BCM2055 and BCM4312 (why arn't all the BCM43 series listed under BCM43XX?!?!) but you arn't going to find any drivers for them. My favorite is the features list of the BCM4312 "Software support for Windows® 2K, XP, Vista, Linux® operating systems, IEEE 802.1x, CCX v4 and CCX v5" but no links to the drivers for said 'support' WTF...

Aside from all this. I still prefer linux (especially slackware) to windows.
Old 08-17-2008, 06:33 AM   #2
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Distribution: Slackware64 14.2, Slackwarearm-current
Posts: 971

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Hi lumak,

Let me add a couple of things related to my experience with my HP Pavilion 6400 which has a BCM 4312 rev 02 chip: This chip does not work with pre-2.6.25 kernels (or at least I couldn't make it work). Slackware 12.1 comes with 2.6.24 so you may need an upgrade to make this chip work. Also, as I've already mentioned in another thread, I have to use the "DHCP_TIMEOUT" variable in inet1.conf (just set it to some nonzero value) to get an IP address with DHCP.


80211, b43, b43legacy, bcm4306, bcm43xx, broadcom, firmware, gateway, wireless

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