Ubuntu's Linux Wireless Utility Easier than Windows

Posted by tadelste on Oct 29, 2005 12:05 PM
LXer Linux News; By Tom Adelstein

If you try to find a Linux compatible wireless card, you might find that a challenge. I shop around frequently and haven't seen any "Linux Compatible" stickers on wireless card boxes. Recently, I bought one on eBay and it had an entry in a Linux compatibility list. It didn't work. The manufacturer kept the model number but changed the chipset.

In attempting to make it work, I discovered that in Ubuntu's new release 5.10, they've added a utility that makes it easy to get off-the-shelf wireless cards to work. Now, that's the way Linux innovation can trump other OSes. Here's a short article demonstrating this ingenious tool.

Recently, I bought a Linksys Wireless - B PCI adapter for one of my Linux boxes after consulting a compatibility list. Linksys changed the WMP11 chip in this revision and it just didn't work with my system. I started searching around on Google and discovered that some people got it to work using ndiswrapper.

I prefer using wireless-G cards and access points so I went to Fry's and looked around for a Linux compatible card. I found a Hawking HWP54G for $14.95 and decided to try it even though it didn't mention Linux anywhere on the box. Intuition influenced me to choose this card.

I put it in my little AMD Sempron based box and discovered it had a Texas Instruments ACX 111 54Mbps Wireless Interface and a Ralink 2500 chipset. Both SUSE 10 and Ubuntu 5.10 recognized the card and attempted to load drivers for it. But, they didn't work.

Searching further, I wound up at a tutorial on Sourceforge and found a tutorial for getting wireless cards to work with Ubuntu.That made me wonder if ndiswrapper was in the Ubuntu repositories. So, I did a search in Synaptic Package Manager and found not only the ndiswrapper but a GUI configuration Utility.

I downloaded ndisgtk, ndiswrapper-utils and just in case the ndiswrapper-source. I didn't know what to expect. I wound up with a menu item as you can see in Figure 1.

Figure 1 - Ubuntu Windows Wireless Drivers Icon.

I looked at this with some skepticism. I figured my luck with these buckeroo's would lead me to the Linuxant web site where I would pay $19.99 for one of their wireless driveloaders. I had already downloaded the 30 day trial and it worked fine.

Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the icon, followed the steps and wound up with a driver for my wireless card. Figure 2 will give you an idea of what I saw.

Figure 2 - Ubuntu Currently Installed Windows Wireless Drivers.

The suspense started to build now that I had to configure the network and see if it would really work. So, I deactivated my eth0 card, unplugged the Cat 5 cable and configured my wlan0 card. In three steps, I was up and running, connected to the Internet and doing just what I wanted to do - throw away that ugly wire. Figure 3 shows you what appeared on my gnome panel.

Figure 3 - Network Connection Icon.

OK. So, I didn't recompile the kernel and I didn't attempt to configure the drivers and do a modprobe, etc. Afterall, one project does have source code for this chip. The ACX100/ACX111 wireless network driver project. You'll also find a nice guide called Craig's ACX100/111 Guide for Linux. I actually followed Craig's instructions and they work.

To add injury to insult, the tutorials mentioned above work nicely. I really prefer the CLI method of doing things. I'm a glutton for learning Linux and any straight up command line instructions work for me.

But hey. So many people have dedicated themselves to making Linux a user-frriendly, advanced desktop that I thought you might like to see what our buddies over at Ubuntu and the gnome project have done. Afterall, it works and it's easy and friendly. So, enjoy! (y'all.)

postscript: Take a look at Say NO to Windows NDIS Linux compatibility layer cludges! for a counterpoint of view about NDIS.

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Windows Wireless Drivers for Linksys WMP11 mlnease 1 9,343 Nov 5, 2007 1:49 PM
HWP54G Now Works Natively With Ubuntu girlienerd 2 7,361 Oct 3, 2006 12:44 PM
Works perfectly, thank you! greattastic 1 4,770 Feb 6, 2006 10:53 AM
Nice that Ubuntu Finally Catches up... devnet 11 7,679 Nov 19, 2005 1:13 PM
I tried a TI 111 card in SUSE avenger 2 4,316 Nov 2, 2005 2:54 AM
ummm... seen this done that gnutux 2 4,514 Oct 30, 2005 9:57 AM
grrr musical chipsets!!! tuxchick 3 4,307 Oct 29, 2005 4:58 PM

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