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Laptop wifi paper




       How to get WiFi working on your lap-top

It has been hard to get the wifi that works so well on your Windows XP to work when you select Linux at boot time. Windows XP has nothing that helps you to get Linux working. In this paper you will see that there is a step by step process that will get your system working.

I: First you MUST learn what the name of your WiFi hardware. This can usually be done from a root Terminal and you call # lspci. This will print a list of all the pci things in your laptop. Here is mine.

00:00.0 Host bridge: ATI Technologies Inc RS200/RS200M AGP Bridge [IGP 340M] (rev 02)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: ATI Technologies Inc PCI Bridge [IGP 340M]
00:03.0 Modem: ALi Corporation M5457 AC'97 Modem Controller
00:04.0 Multimedia audio controller: ALi Corporation M5451 PCI AC-Link Controller Audio Device (rev 02)
00:06.0 Bridge: ALi Corporation M7101 Power Management Controller [PMU]
00:07.0 ISA bridge: ALi Corporation M1533/M1535 PCI to ISA Bridge [Aladdin IV/V/V+]

00:09.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications, Inc. AR5212 802.11abg NIC (rev 01)

00:0a.0 CardBus bridge: Texas Instruments PCI7420 CardBus Controller
00:0a.2 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments PCI7x20 1394a-2000 OHCI Two-Port PHY/Link-Layer Controller 00:0a.3 Mass storage controller: Texas Instruments PCI7420/7620 Combo CardBus, 1394a-2000 OHCI and SD/MS-Pro Controller
00:0c.0 USB Controller: NEC Corporation USB (rev 43)
00:0c.1 USB Controller: NEC Corporation USB (rev 43)
00:0c.2 USB Controller: NEC Corporation USB 2.0 (rev 04)
00:0f.0 IDE interface: ALi Corporation M5229 IDE (rev c4)
00:12.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 10) 01:05.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Radeon IGP 330M/340M/350M

This is what my SONY laptop printed out from lspci. Notice there are two items called Ethernet controller. But notice the Atheros says it handles 802.11abg which is what WiFi is, So now we know this laptop has hardware made by Atheros Communications, Inc.

II: The second step is the hard one. You need to find out what Linux software is written for your hardware. You should use Google with good search calls. One is "fedora 7,Atheros" and like that. You learn the software I need is called "madwifi" but your not done yet. Keep looking for the module name that is used by modprobe to put it into the kernel. In this case it is "ath_pci". Listed below are the two hardware systems I know about.

Computer  Hardware      Software        modprobe       kernel

Sony      Atheros Comm   madwifi        ath_pci    (2.6.21-1.3228.fc7)

Dell      Intel Corp.    IEEE802        ipw2200    (2.6.21-1.3232.fc7)

If a reader knows about other Linux software please write. If you have a laptop that is working and you forgot what you did, do this:

# lsmod and find the ones that sound like wifi stuff. Or look at /etc/modprobe.conf and you should see them there. III: Now find a kernel that has your drivers in module form. Start with your current kernel and as root type modprobe ath_pci in my case. If nothing happens your lucky, your kernel has the driver you need. A more general case modprobe says "no such file". Then you need to find a kernel with your modules. Try older and new kernels.

IV: There is a new network system available in at least Fedora Core 6 and Fedora 7 called NetworkManager. You will want to set that up at least on your laptop. I have it on both computers. Caution! Turn off network if your using NetworkManager.

Do this, cd /etc/rc.d/init.d/ and you will see a lot of applications listed. Now as root do # chkconfig network off and then # chkconfig NetworkManager on and # chkconfig NetworkManagerDispatcher on. Reboot and the new system will be working.

V: If you have the right kernel you can now use # modprobe ath_pci and that will work. Look at the two tiny computers near your name on the top edge and click on them. It will tell you about what it is doing. Also use the # nm-tool which will show you what Internet it is working on and what is turned off. Often your laptop will suddenly have wifi Internet. This is a good moment.


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