Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On wifi

Does everyone remember the last post I made where I said I'd be posting more now, and my next post would be on changing my OS from Windows to something most likely Ubuntu based?  Well, at least one of those things was right (though I will be posting more now).  I just completed what turned out to be a monumental task. 

I ended up installing 3 different OSs multiple times, trying so many supposed fixes it made my head spin, and considering giving Windows 8 Developer Preview a try before I settled on a solution that, at least for now, works.

The problem wasn't the OSs themselves.  On the contrary, they all looked and ran great.  The problem ( and the bane of many a Linux user's existence) was my wifi card.  Linux is notorious for it's bad wifi support.  That could be due to closed, proprietary drivers that are mostly written for windows.  This situation is slowly becoming better, with the development of better kernel support, and chip manufacturer Broadcom releasing an open source wifi driver for some of their chipsets last year.

Obviously, it could still stand some improvement.  That, or my wifi card hates me.  Using the Broadcom driver didn't work for my card, though it should have.  Nor did NDISwrapper with the windows driver I pulled off the disk that came with the card.  I even tried the B43 driver that comes standard with Linux, and B43FWcutter, which is supposed to splice your specific wifi card firmware into the driver.  None of it worked with either version of Linux Mint I tried, or Ubuntu.  I was considering Arch Linux or just going back to Windows in general, when I found an old Linksys router I brought back from Germany with me.  The power supply for it wasn't dual voltage and it fried when I plugged it in, but I never got to test if the router still worked.  I ended up just getting a new N router.

In any case, I decided to see if it still worked, so I plugged it in....success!  It still worked.  That gave me an idea.

I decided to try out a ROM replacement for the router.  These usually expand the capabilities of routers over those equipped with their stock ROMs, and two of the most well known, Tomato and DD-WRT, are free.

I decided to run with DD-WRT and see what happens.  After going through the very detailed how-to, my router had a new ROM on it.  I then found a how-to for configuring it as a client to another router and blam! I had connectivity through this old router to my gateway router.

I attached to my desktop (which is now running the newest Ubuntu) and it worked like a charm.  It'll be a great stopgap until I can get a wifi card for that computer that I know will run on Linux.

I can't wait to put Wine on it and try a couple of the Windows games I have, and see how they perform (if I can get them to work of course.  I also want to try putting Arch on my netbook now.

That's all I got for now.  See you next time.

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