Kubuntu 7.10 – Dell Insprion 1150 Install Part 2 Wifi

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. I don’t have wireless access working and may never get it to do so. But, I don’t blame GNU/Linux or Kubuntu. If I have to blame someone, I blame Linksys.

I have a Linksys WPC54GS PC card. Linksys has drivers for Windows, and that’s it. They don’t even have one for Macs, much less Linux. In reading the Linksys support forum, I get discouraged because I can see that the people who are trying to be helpful clearly don’t know how to write instructions. They leave out crucial steps. Some put in steps that don’t work. In fact, sometimes I wonder if some people just make things up to appear to be helping while getting a sadistic kick out of knowing the instructions will never work (in Psychology, this is known as the screw you syndrome). In any case, Linksys and its forum are no help.

You would think the official Kubuntu documentation on installing wifi cards would be better. You would, however, be wrong. The instructions say you can configure WPA with the included KNetworkManager. Perhaps there is a version that can do this or perhaps with the right hardware you get different options. But as far as I can see, the version included with Kubuntu cannot.

Then there’s the section on choosing ndiswrapper or broadcom. The documentation leads you to believe that you have to use ndiswrapper, but this appears incorrect. Ndiswrapper didn’t work for me. Perhaps there is a way of hand editing files but it didn’t work the way the instructions said it would. However, the broadcom did. Sort of. I could get the card to scan and detect the various wireless networks near our home (this varies from two or three to as many as five or six) but could not get it to connect to my router. Why? Because, as mentioned earlier, the Kubuntu default KNetworkManager software is not WPA compliant and I’m using WPA2 (and AES). So, no matter what I tried, getting connected was not going to happen with KNetworkManager.

In searching the Kubuntu support forum I saw something called wicd network manager. A note before proceeding. If you install wicd, be aware that it replaces KNetworkManager. When it does, your wired connection will be immediately lost. Let me repeat this, if you are using a wired Ethernet connection on your laptop along with a wireless connection, your wired Ethernet connection will disappear the second you install wicd. In fact, even after you get wicd configured, it defaults to using a wireless connection. This means that EVERY TIME YOU BOOT and are connected via wired Ethernet, you must manually set wicd to use your Ethernet connection. Having installed and configured wicd, I still can’t get connected to my router. As before, I can scan the networks but I can’t get logged in.

Right now, my working hypothesis is that wicd is not using AES for encryption. If this is correct, and unless there is a way of configuring it to do so, I will never be able to use wicd to connect.

So, that’s where things are right now. When I have more time, I’ll see if I can find another network manager that can do WPA2/AES and try that. But if I am unsuccessful, then all I can say is good luck getting a Linksys WPC54GS working with Kubuntu in a network secured by WPA2/AES (which, in my opinion, is as good security as it gets as of this writing). YMMV. Insert disclaimer here.

UPDATE: Although I never got Kubuntu 7.10 working, I did get Linux Mint 4.0 to do so. You can read how by following this link.



One response to “Kubuntu 7.10 – Dell Insprion 1150 Install Part 2 Wifi

  1. Hey, I feel your pain. I’ve been wrestling with my wireless on Ubuntu (Netgear PCI card in an IBM Thinkcentre) for about a week or two. I finally got mine working using ndiswrapper (don’t give up on it… it took me a while to get it working, but once I figured it out, it worked like a charm… try compiling it from source). Then I uninstalled network-manager (I use gnome, but it should be the same for KDE) AND network-manager-gnome (or possibly network-manager-kde in your case?). After that I put Wicd on, and got it working using WEP encryption. Turns out WPA doesn’t work in ubuntu with my particular wireless chipset. I recommend trying some of the stuff I mentioned (ESPECIALLY compiling ndiswrapper from source) and checking the connection on WEP (I know it sucks, but at least see if everything is working so you know the problem is the encryption and not something else). After that, good luck getting WPA to work. Apparently, it appears to be one of Ubuntu’s weak points right now. Perhaps the next release will be better.

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