Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wireless, the eternal headache

New computer means re-installing operating systems, joy. Wireless hardware has always been a constant headache, no exception this time.

Netgear WG121 USB in Windows XP, I had to go through the following steps:
1) Plug it in.
2) When Windows recognizes it and wants to install drivers, you must "cancel".
3) Pop in the CD and use setup.exe to install drivers yourself.
4) Reboot.
5) When windows wants to install drivers again after startup, "allow". Let it search the HD for drivers automatically, it will find and reinstall drivers - from what I can see, it copies from and to the same location.
6) Reboot
7) The Netgear connection wizard pops up and wants to disable Windows' own management of wireless connections - "allow".
8) Wait a couple of minutes while seemingly nothing happens, until the wizard window hangs and stops responding, kill it with Windows process manager.
9) Reboot. Now you can start the wizard from the start menu and you can finally configure settings and start using connection.
10) Discover that the connection hangs while downloading large files - for instance the new Kubuntu 7.04 installation CD ISO.
11) Swear a lot, reboot, download the 2.0 drivers and firmware zip from Netgear's site.
12) Go into control panel, uninstall the original drivers and tools completely.
13) Reboot and repeat steps 3-9, this time with the 2.0 drivers.

Any deviation from these steps will make the driver installation fail and the hardware unusable, you will have to uninstall and restart from step 1.

Netgear WG121 USB in Kubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn: This is what I had to go through
1) Read that some people claim it works out of the box. Plug it in, notice that nothing at all happens, plug in long network cable borrowed from work instead.
2) Find the following page.
3) Do NOT download the packaged version of ndiswrapper through Synaptic/Adept package managers, use wget to download the latest version from Sourceforge.
4) Remember to unplug the hardware if you have plugged it in, having it in will cause installation to fail.
5) Compile and "make install".
6) After following instructions on page from point 2 above and nothing works (only one light on device is on, /var/log/messages says probe failed with error code -22) after hours of trying to recompile and modprobe different versions, Google. Try to find relevant information without clicking on links from Google keyword bombing spam scumbags. Eventually I found that Feisty has a regression bug - wrong Prism firmware is included in /lib/firmware for that kernel version. So, download the latest firmware compiled by the maintainer and overwrite one of the files in /lib/firmware/ with a completely different name.... I'd post a link to the detailed instructions of course, if I could find it again! I believe I read it at the Ubuntu bug forums.
7) Reboot, now it works... for around 30 seconds, when it locks up until next reboot. Google some more, find that other people have the same problem but no one has found a reliable solution.

Give up and install the PCI card I bought last time for this. I think it is a D-link card. The drivers for Windows are even more horrible than the Netgear WG121. I haven't been able to get it to work at all with Windows actually, but it works fine with Linux and ndiswrapper. So I have to have two devices, one for Windows and one for Linux.... Bleh.

Perhaps newer generations of hardware are better? Can anyone recommend something that works with a minimum of hassle with both Windows and Linux?

1 comment:

Henrik said...

The built in Intel PRO/Wireless 2915ABG in my DELL works like a charm both in WinXP and Ubuntu "out of the box"... but of course, that doesn't help you with your desktop computer, unless it's possible to buy a PCI or USB version of that WiFi chip...