[conspire] Fedora 12 wireless hell

Ehud Kaldor ehud.kaldor at gmail.com
Wed Apr 21 22:58:59 PDT 2010

i tip my (red) hat to you, Rick.
you were wrong about the dell model. it was 1397 (mental note: don't write
model numbers from memory). while i was looking for a fedora resource, the
answer, as usual, laid in the most (un)expected place - Dell. the community
blog post you have below led me to the broadcom site, downloaded the 32bit
one, untar, make, make install and reboot. all the fog clears.

this experience, however, brought me to the following conclusion - there is
a misunderstanding about default driver sets with OS vendors (not just
Linux, i guess). it is clear to me that in today's world, where laptops are
prevalent, if display, keyboard and mouse drivers are P0, the next in line
should be the wireless. after all, if you don't get your driver from the
shipped-with CD but from the web, where you also get assistance for anything
that is not PnP, wireless is your door to the world. true, wired is some
compensation, but installing in a coffee shop or even at home, if you want
to sit on the couch and not pull cables all over, it's a must nad not just a
luxury. there has got to be a way, like for displays or keyboards, that will
let you have basic wireless functionality for _ANY_ wireless card, enough to
connect to the nearest non-customized access-point and download the real
driver. maybe i got spoiled over the years, and maybe it has some merit.

anyway, this is a work-issued laptop so taking the card out would have been
messy, and luckily i don't need to. and today is the first day of the rest
of my

no. forget that. skip the cliche.

oh, and apologies for the multi lists. will not happen again.

and just in case it did not reach the mafia bunch, RMS is lecturing in
Stanford on 4/30.


On Wed, Apr 21, 2010 at 9:54 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:

> [I'm choosing to respond to CABAL's mailing list, but not simultaneously
> to SVLUG's, for this reply.]
> Quoting Ehud Kaldor (ehud.kaldor at gmail.com):
> > SVLUG <svlug at lists.svlug.org>, conspire at linuxmafia.com
> Gee, I do wish people wouldn't crosspost across multiple mailing lists.
> Among other things, you will tend to cause problems for the listadmin of
> each mailing list you include in your crosspost.  (I could detail those,
> but maybe you'll take my word for that.)  It's not just that I'm vaguely
> in favour of being nice to listadmins, but, in this specific case, the
> two specific listadmins affected are going to be Rick Moen and Rick Moen.
> > I am stuck on a big change in my life. After a couple of happy years
> > with Ubuntu, I decided to hop distro and try Fedora with my new laptop
> > (Dell latitude E6400). Everything seems to be solvable (as there is no
> > Linux in PnP) except for the wireless. After it not being there after
> > the initial and appearing after the first 450 updates in yum, I cannot
> > get it to find a network. Sometimes it sees them and fails to connect
> > but mostly the Network-Manager list is empty.
> > Lspci claims it is a Dell 1370 hiding a Broadcom 4312 [xxxx:4315].
> What a bummer, eh?
> One of the drawbacks of using big-name OEMs like Dell is that their
> general attitude is that you shouldn't need or want information on the
> specific chipsets, because Dell Is Your Friend[tm].  So, it's often a
> bit challenging to determine which chipsets are in a particular model,
> and the OEM also sometimes changes those chipsets without changing its
> model number.
> Anyway, time to research the Dell Latitude E6400.  I find:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dell_Latitude#E-Family
> That page claims that the E6400 comes with one of these four.  (That is
> another thing the big-name OEMs do:  You'll often get whichever miniPCI
> form factor wireless card they could get cheapest that week, and it's a
> bit unpredictable which one you'll get.)
>  Dell Wireless 1397,
>  Dell Wireless 1510,
>  Intel WiFi Link 5100,
>  Intel WiFi Link 5300
> Could be incomplete or out of date, though.
> Just a thought:  Since this thing's going to be a miniPCI card, very
> likely you can just pop open an access door on your laptop and verify
> for yourself, by visual inspection, (1) what model of wireless card it
> is and (2) what model of wireless chip it's based on.
> lspci is a pretty darned good judge of such things, so I'd put a lot of
> credence in its claim that it's a Dell 1370 miniPCI card using a
> Broadcom 4312 chip.  However, no harm in looking up "Dell 1370 chipset"
> using a search engine.  This page claims the Dell 1370 uses "the dreaded
> Broadcom 4318 chipset, which seems to stand out among Broadcom wireless
> cards as particularly quarrelsome":
> http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-188775.html
> (By the way, it might be that there's negligible difference between
> Broadcom's 4312 and 4318 chips.  Seems likely enough.  And this page
> refers to them as bcm43xx chips, supporting that notion:
> http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/software-os/f/3525/p/18460596/18592325.aspx)
> The ubuntuforums page goes on to give slightly but not severely
> Ubuntu-centric advice on installing ndiswrapper, finding a compatible
> MS-Windows wireless driver EXE archive, extracting the Windows drivers,
> and configuring ndiswrapper to use them.
> Despite being worded in terms of Ubuntu, it seems a valuable page in
> that it describes all the little fiddly bits that would otherwise give
> you pain.
> Here's something you'll need to know:  Like an increasing number of
> manufacturers, Broadcom doesn't furnish functional firmware _as ROMs_
> for cards based on its chips.  Instead, that firmware is furnished as
> firmware _files_ that the OS needs to lob into the RAM related to the
> adapter in order to initialise the thing.  You know, "BLOBs", Binary
> Large OBjects.  I'm _extremely_ sure that Fedora does not include that
> BLOB / firmware file in the Fedora 12 media, because that file is
> proprietary.  All you need to know is here, and it even talks about
> Fedora:
> http://linuxwireless.org/en/users/Drivers/b43#device_firmware_installation
> Morever, that page talks extensively about the preferred open source
> driver for BCM43xx chips, which driver is called b43.  Check your system
> to see if Fedora includes that driver.
> And, you know what?  I'm betting that your sole problem is not having
> that firmware image, so you may now be in luck.
> > Did anyone have any good advice, or am I doomed to be distro-bound?
> Help...
> If the above doesn't help, then -- seriously -- bag it.  That is, I'd
> say lose the Dell 1370 miniPCI card (i.e., unplug it), and put in
> something decent that's not based on a Broadcom or Marvell chip.  It's
> not like they cost a lot, and they just plug right in.
> I'm not saying Broadcom is uniquely bad at dealing with the open source
> community among chip makers, but it is definitely at least _among_ the
> worst of an unreliable lot.  I consider "Broadcom" to be something of a
> swear word.
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