Posts Tagged ‘wireless’

Installing a new wireless mini-pci card in an Asus M2400N laptop

Wednesday, October 27th, 2004

My Asus M2400N laptop came with an integrated Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 mini-pci card for wi-fi access. It was ok initially, but when I upgraded the rest of my gear to 802.11g and 54Mbps, it was too slow. I used an Atheros Cardbus card for a while, using the madwifi driver, but the laptop has only one PCMCIA slot, and it was a bit of a pain to have it always occupied.

Now I have bought an Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG mini-pci card, which I managed to insert into the laptop with not too much difficulty.

The short story is that it can be done upgrading the builtin wireless card in the laptop, and it works. The long story, with photos of each step, is in the extended copy below.

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Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 mini-pci network card

Sunday, August 15th, 2004

The Asus M2N series of laptops have an integrated wireless network card. It is an Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 mini-pci card, which supports 802.11b at 11Mbps.

Initially I used an ndiswrapper type driver from linuxant.com, which I even paid for. I think it is the first time in many many years I have paid for a piece of software ๐Ÿ™‚ It served me well, though, until I bought a 802.11g PCMCIA card.

There’s also a free ndiswrapper driver, which I haven’t tried.

Anyway, at some point in time Intel finally got around releasing a free native Linux driver for the PRO/Wireless 2100 card.

Besides following the instructions, I only had to make one change. My kernel doesn’t have some code to download firmware to the wifi card, so I had to edit the Makefile and uncomment the line

CONFIG_IPW2100_LEGACY_FW_LOAD=y

After a “make” and a “make install” I could load the driver with

modprobe ipw2100

which gave me this in my kernel log:

ieee80211_crypt: registered algorithm 'NULL'
ieee80211: loading with WEP enabled.
ipw2100: Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2100 Network Driver, 0.51
ipw2100: Copyright(c) 2003-2004 Intel Corporation
ipw2100: Compiled with LEGACY FW load.
ipw2100: 01:05.0: Detected at mem: 0xFF7FF000-0xFF7FFFFF -> e01bc000, irq: 5
eth1: Using legacy firmware load.
eth1: Bound to 01:05.0

The driver automatically associates with the nearest access point, but in understands the commands of the wireless extensions, so it can be configured with iwconfig.

Atheros 802.11g PCMCIA card

Sunday, July 25th, 2004

I have a couple of no-name 802.11g PCMCIA/Cardbus cards, which I use in two different laptops, both running Debian Linux (testing). They are marked “WLB2054PCM” on the front, and “Model GL245401-1A1” and “FCC ID: 07J-GL245401-1A1” on the back.

The card is identified by cardctl as:

product info: "Atheros Communications, Inc.", "AR5001-0000-0000", "Wireless LAN Reference Card", "00"
  manfid: 0x0271, 0x0012
  function: 6 (network)

and by lspci as:

0000:02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications, Inc. AR5212 802.11abg NIC (rev 01)

The Atheros chip-set is supported by the madwifi driver, which is not a part of the standard Linux kernel, but it can be downloaded from http://sourceforge.net/projects/madwifi/. For me it compiled and installed without a hitch.

When the driver is loaded, it gives this output:

PCI: Enabling device 02:00.0 (0000 -> 0002)
ath_pci: cache line size not set; forcing 32
ath0: mac 5.9 phy 4.3 5ghz radio 4.6
ath0: 11b rates: 1Mbps 2Mbps 5.5Mbps 11Mbps
ath0: 11g rates: 1Mbps 2Mbps 5.5Mbps 11Mbps 6Mbps 9Mbps 12Mbps 18Mbps 24Mbps 36Mbps 48Mbps 54Mbps
ath0: 802.11 address: 00:03:2f:1e:33:72
ath0: Atheros 5212: mem=0x20000000, irq=3

As is evident, the card comes up as ath0, not as ethN.

The card is not known to the pcmcia-cs tools, so I had to add it manually to /etc/pcmcia/config-2.4 by adding these two stanzas:

device "atheros"
  class "network" module "ath_pci"

card "Atheros WiFi card"
  manfid: 0x0271, 0x0012
  bind "atheros"

This causes the driver to load automatically when the card is inserted into the laptop.

I had added a stanza for ath0 to /etc/network/interfaces, but the card was still not configured automatically when inserted, even if the driver was loaded. I had hotplug installed on one of the laptops but not on the other, but neither hotplug would ifup the card without some manual intervention. After some research I discovered that if I added the following to /etc/network/interfaces, hotplug would configure it automatically when it was inserted:

mapping hotplug
        script grep
        map ath0

With all this in place, the card works perfectly. I have still, after well over a month of using it continuously, to experience a problem, a dropped association or a lock-up.

UPDATE 2004-08-06:
I just updated to the latest driver, with no problem whatsoever. The output was:

wlan: 0.8.3.0 (EXPERIMENTAL)
ath_hal: 0.9.11.6
ath_pci: 0.9.3.1 (EXPERIMENTAL)
ath0: 11b rates: 1Mbps 2Mbps 5.5Mbps 11Mbps
ath0: 11g rates: 1Mbps 2Mbps 5.5Mbps 11Mbps 6Mbps 9Mbps 12Mbps 18Mbps 24Mbps 36Mbps 48Mbps 54Mbps
ath0: mac 5.9 phy 4.3 5ghz radio 4.6
ath0: 802.11 address: 00:03:2f:1e:33:72
ath0: Use hw queue 0 for WME_AC_BE traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 1 for WME_AC_BK traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 2 for WME_AC_VI traffic
ath0: Use hw queue 3 for WME_AC_VO traffic
ath0: Atheros 5212: mem=0x20000000, irq=3

VMware and Wireless Networks

Thursday, July 22nd, 2004

I have just installed the 30 days trial version of VMware on my laptop.

It has a double purpose in my case: home banking and cross browser testing of websites. Currently both require access to MSIE. I know there are banks with home banking systems that work with Linux/Mozilla, and I also use one such bank, but I have good pecuniary reasons to stay with one Danish bank that doesn’t. Website testing requires access to several versions of MSIE to be sure.

VMware doesn’t support Debian systems as the host OS, but it works quite well, nonetheless. It is a funny feeling watch Windows boot in a window ๐Ÿ™‚ but also reassuring to know it happens in a sandbox.

The only problem I had was getting the VM to communicate with the rest of the world through my wireless NIC. If I set up the normal eth0 interface as a bridged interface in the VM, everything was fine, but if I switched it to the wireless (an Atheros based card using the madwifi driver), there were no connection. After many tries I got the VM to communicate with the world outside using a NAT interface.

Only later I discovered here that it is not possible to use a wireless NIC as a bridged interface wth VMware. There is a short thread about this on VMwares support forum.