Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why Wireless is a Mess in Linux?

wireless is a mess in linuxWhile some people cried "Linux Desktop Year" as early as 5 years ago, it still lacks in many areas and it lacks badly in case of wireless configuration.

These days I am working at vikarta.com for their alwaysonvacation.com. We are a team of SEOs and content writers. SEOs need some windows based software for research and analysis. But the content team just needed an office suite, a web browser and a dictionary. In my view I had openoffice, firefox and wordnet to perfectly fit the bill. At this juncture I thought of deploying Linux for the content team but the wireless mess ruined everything.

I tried Mandriva Powerpack first on my notebook. The installation went pretty smooth and wired networks were detected automatically. But establishing wireless network was an uphill task. I struggled head on for quite long but still could not get it working properly. I have broadcom wlan card. Here I would request everyone to inform me if they find a linux distro that supports this card on the fly. No manual configuration.

First I tried with pulling the mandriva repo for latest drivers. Could not succeed. Then I installed windows drivers with ndiswrapper followed by configuration with iwconfig and ifconfig. Though it worked (not as good as it works in windows xp) like a lame the real problem was switching between wireless and wired interfaces.

Having told the whole story it is really difficult of individual hardware vendors (of wlan cards) to have supply a unified wireless driver stack owing to be multiplicity of distributions and consistency in installation of a particular driver across various releases of a particular distribution. I think the big complaint with migration to Linux is and has always been wireless compatibility.

Some people say Linux has better support for Intel wireless cards, but everybody knows Broadcom rules the race. May be the situation will improve with PCLinuxOS 2008 Full official release or Mepis 7 or Mandriva 2009 but that's a long way to go....

4 comments:

deuts said...

I also have problems with my wireless for Ubuntu Heron (see my post). My wireless also doesn't work in Mandriva 2008. I've tried the minime 2008 but currently with OpenSuse. Just waiting for the release of the full version in 2008, and hope my wireless card will work.

manmath sahu said...

for those broadcom cards i am very hopeful on pclinuxos 2008 and mepis 8. it seems pclinuxos is around the corner, but next mepis release is far away, may be after a year.

Fabrice said...

Just quick notes :

+ ndiswrapepr is supported directly by drakconnect. Start drakconnect, when asked, select ndiswrapper, it will ask to select the sys file, and then validate.

+ switching from wireless to ethernet : with mandi/net_applet, the system will switch automatically from wireless to ethernet if ethernet is plugged.

manmath sahu said...

fabrice,

i followed your instructions only to get in ditch.... after i installed broadcom driver from windows by ndiswraper the system is taking forever to shutdown with an error message.

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