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Linux and the wireless network driver

By jck ·
OK, ladies and gents (and those who don't want to be classified as either):

Over the weekend, I downloaded and did default installs of 6 flavors of Linux onto the new drive I received on Friday. Linspire seems to have been the only Linux that, by default, found and loaded a driver for my Xterasys 802.11b wireless network card.

Being as I haven't messed with Linux in about 6-7 years, I can't remember a lot about the OS. Plus, now it's GUI and all I remember is command-line interfaces.

Do most Linux distros have a tool now to load a driver, or do I need to do this manually still? I know that I saw an interface for loading drivers for a device, but I didn't see the appropriate one for mine in the list and I didn't see an equivalent to the Microsloth "Browse" button.

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Driver Frustration

by dingletec In reply to Linux and the wireless ne ...

The nice thing about linux is that when things work, they work very well. There is, however, quite a bit of frustration in the area of device drivers. I believe the problem is with hardware manufacturers and vendors not wanting to publish documentation for open source drivers to be written. There are programs you can purchase for linux (linuxant?) that allow you to install the proprietary binary drivers for Windows on linux, but I prefer to research hardware that works on linux already and purchase those.

I don't always get to use the latest and greatest devices (wireless cards, etc) out there, but I do save a ton of money purchasing used computers and hardware. Or I purchase the hardware new when the prices have reached a comfortable range for me. This is not what people who always buy new want to hear when they are trying out Linux for the first time, but in my opinion, the only way to truly benefit from Linux is to take advantage of the second hand market. I always have the latest operating system, which seems to run better on my older hardware with each new release. So I 5 laptops (3 I frequently use), a couple of desktops, and one system I use as a server. My priorities and budget have changed drastically with wife and kids, but somehow I have more toys than I know what to do with. And shelves of parts in the garage. It has required a change in perspective from the Wintel norm, which I have benefitted from.

That's just my daily rant, but if you are truly interested in trying/using Linux, do some research before hand to see if your hardware will work. It's easy to be frustrated with Linux for the situation we are in that open source developers have no control over. MS doesn't write drivers for off the shelf hardware, so there is no reason to expect more out of Linux.

Everything is made for Windows, and sometimes you have to wait for devices to be supported in Linux. That's just the way things are right now. I wouldn't trade it for Windows though, every week or so I upgrade the OS and every program on it for free over the internet. Too many benefits to Linux to even become interested in Windows or OSX, cool as some things are.

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driver wrappers

by apotheon In reply to Driver Frustration

Actually, Linuxant is for modems, not wireless network adapters.

Just about any 802.11 adapter that isn't supported by a Linux driver can be used with the Windows driver, by way of a "wrapper" for the driver. The wrappers act as a translator between the Windows driver and the Linux OS.

The two wrappers that exist and cover almost all wireless cards are MADWiFi and NdisWrapper. You need to figure out which one of these supports the chipset in your wireless adapter.

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NDISWrapper

by jck In reply to driver wrappers

Yeah...did some reading and apparently NDISWrapper covers mine. Now, I just gotta find the stinkin Windows driver disk...hahaha

I'm also going to work on looking for drivers for my Lexmark printer. Amazingly, I think most of the distros recognized all my USB hardware and installed drivers.

This Linux thing is gonna start taking away from my online gaming and Jerry Springer watching. I'm gonna need rehab...but, what a way to go nuts, eh?

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linspire is

by Jaqui In reply to Linux and the wireless ne ...

the only completely proprietary version of linux.
it used to be known as lindows.

it's the last version most linux users would pick.

wireless device support for most distros is spotty.
mandrake, xandros, fedora, and debian have tools for loading device drivers and editing initscripts automatically.

just have to search for the driver sources and build them to make use, if the distro doesn't have them already.
if it didn't recognise and install during installation then the distro doesn't have drivers for the device. ( or you deselected the packages that would provide the device driver )

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hmmm....

by bigb0b In reply to linspire is

What do you mean by "completely proprietary"? To me, that phrase is reserved for OSes like Windows where you have NO access to change anything. You can obtain the source to Linspire.

Why would you say that its the "last version most linux users would pick"? It doesn't seem to me that it is any less "Linux" than any other distro.

I'm not trying to pick a fight, I'm just curious where your conclusions are coming from.

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Eliteism/Snobbery

by Mantei Woodcraft Ltd. In reply to hmmm....

I suspect his reference to most linux users would mean those tech users in an IT related environment and not the home user, which I suppose is probably true enough.

Whether Linspire has the stones to make it in that environment I can't say but for the mainstream non-tech desktop user it's the best choice of any of the available Linux distro's. Linspire makes Linux easy for the non-tech user by hiding everything that would scare them away. Particularly those that seek an alternative to Windows because they have an axe to grind with Microsoft for one reason or another.

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Installs, drivers and research

by jck In reply to Linux and the wireless ne ...

(Pardon me replying at the same level, but I hate that max msg level being reached stuff)

True...research is always good. I am just trying to get what I've got with my wireless card.

I've found the driver on a few sites, so that will get used downloaded and burned to CD tonight.

To be honest, I liked the look and speed of Mandrake as well as Linspire, but I get an odd feeling that I'll lose ability to learn the "guts". Maybe that's just a gun shy attitude precipitated with watching my skills go downhill from starting with MS-DOS3 to now Windows XP where it takes an act of God to find a setting you can change manually. Plus, I have a lot to learn about Linux and its various incarnations that have morphed since 1998-1999.

Tonight's activity is going to be to try and make the driver from the source code, or use a pre-compiled version from a different flavor (I currently have Mandrake 10.1 installed) than what I have, or I will get NDISWrapper and use the Windows/MS-DOS driver to see if I can get it to work.

I did notice in one tech article I found, it says that you have to ifconfig the card with an IP, then iwconfig it somehow, the ifconfig it again to start/open the device (losing my memory...sorry). My Netgear wireless router has DHCP and what not. I was hoping to get it to auto-assign the IP once the driver worked and the encryption passed its test. Anyone have good references for config websites for cheap wireless PCI net cards?

Once I have it up and working, I will try and email myself MS documents saved in various formats to see how open the OpenOffice application is with MS Office apps.

This whole thing has me clicking again. I've been getting bored with MS because the only thing I ever get to do technically is the button that opens and closes the CD drive.

The .NET programmer is being converted...slowly...

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with mandrake

by Jaqui In reply to Installs, drivers and res ...

go to configure your computer, select boot options, then remove the graphic theme
then go to graphics server ( xorg ) and set to not start at boot ( runlevel 3 )
then you are starting in console, with support for gui if/when desired.
that way you can easily learn the guts, without any problems getting to console, and without all the gui bells 'n whistles.

mandrake's strength for new users is the configuration wizards, makes it simple to have everything running for new users.

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I will...

by jck In reply to with mandrake

check those out in about 1 hour when I get home from work.

Ya know, I'm having dreams of grandeur...getting good at Linux...converting my programming prowess to Linux...and writing the mods to Linux that make GATES WORTH...1 MILLLLLION DOLLARS! SO HE ONLY LIVES IN A 10,000 SQ FT HOUSE!

AH HA HA HA HA (big evil tone) >:)

(seriously...thanks for the advice. very much appreciated :) )

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grandeur lost...

by jck In reply to Linux and the wireless ne ...

OK...I'm hoping by the time morning rolls around, someone will see this and have pity on me...

I was trying to get the files for the drivers for the wireless card to the Linux drive...but when I tried burning an ISO disk for Linux on the Windows XP machine, I can't make one.

Can someone tell me a website with info on how to get the files from Windows to Linux so I can load the driver for the card?

Once I'm on the net from the Linux box, I think it'll be easier from there.

God...the frustration level...knuckles getting white...hanging on...

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