2008/03/27

HOWTO: Linux Mint WiFi

Introduction

If Linux Mint is not able to autodetect your WiFi network card you have to install the drivers manually, but first you need to identify the chipset used by your WiFi card. You do that in a terminal with this command:
lspci
First, let me say there are two ways to install those drivers, the first one is using the drivers for Windows that came with your card, installing them with ndiswrapper, which can be accessed from Linux Mint Administration menu, Windows Wireless Drivers. I tried this method and didn't work for me.

The other way to make your WiFi card operational is to use the Linux drivers provided by MadWifi, if your card's chipset is supported; mine is so here we go.

Madwifi in Linux Mint

The following are instructions I used in Linux Mint 4.0 Daryna Main Edition (Gnome).

NOTE: Linux Mint is based in the latest release of Ubuntu and this later distro is based in Debian GNU/Linux.

Package Installation

If after booting Linux Mint you can get online through a wired connection all you have to install is the following:

First you need to download the madwifi-source debian package for the testing distribution from here, since it is not in the Ubuntu repositories which Linux Mint uses by default.

Open a terminal in the folder you saved madwifi-source and install like this:
sudo dpkg -i madwifi-source_0.9.4~rc2-1_all.deb

During the process Linux Mint will also automatically download and install some dependencies needed by that package.

Then, install madwifi-tools like this

sudo apt-get install madwifi-tools

If you are not able to get online through a wired connection, you will have to use another PC to download all the packages and their dependencies that you will need, which later you will copy to a USB drive to access them when you boot the LiveCD.

First you need to download the madwifi-source debian package for the testing distribution from here, since it is not in the Ubuntu repositories which Linux Mint uses by default.

Then you will download the following packages from the Ubuntu package search engine. In this case I filter the searches to show only packages for the gutsy distribution, which is current release which Linux Mint is based on.

  • libc6
  • libc6-i686
  • linux-libc-dev
  • libc6-dev
  • libstdc++6-4.1-dev
  • g++
  • build-essential
  • html2text
  • debhelper
  • module-assistant
  • madwifi-tools

With all those packages copied to the flash drive, and the flash drive connected to your target PC, boot Linux Mint, open a terminal in the folder containing the packages and install in the following order:

sudo dpkg -i libc6_2.6.1-1ubuntu9_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i libc6-i686_2.6.1-1ubuntu9_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i linux-libc-dev_2.6.22-14.52_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i libc6-dev_2.6.1-1ubuntu9_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i libstdc++6-4.1-dev_4.1.2-16ubuntu2_i386.deb g++-4.1_4.1.2-16ubuntu2_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i g++_4.1.2-9ubuntu2_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i build-essential_11.3ubuntu1_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i html2text_1.3.2a-3build1_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i debhelper_5.0.51ubuntu3_all.deb
sudo dpkg -i module-assistant_0.10.11_all.deb
sudo dpkg -i madwifi-source_0.9.4~rc2-1_all.deb
sudo dpkg -i madwifi-tools_0.9.3+dfsg-1_i386.deb

Module installation

Now you will use module assistant, which helpt to make the madwifi module installation easy.

sudo m-a prepare
sudo m-a a-i madwifi

Finally, load the module:

sudo modprobe ath_pci

Network configuration

Your access point is On and already connected to the network, right? Well, so now you only have to configure the network connection.

Left click on the network icon (2 PCs) in the system tray and click on "Connect to other wireless networks".

Type in the name of your network (aka SSID).

Select the authentication type used by the access point from the dropdown list.

Enter your network password.

Finally, Linux Mint will ask you to enter a password for the keyring, where the network password will be saved to automate the log-in later.

Voila! You're on-line! Are you?