Wireless Troubleshooting Guide

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APPENDIX GUIDE A-5

Troubleshooting steps
Wireless problems can be tricky. However, there are ways we can narrow down what is causing the problem. Follow these troubleshooting steps in order, and ask a fellow builder or instructor for help if you have questions.
☐ Check and see if any available proprietary wireless drivers are available to install.

  • Do NOT install Broadcom STA Drivers if they are present; see Broadcom Wireless information below
  • Open Menu >> Settings >> Additional Drivers.
  • You will need to be connected via an ethernet cable to install any proprietary drivers detected.

☐ Click on the WiFi icon, and make sure that the option for Enable Wireless is checked.

  • If it is enabled, select the FreeGeek network from the menu.
  • If it is greyed out, your connection may be disabled from software, a physical switch or BIOS.

☐ Look the laptop chassis up and down for a wireless switch. These can be easy to miss. If you find one, make sure the switch is turned on.
☐ Check the keyboard for a key combination to enable/disable wireless. These are often a number key plus the function (Fn) key.
☐ Reboot to BIOS. Sometimes there is an option in BIOS to disable/enable a mini-PCI or Wireless device. If so, make sure that you enable it.
☐ Boot back to Xubuntu. Open a terminal and run the command:

lspci | grep -i wireless

Any wireless device recognized by the system should be listed. If the first command does not give any result then try:

lspci | grep -i network

This may give multiple results including the wired network connection, so check the output closely for an indication that one of the listed devices is a wireless card. This will usually include 802.11b/g/n

  • If the card is not recognized, it could be a bad card, or bad PCI slot. Try swapping out the card.
  • If the card is recognized as a "Broadcom" branded card you may need to install special firmware; see further instructions below.
  • If the card is recognized, or you're not sure, ask your instructor. Advanced troubleshooting is likely needed.

Tip

rfkill list all

This command can be very helpful when trying to figure out why wireless is disabled. Look for the Wireless LAN section.

  • If there is a soft block, wireless is likely a keyboard combination switch.
  • If there is a hard block, wireless is likely either disabled in BIOS, or disabled via a physical switch.

If you are having trouble remov ing a block (both soft and hard), you can try manually unblocking all devices with the command:

sudo rfkill unblock all

Broadcom Wireless
If the result of lspci | grep -i network includes Broadcom Corporation BCM43xx (xx being any combination of additional numbers) then the laptop may require special firmware to make use of the included wireless card.
☐ Enable the "Multiverse" repository.

  • Connect an ethernet cable and make sure you have an active network connection.
  • Open Menu >> System >> Synaptic Package Manager.
  • In Synaptic Package Manager, open Settings >> Repositories.
  • In the Software Sources window that appears, look under the Ubuntu Software tab and select the checkbox labelled "Software restricted by copyright or legal issues (multiverse)"
  • Click the Close button in the software sources window, then click the Reload button at the top left of the Synaptic Package Manager window.
  • Quit Synaptic Package Manager

☐ Install Broadcom Firmware

sudo apt-get purge bcmwl*
sudo apt-get install b43-fwcutter firmware-b43-installer

☐ Reboot the system and check if wireless can now be enabled.

  • You may need to repeat earlier troubleshooting steps after the firmware has been installed if wireless networking does not work immediately.
  • Check with your instructor if the network manager is still indicating that firmware is missing.