Monday, August 25, 2008

I Feel Stupid And Triumphant

For years I haven't been able to run Linux on my laptop because my wireless card is not supported on Ubuntu. Dell used several different Broadcom chipsets in different runs of the laptop I got, and I had the bad luck to get the ONE chipset that is completely unsupported on Linux. The model stepping BEFORE this wireless card works, and the one after, but this one just proved to be too tough a nut to crack for the Linux driver people. By a ridiculous stroke of bad luck it ALSO has a Windows driver which can't be used with the NDIS wrapper. Trust me I've tried everything; many sleepless nights to no avail.

But in an unrelated project, I've been playing with these WRAP PC Engines router boards that I got for free because they were lightning damaged. A couple of them had mini-PCI wireless cards attached to them. These cards use Atheros chipsets, which are the most well-supported wireless chips under Linux. They would fit in my laptop, but I didn't think they worked because I could never get them to work in any of the WRAP boards. Plus I imagined tearing down the laptop to find the wireless card inside it would be a pain in the butt, so I put off actually swapping in a card to check if it worked.

When I upgraded the RAM in my laptop today I found out that the wireless card is not hidden in the bowels of the machine; it's just located under the same access panel with the RAM! I also had had the WRAP boards out and I noticed that the Atheros wireless cards I had weren't just crappy wireless "B" cards, they were really wireless "G". So I finally swapped one in and it worked! I'm writing this post from Ubuntu Linux now on my laptop, wirelessly! Yipee!

Then I realized that I could have done this six months ago. Now I feel stupid.
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