Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

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Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby dave1234 » 2018-05-01 20:21

Hi all - I'm new to Debian, and one thing I've noticed is that under Windows 7 (x64), I can see around 4 wifi connections when I'm home. Under Debian (x64), I see only one (my own). I installed the iwlwifi firmware, plasma-nm, and am using the Network widget to connect to wifi.

I have a Lenovo Thinkpad T520i. It uses Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1000 for wifi. Mostly my thinking is that it would useful to connect to weaker signals (e.g., at a library, airport, on an airplane, etc.) - which I can do currently in Windows, but can't in Debian because the signals won't even show up.

Any ideas on the reasons behind this and if there's any way to fix it?

Thanks
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby bw123 » 2018-05-01 20:55

dave1234 wrote:Hi all - I'm new to Debian, and one thing I've noticed is that under Windows 7 (x64), I can see around 4 wifi connections when I'm home. Under Debian (x64), I see only one (my own). I installed the iwlwifi firmware, plasma-nm, and am using the Network widget to connect to wifi.

I have a Lenovo Thinkpad T520i. It uses Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1000 for wifi. Mostly my thinking is that it would useful to connect to weaker signals (e.g., at a library, airport, on an airplane, etc.) - which I can do currently in Windows, but can't in Debian because the signals won't even show up.

Any ideas on the reasons behind this and if there's any way to fix it?

Thanks


Have you been to the airport or the library? How do you know they won't show up? I have noticed that on plasma desktop, once connected I see no other networks. It does seem strange, and I don't understand it myself. However, when traveling around, I do still see all the usual networks, until I connect to one. I don't know if this behavior can be tweaked, but I think it would be a good idea... Let me know if you find out? And if you find it documented anywhere. Thanks.

p.s. There are other ways to scan, so maybe that might be worth exploring, try pkg iw, the older iwlist from wireless-tools, or the wpa_cli command if you want to get your hands dirty.
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby dave1234 » 2018-05-01 21:18

My point is that weaker networks are not showing up at all, either when I'm connected or not. I've only tested Debian vs. Windows at home - but it's pretty clear that weaker signals, which are common in public areas, for example - aren't showing up. Signals which have two or three bars out of five in Windows don't show up at all in Debian, so it's pretty obvious that with other signals of similar strength - which is what I generally experience in public places - I won't be able to connect to in Debian.

I'll try the other commands you mention.
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby bw123 » 2018-05-01 21:24

dave1234 wrote:My point is that weaker networks are not showing up at all, either when I'm connected or not. I've only tested Debian vs. Windows at home - but it's pretty clear that weaker signals, which are common in public areas, for example - aren't showing up. Signals which have two or three bars out of five in Windows don't show up at all in Debian, so it's pretty obvious that with other signals of similar strength - which is what I generally experience in public places - I won't be able to connect to in Debian.

I'll try the other commands you mention.


bars don't mean crap, it's a fancy advertising slogan. look at the dB readings. There could be some issues with the device, but do some research before you assume that.

p.s. The topic title is not true. This was a poor choice of words to make a blanket statement like that. I have not used windows in years, but I really doubt that debian vs. windows has "many fewer wifi connections" visible in general. If you can show some evidence, using at least three wifi devices, that would add credibility to your statement.
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby jibberjabber » 2018-05-02 02:22

Debian vs. Windows

Just what we need , another Debian verses Windows thread, if the OP loves windows that much, heck from what I hear you can now buy Windows and even have Debian included in it,...I suppose the "best of both worlds"
http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=137273#p671494

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/p/debian-gnu-linux/9msvkqc78pk6

So if the OP really believes this is a problem with Debian, they can buy MSwindows, and get Debian included at no additional charge, use the Windows for their wifi, needs and the Debian tinker toy for entertainment.
Please edit the subject line and add "solved" to it, if that solves the problem :mrgreen:

dave1234 wrote:
My point is that weaker networks are not showing up at all,

Maybe some sort of antenna ?
Trying to use weak connection, even if they do show is sort of like taking a leak in the wind, it really does not work very well, the wifi signals don't change because of a OS, if they are to weak to use , they shouldn't show, using windows malware, is not going to make the signals stronger.
N5RLX > "Jibber jabber jibber jabber,all day and all night, jibber jabber jibber jabber"

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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby dave1234 » 2018-05-02 02:32

If I "loved Windows" I wouldn't be on here or migrating to Debian.

It was a simple question from a new user who's mostly unfamiliar with Debian and a snide response wasn't necessary.
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby dcihon » 2018-05-02 10:04

Yeah you have to be careful how you word things here.
There seems to be this attitude here of slamming people first.
There are some good people here also that want to help.
Just ignore them.
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby sunrat » 2018-05-02 12:18

Yeah, just ignore jibberjabber. He doesn't use Windows so takes every opportunity when it's mentioned to espouse his unwanted opinion.
This is a Debian forum so everyone here uses Debian, usually in preference to Windows. Some of us even use a current version of Debian. It doesn't mean we all totally hate Windows or think it isn't of some use. Personally I use it for games, and some professional audio recording for which Linux software or drivers are not available. It works ok but I prefer Linux for most things.

Try this command as root, substituting your actual interface name for "wlan0" if it's different:
Code: Select all
iwlist wlan0 scan

Here it shows a bunch of access points that don't appear in NM.
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby n_hologram » 2018-05-02 17:07

I read somewhere that iwlist is deprecated, and iw is now the accepted wifi utility. (Personally, I still use iwconfig.)
So, you could try something like...
Code: Select all
iw dev interface scan

where interface is the name of your network interface, which can be found with ifconfig.

The old-style (again, my preference) network interface nomenclature would look something like what sunrat suggested: wlan0 or something.

However, systemd now uses "predictable network interface names," a new way of naming your network interfaces. Personally, I don't care for this because it looks atrocious, and I understand my system well enough to not need it. In any case, your network interface would not be wlan0, but might be some long string of letters and numbers, similar to something like this: wlx0024d7e31130

iw guide: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Wi ... figuration (I know, it's arch, but I can't actually find a debian guide for iw)
predictable network interface names guide, including how to disable it: https://globalroot.wordpress.com/2015/0 ... ace-names/
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby Wheelerof4te » 2018-05-02 17:14

Maybe it the public vs private networks thing? Have you experienced any difficulties when connected to your wi-fi? Is the signal strong?
My wi-fi connection is much better in Debian than on Windows. That's one of the strong reasons I migrated, actually. And it's Broadcom card!
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby bw123 » 2018-05-02 20:40

I don't think anybody was snide, hey, the topic title is inflammatory and it's factually wrong, but that's no big deal. Apologies if that offends, but factual errors need to be corrected.

Anyway, yeah I have and older device, a broadcom on and old netbook and it came preinstalled with win7, with a downgrade offered to xp. I tried both and both had issues with wireless, and sometimes networks would show up, disappear, reappear, drop out, whatever. Especially wireless G with 2400 band it seems to be affected by all kinds of interference, especially overlapping wifi networks.

On debian wifi has been rock solid, but I did have a learning curve with network-manager. It's still not my favorite tool, it's slow, and a little tricky to understand. I do like the idea of finding ways to tweak it, like how often it scans, how it displays scannned network, etc. So keep me informed if the thread goes anywhere?

But in general I don't think there is any known issue with debian specifically and weaker wifi signals..? I could be wrong, so show me.

I have an old dlink router and hacked it with dd-wrt a few yrs ago, and it has a really wild scan function built into it. It draws a visual real-time graph of nearby access points. I haven't used it in a long while now, but at the time I recall reading a lot about how APs drop out and change channel often to adapt to traffic. These things are complicated, but very interesting if you ever want to explore. Linux has a lot of tools to analyze all kinds of network issues.
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby n_hologram » 2018-05-02 21:33

^speaking of utilities, OP should probably check out kismet.
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby dave1234 » 2018-05-02 23:11

Well, thanks for the additional responses, and I'll look into everything that was mentioned. About the title being inflammatory and factually wrong, at least in terms it being inflammatory that definitely wasn't my intention, that was just my observation as a new user. I have spent a couple years with a single-boot Kubuntu install but am going back to Linux from Windows and with Debian, there's a lot for new users like myself to learn.
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby dave1234 » 2018-05-24 21:23

Well I installed Debian - previously I was using live sessions - and now it seems fine, I see three wifi connections which is what I was typically seeing over the past few weeks in Windows. Maybe it was some difference between the live sessions vs. the installation, or possibly just some weird fluke. But, it's fine now.

Thanks for the advice and this is good stuff to know.
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Re: Many fewer wifi connections seen in Debian vs. Windows

Postby Wowfunhappy » 2018-05-31 16:47

Can you confirm that you're actually able to connect to those weak wifi networks that are only appearing in Windows?

One thing that really annoys me in Windows (and macOS, and my iPhone) is that it will often show these networks that are too weak to actually connect to. I'll try, and it will churn for a while, and then it will eventually tell me that the network could not be joined and that I should try moving closer to the access point.

If Debian isn't showing these networks, that's an improvement in my eyes. Don't show me things I can't use!
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