getting WiFi working...

Kernels & Hardware, configuring network, installing services

getting WiFi working...

Postby mzimmers » 2017-10-04 22:53

...I know this has been asked about a million times (I did some searching before posting), but I can't find the answer I'm looking for.

Here's my information:

mzimmers@debian:~$ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Debian
Description: Debian GNU/Linux 8.9 (jessie)
Release: 8.9
Codename: jessie
mzimmers@debian:~$ lspci -k | grep -i network -A 2
02:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4352 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter (rev 03)
Subsystem: AzureWave Device 2123
mzimmers@debian:~$


I tried installing both firmware-b43-installer (unable to locate) and bcmwl-kernel-source (modprobe returned a modprobe: FATAL: Module wl not found). Can someone give me an idea of what I'm doing wrong? Thanks...
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby Bulkley » 2017-10-04 23:14

Add non-free to your sources.list. Then install the firmware.
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby RU55EL » 2017-10-04 23:26

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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby mzimmers » 2017-10-05 01:12

I added "non-free" to /etc/apt/sources.list, restarted, did an apt-get update and tried to reinstall. I'm still getting the "unable to locate package firmware-b43-driver."

Did I miss a step?
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby Bulkley » 2017-10-05 01:31

Code: Select all
apt-get update && apt-get install firmware-b43-installer
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby mzimmers » 2017-10-05 01:44

Thanks...now, two questions, please:

  • why did that work where the individual commands didn't (I changed "driver" to "installer" and it still didn't work by itself).
  • how do I run the installer now that I've successfully done the apt-get?

I still don't see a wireless choice in my network settings, and I don't seem to have the "iwconfig" command on my system.

Thanks...
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby shep » 2017-10-05 18:19

why did that work where the individual commands didn't (I changed "driver" to "installer" and it still didn't work by itself).


apt-get update -> Fetches a list of available packages from a usually remote server. The list changes frequently and you should get a new list before adding/updating any new software.
apt-get install -> Retrieves the package from the server and installs the package. Package names must match exactly.
apt-get upgrade -> Compares the list of available packages. If a newer package is available it retrieves the new package from the server, deletes the old package and installs the new one.

man apt-get -> Tells you how to use the "apt-get" command.

command1 && command2 -> If command1 executes successfully proceed to command2. Compare with command1; command2 -> Do command1 and even if it fails proceed to commnad2.

Debian is in the process of replacing "apt-get" with "apt". Both will work for now.

how do I run the installer now that I've successfully done the apt-get?


The firmware should be installed.
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby mzimmers » 2017-10-05 19:29

Thanks, shep. I still don't understand why my individual apt-get commands didn't work yesterday; maybe I was rushing and overlooked something (that's been known to happen).

Would I expect to see the drivers in the list of available connections in my Network settings? Because currently nothing looks different there.
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby stevepusser » 2017-10-05 19:37

Also remember that the OP is running Jessie, and the 3.16 kernel may not support his device with an internal driver..and I'm not sure if even newer kernels will, either. Needs more research, obviously.

mzimmers wrote:Thanks, shep. I still don't understand why my individual apt-get commands didn't work yesterday; maybe I was rushing and overlooked something (that's been known to happen).
.


They failed because you were following instructions for Ubuntu, not Debian. Follow the wiki guide to build the "wl" non-free driver for Debian Jessie that has already been linked above; this is immensely easier for you since you have a wired connection to install the build-depends. I haven't found anything about the in-kernel driver supporting the 4352, so the firmware install is probably all for nothing. Just in case you don't know, you have an older version of Debian; if you do decide to use Stretch, the instructions would be the same.

In the worst case, it's possible for another user running the same kernel to build and give you the installable deb of the actual nonfree "wl" driver; I've already done that a few times for users that were dependent on the wi-fi for a Net connection. Check what otherwise must be done on an isolated machine here: https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebia ... 013%209343
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby shep » 2017-10-05 20:07

I overlooked that Broadcom is not OpenSource friendly on my previous post. What you actually installed was a script to download the firmware from Broadcom and install it. Unfortunately, your new 11ac device is not listed in the description.

All is not lost but it remains complicated. You have to download the source code and compile a new kernel module.

A quick web search on Debian and DKMS.

At the end of the process you will learn why most experienced Debian users advocate choosing hardware from manufacturers who provide open drivers ie Atheros, Ralink Intel.
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby stevepusser » 2017-10-06 02:07

Mmmmm...most of the wi-fi hardware for those mfrs. also need non-free firmware. It's just that this Broadcom chip also needs a non-free driver.

Install module-assistant

run as sysadmin

Code: Select all
m-a prepare


Code: Select all
apt install broadcom-sta-dkms


Watch the driver build.
Reboot or modprobe the "wl" module.
Done.
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby mzimmers » 2017-10-06 11:45

Thanks, Steve - that worked. I now have a WiFi option in my Network Settings. (I still can't connect -- it doesn't seem to like the password -- but that's another problem.)
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby shep » 2017-10-06 14:40

Mmmmm...most of the wi-fi hardware for those mfrs. also need non-free firmware.


There is a spectrum of what device manufacturers provide:

Some will allow their non-free firmware (AMD/ATI) to be distributed on the installation media. Debian and Ubuntu differ in that Debian will not distribute firmware on the default installation media unless the firmware code is open. This is why there are forum questions about a wireless device that worked on Ubuntu but does not work, out of the box, in Debian.

Other manufacturers also supply driver specs (Ralink) which help Kernel developers to write the code. Intel actually has developers that contribute to the Linux code base.

NVidia keeps the specs secret and provides their own driver for a limited number of distributions. OpenSource coders had to reverse engineer the Nouveau driver which was not a small task. Some manufacturers provide nothing, the Sis video drivers were totally reverse engineered.

As a consumer, you vote with your money.
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby mzimmers » 2017-10-06 14:46

So, for future reference, which board manufacturers should I be giving my patronage?

I guess I could just buy another WiFi adapter and use that instead, too, right?
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Re: getting WiFi working...

Postby shep » 2017-10-06 17:44

From https://wiki.debian.org/WiFi:

Free software based systems such as Debian depend on the cooperation between manufacturers and developers to produce and maintain quality drivers and firmware. Drivers and firmware are what determine if and how well your hardware works.

Debian's Social Contract mandates the freeing of the distribution. In practice this means manufacturers are required to cooperate by releasing specifications and free drivers that can be worked on by the community. Newer versions of Debian (6+) do not include non-free drivers or firmware.

Non-free drivers and firmware are produced by companies refusing or unable to cooperate with the free software community. With non-free drivers and firmware support is often unavailable or severely strained. For instance features are often left out, bugs go unfixed, and what support does exist from the manufacture is fleeting.

By encouraging good social practices the community is able to support end-users. Complex installation procedures are no longer required and support continues long after a product has been discontinued.

Currently there are only a few modern wifi chipsets readily available that work with free software systems. For USB wifi devices this list includes the Realtek RTL8187B chipset (802.11G) and the Atheros AR9170 chipset (802.11N). For Mini PCIe all cards with an Atheros chipset are supported.

Wifi has always been a problem for free software users. USB Wifi cards are becoming less free. With the older 802.11G standard many USB wifi cards had free drivers and did not require non-free firmware. With 802.11N there is only one chipset on the market from Atheros which is completely free.

One company which specialises in free software and sells 802.11N USB wifi cards, ThinkPenguin.com, has indicated the availability of free software supported 802.11N USB wifi cards is disappearing. Solving this problem will require more demand than currently exists. Next time you purchase a piece of hardware ask yourself if it is free software compatible.


This page also has listings of different drivers and whether Debian considers them free or non-free. The are also links on howto obtain firmware if it is needed. Similar Debian pages for video and other drivers will be found with a web search.

I have found some Ebay wifi pci-e card with Realtek (11n 150Mbps) chips that work in OpenBSD for under $7 with shipping on a slow boat from China. These need non-free firmware which is readily available and easy to install. There are also a number of RaLink RT5392 (11n 300Mbps) cards for around $14.

Just search Ralink and Realtek 8188CE
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