Installing Madwifi without an internet connection

Kernels & Hardware, configuring network, installing services

Installing Madwifi without an internet connection

Postby wifihelp » 2007-08-03 16:38

Hi, I have a Toshiba Tecra 8100 laptop. It currently has Ubuntu on it, I wanted to install Debian so that can get better preformance by only putting what I need on it. I have a wireless card that is an Atheros chipset and this is the only way I can connect to the internet on it.

Can someone please tell me how to get the card working without an existing internet connection?
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Postby BioTube » 2007-08-03 17:08

You'll need the kernel module source, the dependencies of build-essential and the headers for your kernel version. Use packages.debian.org to figure out what you need and ftp.debian.org to download the packages. Stick them on a flash drive or CD and use dpkg to install them. The Etch versions are the ones with the lowest version numbers.

EDIT: You may also want the module-assistant package.
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Postby Guest » 2007-08-03 17:26

Ok, thank you for your help! I have a few more questions about this though. First, the kernel module source would be the source for the driver right?
Next, The dependencies of build-essential all have dependencies themselves so is there a way to check which ones come with the distro's cd?
Lastly, I'm really not an expert in linux but aren't completely new to it either, but I don't know how to check which kernel version iI have. I am currently downloading Debian Etch so that is the version of debian I'll be using but how would I figure out the kernel version number?

Once again, thanks for your help.
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Postby alleluia20 » 2007-08-03 17:39

There is a former post:

viewtopic.php?t=13852

The first reply is enough, the discussion following is useless
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Postby mzilikazi » 2007-08-03 17:50

If the wireless card is working in Ubuntu then you could do a bootstrap of Debian from Ubuntu. Use cdebootstrap something like so:

Code: Select all
cdebootstrap --arch=i386 --flavor=minimal etch /some/directory http://a_debian_mirror_here


Alternatively you could get the madwifi source package from Debian and build the driver in your new installation w/ module-assistant.
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Postby alleluia20 » 2007-08-03 17:50

By the way, this attitude of not including the propietary drivers in the installations CDs sucks :evil:

Imagine that this guy has nothing but a wifi connection, not a wired one (eg, he lives in a University). How would he manage? And don't tell me that computers come with Windows installed and he can download the package in Windows, because we are always complaining about being enforced to purchase windows with new computers.

There would be absolutely no problem in including propietary drivers in the installation CDs. Many other distros do so. If it is legal to include them in the repositories in non-free, it is legal to include them in the CDs as well.

In order to satisfy Stallman's fans, two versions of the install CDs could be offered: with and without propietary drivers. (And you'll see which version is most downloaded).
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Postby Guest » 2007-08-03 21:09

After I do the cdebootstrap, what would I need to do afterward to be able to boot into that and possibly erase the existing ubuntu install?
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Postby mzilikazi » 2007-08-03 21:19

Well you'd have to chroot in and build the wifi driver. The nice part is that you can do it from a GUI and still get help from the web (or where ever) Then just add an entry to grub or install grub from the chroot.
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Postby rickh » 2007-08-03 21:30

By the way, this attitude of not including the propietary drivers in the installations CDs sucks


The drivers for the RT2500 wireless chipset are in the Main repositories, so I assume they are included on one of the CDs. (Not CD1, I just checked.) The reason they are included is simple. They are free (libre).

Debian's rules are simple enough. If you want your application included, make it free. Drivers for some chipsets are included in the kernel. I think Orinoco, for example. Madwifi, the Intel drivers, etc. have chosen not to do so.

This is not rocket science. Before selecting a distro, check for compatibility with your hardware. If installing it yourself is too difficult, choose another Distro.

Debian's Social Contract includes the promise that no non-free software will be included. Live with it.
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Postby Guest » 2007-08-03 22:14

Ok, thank you mzilikazi. One last question before I'm off to set it all up. How would I delete everything from the ubuntu install after Debian was setup and included in grub?
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Postby mzilikazi » 2007-08-03 22:59

Anonymous wrote:Ok, thank you mzilikazi. One last question before I'm off to set it all up. How would I delete everything from the ubuntu install after Debian was setup and included in grub?

Well that's quite simple but don't be in a hurry to delete anything. Make sure everything is as you'd like then just reformat the partition(s) that Ubuntu is installed on.

Sorry I'm out of time or I'd try to give you more details on how to do cdebootstrap. Just don't be in a hurry and read some documentation on the subject and be willing to try a few times. You won't break anything.

So if your free partition was /dev/sda7 you could do it like this:

Code: Select all
cdebootstrap --arch=i386 --flavor=minimal etch /media/sda7 http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian

Then chroot in
Code: Select all
su
chroot /media/sda7
m-a update
m-a a-i madwifi

To exit the chroot:
Code: Select all
CTRL+D

Then just add an entry in your existing /boot/grub/menu.lst that points to /dev/sda7 and title it Etch or something.

Post complete errors from the shell for assistance.
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Postby dtwwtd » 2007-08-04 00:51

Ok, so I decided to register since i'll be using Debian regularly now and hopefully as I learn more I'll be able to help other people someday.

So anyway, my harddrive is 6 gigs and I only made 2 partitions when partitioning for Ubuntu. So I don't have a free partition to do the cdebootstrap to. I didn't have many files on this computer and what I did have were backed up so I'm not afraid of loosing anything. My question now is am I able to boot into the Ubuntu live CD so that my wireless card works and then do the cdebootstrap process from in the live cd?
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Postby BioTube » 2007-08-04 01:35

Yes. Since LiveCDs typically provide a RAMdisk for you to work with, you should be able to download the package and install it(you can find it here). Just remember to mount the partition first.
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Postby jambamkin » 2007-08-04 20:18

Similar problem but i have no CD either.I used one to install but debian won't recognise it (it's on a port replicator) I have a toshiba portege 3400ct pIII, and an wireless card that has worked with madwifi drivers previously on other distros. I have another computer (mac) with net connection but the toshiba has no other means. I have tried getting the madwifi debs and installed many dependences but now i'm stuck with the module assistant bits. I have three debs all seeing each other as dependencies. I tried setting a folder on the system as a source on sources.list.

but also when i open the networks window no connections are shown. and the gnome networking manager window won't stay open it just closes. in the install i choose to "setup networking later".

any clues?
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Postby mzilikazi » 2007-08-04 20:59

jambamkin wrote:Similar problem but i have no CD either.I used one to install but debian won't recognise it (it's on a port replicator) I have a toshiba portege 3400ct pIII, and an wireless card that has worked with madwifi drivers previously on other distros. I have another computer (mac) with net connection but the toshiba has no other means. I have tried getting the madwifi debs and installed many dependences but now i'm stuck with the module assistant bits. I have three debs all seeing each other as dependencies. I tried setting a folder on the system as a source on sources.list.

but also when i open the networks window no connections are shown. and the gnome networking manager window won't stay open it just closes. in the install i choose to "setup networking later".

any clues?

dpkg is your friend.
As root:
Code: Select all
dpkg -i some_file.deb

Or if you have a folder with multiple debs you could do this:
Code: Select all
cd /some/dir
dpkg -i *.deb
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