Wireless for the Linux Laptop (FC5) (Part 4)

Longtime readers of this blog will recall how I suffered under the agony of getting wifi to work on FC4 and inhabited the ndiswrapper limbo(which I vow never to go through again). So I bought a laptop with a well known linux Wifi driver and installed the latest-and-greatest version of Fedora Core 5 distribution.

Now, alas I find getting Wifi to work is still painful. Here’s what I’ve found:

  • in previous versions of FC, it defaults to an ethernet hardware setting (and still does so in FC 5).
  • in this version (which I still haven’t gotten to work) they have an earlier version of the drivers, but they don’t appear in the configuration wizards (although they do appear in the command lines–such as /sbin/lspci ).
  • there’s a nice network status manager available in Gnome, but it isn’t turned on by default and you need to do so. (Here’s how to get started on that).
  • Bill Moss wrote up a great little guide about updating the firmware/drivers, although it’s still very complex. (sorry, here’s the correct link). Here’s the intel GNU documentation. Apparently, you need to update the kernel and firmware and drivers and probably some configuration files as well (and update some rpms while you’re at it). Egad! (update: the kernel recompile was NOT necessary).
  • Most of the instructions for configuring wifi make the assumption that you have easy access to ethernet, which is not always the case. For once, I’d like a CD to have all the tools necessary to work.
  • even if you get the Intel drivers to work, you still need to download wpa_supplicant in order to have a relatively recent encryption method for wifi.

Perhaps you may think that this 2915ABG driver I’m talking about is an edge case. Actually this is default wifi hardware device for almost every single Intel-based laptop out there these days. I really have to wonder why the FC5 testers didn’t make sure it would work before they shoved this distribution out the door.

This post will detail my progress for getting the 2915ABG driver to work.

Update: I am happy to report that my problem was solved with little difficulty. (The main difficulty was getting familiar with yum commands and yumex, which was time-consuming, but not difficult. Then I downloaded the ipw2200-firmware rpm. After a reboot, the network configuration wizard (in gnome, System –> Administration –> Network) now showed my intel miniPCI card in the list of devices, and everything after that was a piece of cake.