This tutorial is designed to teach all computer users, of which are new to their Linux distribution. Read below to find out what the most commonly compatible wireless devices are and how you are to install them on your Linux-based computer with the aid of open-source driver projects.

The initial step you must take, just as you must in any other hardware installation on any type of computer system, is of course to physically connect the wireless device to your computer system, either via a PCI slot,assuming you are using a desktop or tower type computer system or a free add-on slot, assuming you are using a laptop type computer system. Also after connecting the hardware be sure to check that the system voltage has not dropped overall using your voltmeter, as strenuous load on the power supply may not be all that bad, overloading the power supply will cause hassle when trying to run your computer, most commonly random reboots and hardware failure will result under these circumstances.

 

The next step you must take is to determine the make and model of your wireless device, which can be done by reading the box that contained your wireless device at the time of purchase or you may consult a computer store or a computer savvy friend to determine the make and model of your wireless device. As it is not installed yet, thus checking for the make and model in the device list is futile.

 

Please note that this tutorial is referring to the “Chipset” in use on the wireless device, so not only the make and model of the card are being referred to here, but also more specifically the “Chipset”on board that device.

 

Below is a table of the commonly compatible wireless devices and where you are to find online hardware lists and driver installation packages for them. You may also note that below I have only listed the makes of the commonly compatible wireless devices, as listing all compatible models would take vast amounts of time, although don’t fret as the driver installation packages available online are usually compatible across most models of the same make:

 

Make Hardware List (Compatibility List) Driver Package
Atheros http://madwifi.org/wiki/Compatibility http://madwifi.org/wiki/UserDocs/GettingMadwifi
Ralink http://rt2x00.serialmonkey.com/wiki/index.php/

http://rt2x00.serialmonkey.com/wiki/index.php/

Zydas (USB) http://zydas.rapla.net http://zd1211.ath.cx
Intel I have not found a hardware list for this specific make yet. http://ipw2200.sourceforge.net/downloads.php
http://sourceforge.net/projects/ipw2200-ap (For use in AP mode)
Conexant

http://securitystartshere.org/page-training-oswa-wnicsprism54.htm

http://prism54.org/newdrivers.html (SoftMAC)
http://prism54.org/fullmac.html (FullMAC)

 

Once you have determined the make, model and chipset aboard your wireless device, you must then visit the “Hardware List (Compatibility List) link beside the make of your wireless device, once you have navigated to the webpage, you must then search the page for your specific model, which can be done by using the “Filter”/”Find” tool, which is activated by using the key combination highlighted below:

Ctrl + F            Press and hold “Ctrl” and then tap “F” now release both keys.

 

Once you have used the above key combination correctly you will be presented with a narrow, empty text box, of which you must type the model of your card into (or at least the first few characters) and then hit the “Enter”/”Return” key to search the page for the entered text.

 

If the box suddenly highlights itself “Red” then your model is most likely not on the page, if this happened check that you entered the model name correctly and try again, if the box remains “Red” then try removing one character from the end of the text at a time until the box is no longer “Red”. If your box remains the default colour then you will notice that the text you entered into the box will now be highlighted (more than likely in a pale yellow) and if the highlighted text on the webpage matches the model of your wireless device then you can be sure that your wireless device should be compatible with Linux, thus allowing your wireless device to function natively under the Linux platform.

 

Now that you have determined that your wireless device is compatible with Linux, you must then return to the top of this page and click the link beside the make of your wireless device in the “Driver Package” column. Once you have clicked the link in the column that is most appropriate to you, you must then select the driver package that is most suited to your system. In most cases, you will select the driver marked with your Linux Kernel version number of the type of processor and operating system you are running (i.e. 32-bit, 64-bit, x86, etc).

 

Once you have downloaded the driver package (which will be a file format specific to your distribution i.e. Debian = .deb or .tar or .tar.gz, etc) most appropriate to your system and wireless device, you must then install it. Depending on your distribution and wireless device this procedure will vary and I strongly recommend that you consult a computer savvy friend, a computer expert or good old http://www.google.com for any information that you may need.

 

Once you have installed the driver package, you must then reboot your system and if you have an external wireless device switch (common on factory installed wireless devices) then switch it on. Now if you have configured it correctly by using my instructions above, then you may sit back and watch the glory reveal itself in the form of blinking data transfer lights and the swift readiness to occupy our air with its wealth of bits and bytes and make all of the fidelity of the wireless variety come to life invisibly. Fascinating isn’t it? If you do not experience such pleasure and your wireless device is in fact inactive or only partially active then I would personally recommend that you continue to search this website of mine for the answer that suits you, otherwise you may consult a computer expert.

Congratulations! You have just installed your wireless device on your Linux-based computer system. Enjoy your newfound Linux hardware configuration knowledge.

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