Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

February 24, 2010

Getting Wireless on my HP Pavilion DV5000 to work on Linux

Filed under: Computer Software,Knowledgebase,Linux/Unix Related — Suramya @ 10:46 PM

I have heard that connecting to wireless networks can give a lot of trouble in Linux. I have even experienced the same when I tried out Debian and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 on my HP Pavilion DV5000 laptop. In Debian I managed to get the card working but on RHEL I couldn’t get it to work.

Actually I could have gotten it to work but lacked the time to spend trying out various solutions. Plus the final solution wasn’t very elegant or portable. Basically what I ended up doing was hardcoding the config file to connect to a particular wireless network. Which obviously wasn’t a very portable solution.

When I decided to try out Backtrack 4 which is a Linux-based penetration testing distribution that is based off Ubuntu I was worried that my wireless card (Broadcom BCM4318) would again cause issues. If you have been using Linux then you probably have heard of this-chip set as earlier versions of Linux had a lot of problems getting this card to work and so I was expecting a lot of work before I got the card to work.

While the OS was installing I did a little search on google and that reminded me of a post on Tech Republic that talked about 10 tools to connect to wireless networks in Linux so I decided to try out each of them to see which one worked for me.

Fortunately for me the first program I tried (wicd) solved my problem. All I had to do to get the network working was: log in as root and then run the following command:

/etc/init.d/wicd start

Once I ran the command all my network cards were automatically detected and I could configure them. However since its a pain to configure the cards manually, I ran the following command to start the GUI based client for wicd:

wicd-client

When you run wicd-client a new icon shows up in the system tray (next to the clock) and if you double click on the icon the Wicd manager starts and allows you to configure any wireless/wired network that the system detects.

Over all, wicd is quite easy and a lot more intuitive than the default KDE Network manager, plus another advantage is that wicd supports WPA which the default KDE Network manager doesn’t.

Now that I have gotten the card working on Ubuntu I am going to re-install RHEL on the laptop and see if wicd can get the card working over there also. But that’s work for another day.

– Suramya

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