Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

April 21, 2008

Getting my wireless card working in Debian

Filed under: Computer Tips,Knowledgebase,Linux/Unix Related,Tech Related — Suramya @ 2:03 AM

As promised here are the steps that I followed to get my wireless card working on my Comaq Presario V3000 in Debian:

1. Install ndiswrapper

In my case I allready had the ndis wrapper installed. If thats not the case with your system run the following command as root to install it:

apt-get install ndiswrapper-common ndiswrapper-utils ndisgtk

2. Disable the “bcm43xx” driver on your system

Run the following command at a command prompt as root :

echo 'blacklist bcm43xx' | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist

3. Download the Windows driver for your card

My system uses the Broadcom Corporation BCM4310 card and I had to download the Windows driver for it from the Dell site. For some reason the driver I found at the Compaq site refused to work. You can download it from here.

Save this in the /tmp directory cd into the /tmp directory, and unzip the Windows driver package:

cd /tmp
unzip R123456.EXE (or whatever the name of the download is)

4. Install the Windows driver with ndiswrapper

To load the driver you need to run the following command as root:

ndiswrapper -i /tmp/DRIVER/bcmwl5.inf

The you should verify that the driver has been successfully loaded

ndiswrapper -l

The output of this command should look like the following if it is loaded correctly

Installed ndis drivers:
{name of driver} driver present, hardware present


{name of driver} : driver installed
device ({Chipset ID}) present

5. Load the ndiswrapper module

You now need to load the ndiswrapper module. Run the following steps at a command prompt as root:

depmod -a
modprobe ndiswrapper

if the above commands don’t give any errors then the drivers have been successfully installed.

6. Configure the wireless card

I have found the ‘netcardconfig’ command the easiest to use when configuring a new card. Run it as root and answer the questions it asks and it will configure the card for you.

7. Set the ndiswrapper module to automatically load at boot

ndiswrapper is not started by default when the system starts up so you must configure your system to load the ndiswrapper module at system startup. To do this, edit /etc/modules file as root to add an entry for ndiswrapper at the end of the file.

vi /etc/modules

Add ‘ndiswrapper’ (without the quotes) to the end of the file in a new line. Save and exit.

Now the module will be loaded when the system next starts up.

A special thanks to JamesGu from the UbuntuForums for figuring out the solution and posting it there.

Hope you find this useful. I certainly did. 😉

Will post about my sound card next.

– Suramya


  1. I dont understand : why do we need Windows to install a linux driver ?
    There are no way to do it with linux only ?
    I prefer to use open source code and gpl even more !
    Thanks for your help.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 22, 2008 @ 12:56 PM

  2. You don’t need Windows to install a linux driver. You need a windows driver to install some wireless cards in Linux.

    Unfortunately a lot of companies haven’t released the specifications of their hardware so that a completely open driver can be created. So for those chip sets we have to use the windows driver on Linux. This is done by wrapping the driver with ndiswrapper.

    I too would like to use GPL products but sometimes getting things to work has a higher priority…

    – Suramya

    Comment by Suramya — April 22, 2008 @ 1:17 PM

  3. I had the same issue with ubuntu gutsy and also in hardy. The driver in ubuntu just did not work. But when I compiled the kernel 2.6.25, the bcm43xx was recognized and now I’m able to connect through wireless device.

    Comment by Bruno — May 7, 2008 @ 3:59 PM

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