Getting Dell WiFi to Work on Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

KeyWords: linux, ubuntu, wi-fi, wireless, network, karmic, koala, disabled, broadcom, firmware, b43, lshw, lspci

Getting Dell WiFi to Work on Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala
by frost

This morning I found myself ripping my hair out attempting to get my wireless card working on my new dual boot Ubuntu 9.10 / Windows 7 setup. The wireless worked great on Windows 7, but alas, the dreaded Ubuntu Karmic Koala was putting up a fight! Well here is how I was able to get my wireless card to work on Ubuntuo 9.10 Karmic Koala.

The First Steps
After many hours of googling (I was plugged into a hardline) I had learned nothing about the problem other then feeble attempts at trying to use ndiswrapper drivers to no avail. This was very disheartening, as it seems installing and using ndiswrapper worked for many people. Well unfortunately it did not work for me. Now I am just sitting here twiddling my thumbs and decide to lookup some simple commands I could use to probe and see why my wireless card was not working. It boiled down to 1 command that really caught my attention, "lshw"!

lshw Command on Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala
It seems as though the lshw command lists available hardware on the system. In a desperate attempt I decided to give it a try. Well what came up really caught my attention, under *-network there was a "disabled" next to it. Which caught my attention and got me thinking, why is my wireless card disabled? Well in this line of thinking I stumbled upon another helpful command "lspci | grep Network" which pulled out the listing for the card. To my surprise it told me it was missing something to do with b43.

Fixing the missing b43
Well it turns out the b43 firmware was missing for the broadcom wireless card. Well great, thinking of how to fix it I decided to see if there was anything in the Synaptic Package Manager. I do a quick search for b43 and to my surprise on package comes up, b43-fwcutter, which basically extracts the broadcom firmware. Of course I install this package at once! After I installed it, the card did not work. Since this had to do with firmware etc, I decided to try a reboot. Once the computer came back up WOOHOO! My Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala now has Wi-Fi capabilities and connected flawlessly to my networks.

Ending Notes
Although I was very frustrated at time, I am extremely happy that the solution was a simple one. I decided to write this entry to help others out there with a Broadcom card having the same issue on Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. What took me a few hours to figure out, should have been more like 10 minutes to get straightened out.

This was a great learning experience for me and I am so happy that I finally got the Wireless card to work! I hope this works and helps you out as well.

Other Notes
I am not an expert at Linux / Ubuntu by any means. I do not claim to be, as such if the above does not work, I am not sure how to fix it for you. Your question is better directed towards the Ubuntu Help Forums. If this does work, great! Glad I could help. Just an FYI that you posting your problems here means that you are posting them in vain if you are expecting me to fix them for you. Thank you!

Posted by frost on Jan 16th, 2010 16:24 - Subscribe Bookmark and Share

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Posted by anonymous on March 17th, 2010

thank you! this fixed the problem on my inspiron 1420. as someone who is not very good with linux, i appreciate a simple solution happy.gif

Posted by anonymous on March 25th, 2010

am trying it now on my inspiron E1405...thanks for the post.

Posted by anonymous on March 25th, 2010

works perfectly on my E1405, thank you!

Posted by anonymous on March 27th, 2010

Thank you! This saved me a lot of time!

Posted by anonymous on April 04th, 2010

Thank you man !! Your article was enough to solve the problem easily. My Dell Vostro 1000 Wifi is awake now !! Thank you so much.

Posted by anonymous on April 09th, 2010

You rock! I had been struggling since sometime for this. thx a lot

on my dell vostro 1520 (64bit karmic), I required one more step after installing using
sudo apt-get install b43-fwcutter
[this is required as my system had bcm4312]
system->hardware drivers -> broadcom sta wireless driver -> activate


Posted by fiona on May 09th, 2010

Hiiiiiiiiii!! It's Fiona. It said on my blog we were friends!! I must be a HORRIBLE friend to stay gone so much of the time. You seem to be a tech expert. I should hang around more often! *plops down with a cuppa and a book* happy.gif

Posted by anonymous on September 01st, 2010

Thank you, after years of periodically trying to get wireless working with linux you have shown me the "light"




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