Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ubuntu, netbooks and wireless

I recently got a cheap refurbished Dell netbook, mainly so I can work on documents on the move. I never bothered trying to set up wireless, I plugged in into my lan whenever I needed to download anything, which was not very often. Then Brenda's niece, Emily, said she had a netbook that wouldn't work with wireless. It looked to be a very similar make and model to mine. I offered to help and discovered that it was running Windoze 7. Arrggh. After struggling with that for a few hours I offered to put ubuntu on it for her. I just assumed the wireless would be a breeze. When I got it home I thought "I had better get wireless working on mine first before I trash her Windoze installation" so I had a go. Then I found that getting wireless to work on ubuntu on netbooks can be a right pain. I eventually got mine working. Here's how I did it:
  • I downloaded a netbook ISO image for Maverick Meerkat
  • I created a bootable USB drive containing the ISO image. I used unetbootin-linux-549, which I built from a source code download.
  • I booted the network using the USB stick and did the install.
  • I used the lspci command to reveal that the wireless hardware is a RealTek 8176.
  • I googled and found someone with the same problem asking for help on a forum. The web page no longer worked but luckily it was still available in the google cache. Some kind person answered with a very detailed step by step set of instructions. I also tried them and they worked for me too!

The instructions are as follows:

  • sudo su
  • add-apt-repository ppa:lexical/hwe-wireless
  • apt-get update
  • apt-get install rtl8192ce-dkms,

    This went through a long rigmarole and eventually said

    Building initial module for 2.6.35-24-generic
    Running module version sanity check.
     - Original module
       - No original module exists within this kernel
     - Installation
       - Installing to /lib/modules/2.6.35-24-generic/updates/dkms/
    DKMS: install Completed.
    At this point I rebooted and after the reboot it just worked. Wow.
I am all set to do the same on Emily's machine now but I will leave that to another day.

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