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Broadcom wireless

Discussion in 'General Linux Discussion' started by Daerandin, Dec 21, 2014.

  1. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    Just to give everyone a fair warning, this really is nothing more than a rant. Now that the warning is out of the way, let the ranting commence.

    My laptop use a Broadcom device for wireless, specifically BCM 4352 [14e4:43b1] which there is no support for in open source drivers. It was almost a year before the proprietary broadcom-sta driver worked with this wifi card.

    And now that kernel 3.18.1 is out, it has been discovered that the proprietary driver cause a kernel panic. Since there is still no open source support for my wifi card, I am left with a few options:

    1) I can simply keep the 3.17.6 kernel and prevent updates to the kernel or any related packages the depend on 3.18 kernel and above. This might work for a while, but if months go by then I might be looking at issues because of the rolling nature of Arch.

    2) Switch to the lts kernel in the Arch repos. But that is the 3.14 kernel and my laptop definitely like newer kernels better so I'd rather not do that.

    3) Use a usb wifi dongle, which I have lying around

    4) Back to ethernet

    For convenience, I might pick option 3 when the 3.18 kernel comes out of the Arch testing repo and into the core repo. But I really hope broadcom can fix their driver, or that the open source driver for broadcom cards can start supporting this particular card soon.
  2. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Ethernet
    Ethernet
    Ethernet

    Yay!

    That really sucks! Yet another reason for Win/Mac users to not switch to Linux.
    Do you think Ubuntu and Mint inherit the same problem with that chip?

    I know Ethernet isn't the best solution for a portable computer, but we all know its the fastest and most secure connection.
    Secure as in packets, not hacking ;)

    Do you think a USB will have compatibility problems in Arch?

    I know in the past wireless was a huge problem with Linux, but in the more recent kernels it seems they have finally got it together. My Chromebook wireless works perfectly with Ubuntu 12.04 and Ubuntu 14.04

    How old is your laptop?
  3. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    Hardware compatibility is generally always better in Arch than any other distro since it always use the latest kernel available. Most other distros have a kernel that is often up to several months old, sometimes over a year old. If you have hardware that does not work with another distro, chances are it will work with Arch.

    Since my wireless card do not have any open source support support at all, it does not work no matter what distro you use.

    But the people at Broadcom have made the proprietary STA driver which make my card work with Linux. The proprietary broadcom drivers are kind of like AMD drivers on Linux, in other words not very good. The community have had to come up with patches to let the STA driver build properly whenever a new kernel came out, but with the new 3.18 kernel it does not seem like anyone has been able to figure out how to fix this. The people at Broadcom does not seem to care about ensuring their driver work on newer kernels.

    This laptop was just out on the market when I bought it, which was roughly 1 year and 9 months ago. Back then, I could not even boot this laptop with any Linux live iso without the kernel parameter "nomodeset". As soon as I installed proprietary nvidia drivers, things were working much better. But it is really only recently with the 3.17 kernel that things have started to work properly out of the box (I'm looking at you fn keys). Previously I used a custom python script I wrote in order to control keyboard backlight and screen backlight with my keyboard.

    I am hoping that the open source driver developers will figure out how my particular wireless card work soon so I can have it working with open source drivers, but until such a time I'm at the mercy of Broadcom proprietary drivers.
  4. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Then its practically a new computer! At least compared to my laptop
    Were you using Arch from the beginning?

    I was barely just starting to use Linux on an every day basis back then. Almost two years ago, but I decided that I would stick with a desktop for my main computer.
    Now I have Ubuntu on my family laptop and Chromebook.
    So obviously I don't have a whole lot of advice cause you have been messing with drivers and open-source much longer than me.

    I personally would stick with Ethernet, but most people have a need for portability. Even if its just around the house.
    I don't even have a wireless router or access point.
    My computers stay on one side of the house and are only on if they are being used.
    No reason to have lots of computers on all day over wireless. Thats just asking for someone to hack me.

    What was your final decision?
  5. allenskd

    allenskd Active Member

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    That really sucks, honestly I've got a bit of a phobia with wireless when it comes to linux mostly because it's still a hit or miss even on 2014. I can really imagine the frustration, like I said before once I get my laptop I'll nuke it with linux and I'm just hoping the wireless card it has is supported to some extent, mostly because connecting a lan cable doesn't make sense in the first place (ahem, laptop?).
  6. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    I agree, but my ancient 4-year old laptop doesn't even have a working battery. So its just a nice compact computer for the family.
    Wire it in and enjoy.
    Ethernet is always more consistent anyways.

    As for my Chromebook, I use it at work, church and when I'm out. so wireless is necessary.
  7. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    This here provide links to lists of wireless cards so you can check if a specific model works or not

    https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Wireless#Installing_driver.2Ffirmware

    I do have a usb wifi dongle that I might just use once the 3.18 kernel comes out of the Arch testing repos, it seems to be the most convenient solution for now.

    I have a fairly expensive wireless router now, using the 5 Ghz band so it is very fast and I prefer using wireless.

    I was using Arch from the beginning on this laptop, until I broke my first Arch install and used Ubuntu for month before heading back to Arch. I had actually just barely tried out a few Linux distros prior to that, and it was not anything close to regular use. So I was a complete newbie and still consider myself to be one considering the short amount of time I've been using Linux full time. It's almost 2 years now of only Linux, apart from the laptop for my studies, which I don't use for anything else. I could never go back.
  8. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    Let us know if the USB Wifi does the job for ya

    Unfortunately I have to go back to Windows when I'm at work.
    I've thought about using Linux as work, but there are a few proprietary IT programs I need to use.
    Outlook too :(
  9. Gizmo

    Gizmo Chief Site Administrator Staff Member

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    I thought that most of the broadcom proprietary stuff just required you to rip the card firmware out and then use something like ndiswrapper? I remember having to do that with one of the broadcom cards I had a while back, but I haven't had need of that for a while.

    Sux that you're in that boat though.
  10. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    I had forgotten about ndiswrapper! I used it very briefly before the Broadcom Linux driver supported my card, but my wireless was horribly unstable when using ndiswrapper with my particular card so I quickly gave up on that.
  11. Daerandin

    Daerandin Well-Known Member

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    I am on the 3.18 kernel now. I decided to use the usb adapter I have. I don't seem to get quite the same speeds, but it is not much of a problem.

    Thankfully, according to comments I've seen several places, better minds than mine are trying to figure out exactly what the problem is with the broadcom wl driver on the 3.18 kernel.
  12. booman

    booman Grand High Exalted Mystic Emperor of Linux Gaming Staff Member

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    I'm glad its working at least

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