foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world


WiFi under Linux - it just works!

, posted: 11-Sep-2007 12:11

There is (yet another) discussion raging over on Slashdot about the state of WiFi on Linux.

I have to say, WiFi, even with WPA works on my Ubuntu laptop (Dell Latitude D820) without a hitch. Sure, before I bought the laptop I looked around and found that people didn't seem to have any issues with the Intel WiFi chipsets. So, when during the ordering process the Dell web-site offered the Intel chipset or something from Broadcom, I chose the Intel one. It definitely paid off: It worked out of the box, without a single line of config file hacking. Just as it should be.

Sure, you will say, if you pick and choose only the most common hardware then it is no surprise that it works even under Linux.

Well, firstly, hardware support under Linux is constantly getting better and more reliable anyway. For example, I didn't choose the Intel graphics card, but the Nvidia option instead. With Ubuntu's restricted-devices manager, I had the 3D driver for that Nvidia card installed and working literally in seconds, and also without having to use the command line.

Secondly, when I boot into Windows (which is close to never these days) WiFi actually does not work! How is that for a turn of events? There is probably some solution with some fiddling, but I didn't bother trouble shooting it. I really don't need Windows for anything anymore.

So, with the very same and very common WiFi hardware, Linux works out of the box, and Windows does not.

This is also not the only time I noticed some hardware support to work better under Linux than under Windows. USB devices are also more readily recognized, mounted, unmounted and remounted than under Windows. I don't know how this is for other Linux distributions, but this has been the case for me since Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger). That's how long I have been running Ubuntu on different laptops.

I'm now at 7.04 and are already looking forward to 7.10...


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Comment by Quentin, on 11-Sep-2007 16:56

I would have to agree, but from a desktop perspective. I'm fussy about my hardware, I run the latest motherboards and chipsets, but make sure they are all nvidia/AMD so everything works just fine. With wireless I ended up picking a Belkin Card with a ralink chipset. Unlike you however, I did not mind delving into the command line and compiling the ralink driver. Everything is just aOK, and I havent had one reboot in just over a year. My wireless card has never given me grief.


Comment by David Legg, on 11-Sep-2007 20:24

(K)Ubuntu is the Linux distribution that seems to include the most out-of-the-box support for wifi devices. Indeed, wifi is one of the least well supported areas of Linux. What we need is much better driver support from hardware vendors. Since the 2.6.23 kernel, all the hooks exist for sound, maintainable, standardised drivers. Are you listening guys? If you don't provide drivers for your hardware, all the Linux people will buy the well-supported hardware instead. Dell and Lenovo will clean up (as they have been doing for years.)


Comment by Noureddine Elzaatari, on 12-Sep-2007 00:01

thank you for the article, linux gets better everyday, :)


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New Zealand


  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
  • Where I have been: Here and there, all over the place.




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