Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fixing Wireless in OpenSuSE 11.3 and Dell Studio Laptops

The new and shiny OpenSuSE 11.3 was released on 15th July, 2010 and I was eagerly waiting because it promised to give a preview of the GNOME 3.0 and LXDE desktops on the DVD. As with my forgetful self, I forgot about the release, until now when I had to create an openSuse based appliance (but this one is long story for another day)… Nevertheless, I downloaded the DVD image yesterday and was ready to install it.

After the installation like I always do with the Dell Laptops (which have the Broadcom wifi chipset), go and download the Broadcom proprietary ‘wl’ drivers from packman repo. But this time, the 1-click install button didn’t work and gave some error message. Nevermind, I got the rpm and installed it. Rebooted the machine, but couldn’t find the wireless on… Odd I wondered and went to YAST and checked what was the issue… I discovered that starting from OpenSuSE 11.3, the ssb module is bundled with the kernel to deal with the Broadcom chipsets, but then Broadcom changed the hardware address and hence the driver doesn’t work correctly. Also because there are two options (wl and ssb), I couldn’t get the wireless automatically working after installing the ‘wl’ like it otherwise does.

Thus, I realized that ssb and its dependencies need to be blacklisted and only then wl will be the only one available in the kernel and things will work well… Thus, the following steps need to be followed:

1.) create a file 50-Broadcom-wl-blacklist.conf, if it does not exist with the following content:

blacklist bcm43xx
blacklist ssb
blacklist b43
blacklist ndiswrapper

2.) install the Broadcom-wl, if you haven’t already installed. Download it from the above linked packman repo. If you had already installed it, then do the following:

rmmod bcm43xx
rmmod b43
rmmod ssb
insmod wl

3.) reboot

This should only load wl into the kernel and should show the wireless in the network manager or ifup, whichever you may want to use.


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