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 Post subject: Gateway PA6A 17" laptop
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:53 pm 
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Posts: 28
I have Peppermint OS One installed on the Gateway PA6A laptop, and I have Peppermint Ice installed from Virtualbox OSE on the same box.

Output:

inxi -F
System: Host siduxbox Kernel 2.6.34-0.slh.11-sidux-686 i686 (32 bit) Distro sidux 2009-02 Αιθήρ - kde-full - (200907141427)
CPU: Dual core Intel T2080 (SMP) cache 1024 KB flags (nx sse sse2 sse3) bmips 6916.26
Clock Speeds: (1) 800.00 MHz (2) 800.00 MHz
Graphics: Card Intel Mobile 945GM/GMS 943/940GML Express Integrated Graphics Controller X.Org 1.7.7 Res: 1440x900@60.0hz
GLX Renderer Mesa DRI Intel 945GM GEM 20091221 2009Q4 x86/MMX/SSE2 GLX Version 1.4 Mesa 7.7.1 Direct Rendering Yes
Audio: Card Intel N10/ICH 7 Family High Definition Audio Controller driver HDA Intel BusID: 00:1b.0
Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Version 1.0.22.1
Network: Card-1 Intel PRO/100 VE Network Connection driver e100 v: 3.5.24-k2-NAPI at port 4000 BusID: 04:08.0
Card-2 Broadcom BCM4311 802.11b/g WLAN driver b43-pci-bridge BusID: 03:00.0
Disks: HDD Total Size: 160.0GB (42.1% used) 1: /dev/sda WDC_WD1600BEVS 160.0GB
Partition: ID:/ size: 19G used: 14G (77%) fs: ext3
Info: Processes 141 Uptime 5:54 Memory 1037.8/2016.8MB Runlevel 5 Client Shell inxi 1.4.10


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 Post subject: Gateway PA6A Wireless Firmware
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:56 pm 
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Posts: 28
I recently ran into some issues getting my wireless firmware up and working, and it was particularly perplexing, one, because I actually thought I had it working at one time, two, because every single other system that I can install on this Gateway 2000 Model PA6A can easily and effortlessly install the b43 firmware for my Broadcom 4311 network card, so I figured the problem had to be that some module was not getting properly probed and initialized, but in the documentation - at least what I have been able to locate, I could not find any discussions on this topic, so I finally went hunting elsewhere, and today I found the answers I was looking for in the Debian Wiki, and I believe that their treatment of the topic is thorough and complete. I would like to see this information included or added to the existing HOWTO or tutorial documentation, which seems to be maintained by certain people (I could not find a place to enter it myself), so I thought at least for now I would document it here (I will be able to find it). However, I think it would be helpful if the information was extracted, edited, and applied to the information about getting Broadcom Wireless firmware working. This applies when the standard "Add Additional Drivers" feature just doesn't get the job done right:

b43-fwcutter
firmware-b43-installer

are the two packages that can be installed on Debian (and many other) systems, and they will automatically download
and install the correct firmware. On Debian-based systems, installing firmware-b43-installer will also install the
b43-fwcutter package, and this will download the appropriate Broadcom firmware for most, if not all, wireless firmware
used by Broadcom wireless hardware.

On Debian-based systems (which of course include Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu), and by extension, Peppermint Two, which is derived directly from Lubuntu), the following Debian Wiki page is of great help: http://wiki.debian.org/bcm43xx

On that page, it is pointed out that the firmware-b43-installer package will normally do everything required, including probing for the correct firmware module, once installed. In my case, apparently on Peppermint Two, something was already "there", either installed or configured in a way that created a conflict with the expected behavior. The Wiki page listed above also covers work around behavior to account for issues with module probing.

In case of difficulties, these steps, described on the Wiki page, should resolve the conflict:

The necessary kernel module should be automatically loaded. If necessary, it can be manually loaded via either:

modprobe b43

or

modprobe b43legacy

Verify your device has an available interface:

iwconfig

Raise the interface to activate the radio, for example:

ifconfig wlan0 up

If that still does not immediately resolve the issue, then

modprobe -r b43
echo options b43 pio=1 qos=0 >> /etc/modprobe.d/local.conf
modprobe b43

should take care of it.

Consult the Wiki page for a step by step installation, with follow-up troubleshooting steps. Normally, just installing firmware-b43-installer will perform all steps needed. When that fails, the troubleshooting will take care of the rest. This works great, and I have all of my systems correctly, automatically, and cleanly bringing up the wireless interface now.

A final point: I have found the wicd network management package to be more robust than the network-manager package that is usually distributed, especially in Ubuntu-based distributions. One nice feature of the wicd package is that you can configure your system to automatically connect to a wired Ethernet connection when one is present, and either automatically or manually connect to a wireless network otherwise. Furthermore, you can optionally configure wicd to reconnect in the event of a network disruption or disconnection (and disable that feature if your network tends to "bounce" up and down. The flexibility of these features has resulted in extremely reliable network management on every system in which wicd controls network management.


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 Post subject: Re: Gateway PA6A 17" laptop
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:50 pm 
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Much needed and well done, Brian. Broadcom 43xx can, indeed, be problematic. Thanks.

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 Post subject: Re: Gateway PA6A 17" laptop
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:13 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:45 pm
Posts: 28
oldrong wrote:
Rich_Roast, Kendall, Eric2, enginerd, or one of the other mods can move this to the "how to/tutorials" section. You may have to PM one of them to get their attention on it though.


I did PM the guy who wrote the original HOWTO concerning configuring Broadcom wireless interfaces. His information looks a bit dated. There should be absolutely no reason to have to download source code and have to build it for wireless firmware. That goes a bit against the tone and spirit of this distribution, and moreover, since that stuff was created, it appears that it was either unavailable when I looked at it or inaccessible, but I was unable to even reach the sites mentioned in the HOWTO. But the main thing is that the HOWTO completely misses the big thing: when even the automatic firmware installer can't probe the modules, correctly, there are modprobe steps to probe, remove the probed module, and reinitialize it - if needed - that overcome issues, and we don't touch those areas at all (that I have been able to find) in our existing documentation, yet that was the "magic step" that finally got me past the issues I was facing.

90% of the time, it just works, but for those remaining cases, this will be huge for struggling Broadcom users.


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 Post subject: Re: Gateway PA6A 17" laptop
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:48 am 
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Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 8:56 am
Posts: 2132
I'll take a look at the relevant tutorials when I get back from work today.

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 Post subject: Re: Gateway PA6A 17" laptop
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:45 pm
Posts: 28
Rich_Roast wrote:
I'll take a look at the relevant tutorials when I get back from work today.


Thanks Rich! Lifting stuff from http://wiki.debian.org/bcm43xx and/or http://linuxwireless.org/en/users/Drive ... own_issues would be greatly helpful (although the second resource, while more complete, is harder to decipher. In this space, I think we need something understandable, but just telling people to install the Broadcom STA package from the "Add Additional Devices", while it services perhaps 90-95% of the cases, it really leaves the remaining cases in a lurch. I hope the references I provided and the notes that I took on them will be useful in improving our documentation, and I appreciate your willingness to look into this for us!


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 Post subject: Re: Gateway PA6A 17" laptop
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 9:11 am 
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I posted this here.

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 Post subject: Re: Gateway PA6A 17" laptop
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:23 am 
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Posts: 28
Rich_Roast wrote:
I posted this here.


Excellent, Rich! That is just the kind of straightforward explanation needed here. Hopefully ninety percent or more of the time, it will not be needed, but it is instrumental in dealing with that remaining five to ten percent of cases, which just don't adhere to what the current tools expect. The reason, of course, is that none of the Broadcom-supplied firmware drivers "get it perfectly"; some work well for particular firmware, and others work better with the others, and a few are just plain stubborn.

With the 4311 card I happen to have on one of my systems, the firmware-b43-installer nearly always (but not quite always) takes care of things correctly the first time. I am not sure exactly what's going on for me on Peppermint Two, but visiting these threads and taking their advice finally got me past my difficulties and led to a positive end result - getting the wireless interface to consistently respond as expected.

Sharing the two discussions, providing the background, and some extra explanation, is just what is needed for anyone who runs into similar issues. It's probably still going to be a bit beyond the timid novice, but with these explanations, I do think those willing to dig in, read what has been provided, and try out the available scenarios is going to yield a more positive result, and that should mean a few more satisfied users.

I appreciate the way you put your article - with cited references - including my comments and research - together. Thank you for taking care of this in a prompt and well-written fashion!


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 Post subject: Re: Gateway PA6A 17" laptop
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:31 pm 
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I'm glad it's helpful and that the chipset works OK, even if it takes some perseverance. It's true that to a newcomer to Linux in general that if the systems in place do not work out of the box, then the world of opening a terminal and typing in strange commands is a world away from inserting a disk and clicking through a wizard.

Incidentally, all of the software to install in that tutorial can be installed using the graphical software installation tools (the Software Installer aka MintInstall, or Synaptic); however for the sake of brevity and accuracy, and the fact that modprobe needs to be run through a terminal session anyway, I felt it better just to go with the command line method rather than elongate everything with GUI commands. As soon as things get to the GUI I feel it's probably better to try to post a video on Youtube or wherever.

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 Post subject: Re: Gateway PA6A 17" laptop
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 11:02 pm 
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Posts: 28
You are absolutely right, Rich. If the beginner cannot get the configuration working with the standard tools, it is probably "game over" for most of them. I think that at least having some good diagnostic tools available for those who have a bit more persistence will certainly help out those individuals, and having this kind of information readily available will definitely help out.

In my case, should I run into this again, I'll know right where to come should I ever run into this again. When the next release becomes available, I will definitely be checking all of this out again, and I'll be sure to refer to this discussion if the configuration doesn't "just automatically work". I also think that an idea about having an interactive video of some type is an excellent idea for situations like this.

Thanks again - for your ideas - and also for your quick answer and well-written description and dialog on this topic. I am sure that it will prove helpful to others.

Rich_Roast wrote:
I'm glad it's helpful and that the chipset works OK, even if it takes some perseverance. It's true that to a newcomer to Linux in general that if the systems in place do not work out of the box, then the world of opening a terminal and typing in strange commands is a world away from inserting a disk and clicking through a wizard.

Incidentally, all of the software to install in that tutorial can be installed using the graphical software installation tools (the Software Installer aka MintInstall, or Synaptic); however for the sake of brevity and accuracy, and the fact that modprobe needs to be run through a terminal session anyway, I felt it better just to go with the command line method rather than elongate everything with GUI commands. As soon as things get to the GUI I feel it's probably better to try to post a video on Youtube or wherever.


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