How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

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How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby viking777 on Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:53 am

I had the feeling that there were an inordinate number of posts just recently about the inability to create wireless connections in Linux Mint. In order to test that theory I did a search for the word 'wireless' on the forum restricted to the last 1 month. This returned around 190 threads (threads not posts) but some of them were not relevant so I subtracted a few non pertinent words that occurred in thread titles. I only got so far with this because the search function complained I was using too many words in the end, but up to this point I still have 156 threads. Here is the search if you want to see it.

http://forums.linuxmint.com/search.php?st=30&sk=t&sd=d&sr=topics&keywords=wireless+-Nvidia+-Graphics+-grub+-keyboard+-bluetooth+-Debian

I know there are still some non relevant threads in that list, but I don't intend to read 156 threads to get a definitive answer, as far as I am concerned my suspicions are proven.

So around 150 people in the last month are having difficulty with wireless connections. Now you could read into that the fact that we have a lot of newbies trying Mint out for the first time who haven't quite got to grips with things yet, and obviously that would be a good thing. Or you could read into it that there is a problem with wireless connections in general within Linux. I personally think it is the latter case. I am not a newbie, and yet I can't get my wife's computer to connect to a wireless connection (in the same room) with any consistency at all. It never connects automatically and it frequently takes three or four manual attempts to connect (although it always does so eventually). I have tried all the so called fixes with the exception of turning off the gnome-keyring password which I think is too great a security risk.

I am not looking for an answer to my particular problem (if I was I would post the question elsewhere in the forum), in fact I would be obliged if you wouldn't even comment on it in this thread, but I would like to hear your thoughts of this problem as a whole.

Wireless internet is so vital to computing today that an OS that fails to deliver it is not long for this world!

I don't think by any means that this is purely a Mint problem, I am sure if you repeated the search on a Ubuntu forum you would get an even greater number of hits.

Can Linux afford this? I don't think so.

I think it needs to be addressed at a very high level and very soon.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby JasonLG on Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:31 am

I think it boils down to a lot of hardware manufacturers not writing drivers for Linux or at least releasing the device specifications so someone else can. What we end up without the support of the manufacturers is a bunch of drivers that are pretty much the product of reverse engineering and firmware hacks.(thru no fault of the developers of those drivers) The same can be said for video cards, sound cards, printers and really just about all hardware.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby JohnnyC35 on Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:56 am

which wireless manufacturers are Linux approved? Is there an actual defined list somewhere?
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby randomizer on Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:46 am

Realtek releases at least some open source drivers, but I don't know if they do it for all of their chipsets. My RTL8187L chipset has a free driver, fortunately.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby alpha1 on Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:04 am

Your post shall go unnoticed because Linux developers assume that every PC comes with a dedicated WIRED broadband.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby tdockery97 on Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:47 am

Another is the Atheros 5xxx and 9xxx. Atheros was smart enough to provide Ath5k and Ath9k drivers, otherwis I wouldn't be able to post here with my Atheros 9285 card.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby viking777 on Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:55 am

I was really thinking about network-manager problems when I wrote this post, but of course you are right drivers are a major issue as well. Perhaps there have been a rash of new wireless cards on the market just recently that don't have open source drivers. This would require new users to get to grips with ndiswrapper, and I dont even know how to use that myself. Luckily I don't have to, my Broadcom NetLink BCM5787M Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express card works with the tg3 driver, pretty well automatically.

Maybe posting details of cards that work well with Linux would be a help as JohnnyC35 kinda suggested. (there may already be a list somewhere, but I don't know where it is). The trouble with this approach is a practical one. If you have already purchased a computer then you already have the card that comes with it like it or not. If you are thinking of purchasing a new machine then how many suppliers give you a choice of wireless network cards as part of the package?
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby libssd on Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:14 am

viking777 wrote:Maybe posting details of cards that work well with Linux would be a help as JohnnyC35 kinda suggested. (there may already be a list somewhere, but I don't know where it is). The trouble with this approach is a practical one. If you have already purchased a computer then you already have the card that comes with it like it or not. If you are thinking of purchasing a new machine then how many suppliers give you a choice of wireless network cards as part of the package?


Good starting point here: http://linuxwireless.org/

But, as you observe, most people don't discover they have a wireless problem until after they have installed a Linux distro, which leads to a "Linux sucks" first impression. It's primarily a market share issue, exacerbated by "what's in it for me" for the hardware vendors.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby tdockery97 on Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:35 am

But, as you observe, most people don't discover they have a wireless problem until after they have installed a Linux distro, which leads to a "Linux sucks" first impression. It's primarily a market share issue, exacerbated by "what's in it for me" for the hardware vendors.


Exactly. I started out with "I want a laptop", which came with Windows 7. Then I discovered Linux Mint. It was just by chance that I bought a laptop that was fully supported. When I move to a more powerful laptop, I will now know what specs to look for.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby viking777 on Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:30 pm

Good starting point here: http://linuxwireless.org/


That is a good site, but I notice it doesn't even mention the tg3 driver that I am using to connect to wireless. Maybe this is because it is not 'open source' enough to warrant mention but since I managed to find it on a site called 'opendrivers.com' where it has been freely downloadable for 4 years, I don't quite understand why it is not mentioned.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby DrHu on Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:13 pm

viking777 wrote:So around 150 people in the last month are having difficulty with wireless connections. Now you could read into that the fact that we have a lot of newbies trying Mint out for the first time who haven't quite got to grips with things yet, and obviously that would be a good thing. Or you could read into it that there is a problem with wireless connections in general within Linux. I personally think it is the latter case. I am not a newbie, and yet I can't get my wife's computer to connect to a wireless connection (in the same room) with any consistency at all. p

..Or you could read into it that there is a problem with wireless connections in general within Linux.
I don't read it that way
--I see it as a lack of manufacturer (OEM) support, for their own business reasons, but like any software: network managers can exhibit bugs/problems, fortunately they are mostly getting fixed reasonably well.

Also, I see this type of statistic as special pleading, which is a fallacy
--the numbers ignore, including myself and anyone else who have little or no difficulty with any Linux distribution with the wireless devices I have used (Belkin and TPlink )
  • Belkin wireless G usb device
  • TPlLink TLwn321G 54G usb wireless devices

And I am sure there are thousands (1000's) or more than thousands of users with wireless on Linux, including these distributions (Mint) that have little or no difficulties, that is, in the words of the fans it just works..
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby viking777 on Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:30 pm

DrHu wrote:
viking777 wrote:So around 150 people in the last month are having difficulty with wireless connections. Now you could read into that the fact that we have a lot of newbies trying Mint out for the first time who haven't quite got to grips with things yet, and obviously that would be a good thing. Or you could read into it that there is a problem with wireless connections in general within Linux. I personally think it is the latter case. I am not a newbie, and yet I can't get my wife's computer to connect to a wireless connection (in the same room) with any consistency at all. p

..Or you could read into it that there is a problem with wireless connections in general within Linux.
I don't read it that way
--I see it as a lack of manufacturer (OEM) support, for their own business reasons, but like any software: network managers can exhibit bugs/problems, fortunately they are mostly getting fixed reasonably well.

Also, I see this type of statistic as special pleading, which is a fallacy
--the numbers ignore, including myself and anyone else who have little or no difficulty with any Linux distribution with the wireless devices I have used (Belkin and TPlink )
  • Belkin wireless G usb device
  • TPlLink TLwn321G 54G usb wireless devices

And I am sure there are thousands (1000's) or more than thousands of users with wireless on Linux, including these distributions (Mint) that have little or no difficulties, that is, in the words of the fans it just works..


Since I made that post I have counted at least another half dozen complaints about wireless, so I think you are just wrong.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby monkeyboy on Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:09 pm

Folks love to whine about things and if they can't find an immediate problem they will go looking for something to whine about. :roll: My take is before I do the drama thing I look at the source of my irritation and take my problem to them not somebody downstream who can't do me any good and may not want to hear it anyway. enjoy
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If you can't make something better, adapt
If you can't do either ball your panties up and cry.

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However doing it in public is really hardcore.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby JasonLG on Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:09 pm

viking777 wrote:I was really thinking about network-manager problems when I wrote this post, but of course you are right drivers are a major issue as well. Perhaps there have been a rash of new wireless cards on the market just recently that don't have open source drivers. This would require new users to get to grips with ndiswrapper, and I dont even know how to use that myself. Luckily I don't have to, my Broadcom NetLink BCM5787M Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express card works with the tg3 driver, pretty well automatically.

Maybe posting details of cards that work well with Linux would be a help as JohnnyC35 kinda suggested. (there may already be a list somewhere, but I don't know where it is). The trouble with this approach is a practical one. If you have already purchased a computer then you already have the card that comes with it like it or not. If you are thinking of purchasing a new machine then how many suppliers give you a choice of wireless network cards as part of the package?



I'm sorry I assumed you were talking about drivers. I must be lucky, I've never had a problem with Network Manager.

A lot of the posts that I read and respond to are to do with people just being new and not knowing how to set up wireless if it doesn't work out of the box. Sometimes it's them not knowing where or how to download and install the drivers other times it's people wanting to setup a static IP or what not. I run into more human errors than software bugs.

And when it comes to picking wireless cards when I bought my laptop from Dell a couple years ago I had my choice of three different ones. I don't know if any of them have open source drivers or not but the at least I has a choice. And even if you aren't given a choice for the most part wireless cards are replaceable I believe.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby viking777 on Fri Aug 06, 2010 5:17 am

I'm sorry I assumed you were talking about drivers. I must be lucky, I've never had a problem with Network Manager.


Me neither as it happens, but my wife's computer certainly does, and so do many others if you read through some of the forum posts. I know it is not a driver issue with her machine because the old copy of Mandriva 2008 which is still installed on that machine connects to our wireless network first time, every time but the version of network manager on Ubuntu 9.10 is reluctant as hell to connect. I repeat I am not looking for answers to this - my wife insists on using Windows 99.99% of the time anyway, so it is not an issue for her, it is just an illustration that the problem I was referring to is real not imaginary.

when I bought my laptop from Dell a couple years ago I had my choice of three different ones


That surprises me, I have never been offered any choice in the matter.

for the most part wireless cards are replaceable I believe.


Absolutely, but when you have just shelled out for a new computer most folk don't want to start out by replacing its parts. Also on laptops/netbooks they can be difficult to access ( I know there are usb devices that you can buy but again it comes down to cost).
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby JasonLG on Fri Aug 06, 2010 5:54 am

viking777 wrote:Me neither as it happens, but my wife's computer certainly does, and so do many others if you read through some of the forum posts. I know it is not a driver issue with her machine because the old copy of Mandriva 2008 which is still installed on that machine connects to our wireless network first time, every time but the version of network manager on Ubuntu 9.10 is reluctant as hell to connect. I repeat I am not looking for answers to this - my wife insists on using Windows 99.99% of the time anyway, so it is not an issue for her, it is just an illustration that the problem I was referring to is real not imaginary.


I absolutely agree that there is a problem with spotty wireless in Linux. All those posts can't lie. I'm not offering a solution here( :D) but but my guess as to why Mint has trouble and Mandriva 2008 doesn't would be 1. Possible kernel regression and 2. Mandriva is KDE. Again not offering a solution.

viking777 wrote:Absolutely, but when you have just shelled out for a new computer most folk don't want to start out by replacing its parts. Also on laptops/netbooks they can be difficult to access ( I know there are usb devices that you can buy but again it comes down to cost).


For sure. If you want a new desktop computer that is 100% Linux compatible you would be better off doing your homework and building it yourself then buying one off the shelf.(it's cheaper too) But for laptops it's often times a shot in the dark, your pretty much stuck with what the OEM's offer as building your own laptop isn't very practical. But there are a couple companies that do a decent job Like Asus, Acer, and Dell to name a few.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby MALsPa on Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:35 am

I'm sure lots of folks are doing fine with wireless in Linux, but I see so many posts at various forums about problems with wireless that I've shied away from even trying to switch from my wired set-up.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby lexon on Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:17 pm

I wish I could give a usable answer. I purchased at Walmart, an Acer standard laptop with wireless and installed Mint 7. Wireless works just fine at home and different access places.
I put PCI wireless cards that I got from ebay in both my desktops that run Mint 7 at home that are about four to six years old and the wireless works just fine.
I do not mess with the OS and added a few applications from Mint.

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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby Midnighter on Wed Aug 11, 2010 1:02 am

People would rather blame the freely available OS rather than the manufacturers or themselves for sheer fricking laziness.
If you accept - and I do - that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible. That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don't say or like or want said.
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Re: How long can we go on like this? - Wireless.

Postby tdockery97 on Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:12 am

People would rather blame the freely available OS rather than the manufacturers or themselves for sheer fricking laziness.


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