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[SOLVED] Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:26 pm
by br1anstorm
I have Mint 19.1 XFCE installed on my Samsung laptop (which has a Broadcom wifi adapter). Most of the time I connect to the internet using a hard-wired (ethernet) cable to my NetgearDG834G v3 router. The connection is fast and reliable.

I'm sure the router and the ISP/internet service are fine. My wife's Windows computer, and our Android phones and tablet, have solid wifi connections.

But on this Mint laptop, when I connect without using the ethernet cable, the wifi connection is flaky. Until a few months ago, it was solid and reliable: I'm wondering if a recent update has messed with the wifi. Now, I get repeated popups asking for the WPA password to be re-input. When the wifi connection is made, it drops out frequently. Many websites simply don't load, or are very slow. Sometimes Mint's Update Manager and Driver Manager say they cannot connect or refresh. It is becoming a really tedious experience.

Here is (I think) the essential info needed for troubleshooting:

first, the inxi-Fxzd report

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brian@brian-samsungRF511:~$ inxi -Fxzd
System:
  Host: brian-samsungRF511 Kernel: 4.15.0-58-generic x86_64 bits: 64 
  compiler: gcc v: 7.4.0 Desktop: Xfce 4.12.3 Distro: Linux Mint 19.1 Tessa 
  base: Ubuntu 18.04 bionic 
Machine:
  Type: Laptop System: SAMSUNG product: RF511/RF411/RF711 v: 14HX 
  serial: <filter> 
  Mobo: SAMSUNG model: RF511/RF411/RF711 v: 14HX serial: <filter> 
  BIOS: American Megatrends v: 14HX.M040.20111020.SSH date: 10/20/2011 
Battery:
  ID-1: BAT1 charge: 41.9 Wh condition: 54.4/57.7 Wh (94%) 
  model: SAMSUNG Electronics status: Unknown 
CPU:
  Topology: Dual Core model: Intel Core i5-2450M bits: 64 type: MT MCP 
  arch: Sandy Bridge rev: 7 L2 cache: 3072 KiB 
  flags: lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3 vmx bogomips: 19954 
  Speed: 798 MHz min/max: 800/3100 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 798 2: 798 
  3: 798 4: 798 
Graphics:
  Device-1: Intel 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics 
  vendor: Samsung Co driver: i915 v: kernel bus ID: 00:02.0 
  Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.19.6 driver: modesetting unloaded: fbdev,vesa 
  resolution: 1366x768~60Hz 
  OpenGL: renderer: Mesa DRI Intel Sandybridge Mobile v: 3.3 Mesa 19.0.2 
  direct render: Yes 
Audio:
  Device-1: Intel 6 Series/C200 Series Family High Definition Audio 
  vendor: Samsung Co driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus ID: 00:1b.0 
  Sound Server: ALSA v: k4.15.0-58-generic 
Network:
  Device-1: Broadcom and subsidiaries BCM4313 802.11bgn Wireless Network 
  Adapter 
  vendor: Wistron NeWeb driver: bcma-pci-bridge v: N/A port: e040 
  bus ID: 01:00.0 
  Device-2: Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet 
  vendor: Samsung Co driver: r8169 v: 2.3LK-NAPI port: c000 bus ID: 02:00.0 
  IF: enp2s0 state: up speed: 100 Mbps duplex: full mac: <filter> 
  IF-ID-1: wlp1s0b1 state: up mac: <filter> 
Drives:
  Local Storage: total: 2.05 TiB used: 249.85 GiB (11.9%) 
  ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: Hitachi model: HTS547575A9E384 size: 698.64 GiB 
  ID-2: /dev/sdb type: USB model: TO Exter nal USB 3.0 size: 465.76 GiB 
  ID-3: /dev/sdc type: USB vendor: Seagate model: Expansion size: 931.51 GiB 
  Optical-1: /dev/sr0 vendor: Slimtype model: DVD A DS8A8SH rev: KS21 
  dev-links: cdrom,cdrw,dvd,dvdrw 
  Features: speed: 24 multisession: yes audio: yes dvd: yes 
  rw: cd-r,cd-rw,dvd-r,dvd-ram state: running "Do not use this device"
Partition:
  ID-1: / size: 53.89 GiB used: 16.64 GiB (30.9%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda8 
  ID-2: swap-1 size: 8.00 GiB used: 0 KiB (0.0%) fs: swap dev: /dev/sda5 
Sensors:
  System Temperatures: cpu: 45.0 C mobo: 45.0 C 
  Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A 
Info:
  Processes: 201 Uptime: 44m Memory: 7.70 GiB used: 1.69 GiB (21.9%) 
  Init: systemd runlevel: 5 Compilers: gcc: 7.4.0 Shell: bash v: 4.4.20 
  inxi: 3.0.27

and next, rfkill

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brian@brian-samsungRF511:~$ rfkill list all
0: phy0: Wireless LAN
	Soft blocked: no
	Hard blocked: no
1: samsung-wlan: Wireless LAN
	Soft blocked: no
	Hard blocked: no
2: samsung-bluetooth: Bluetooth
	Soft blocked: no
	Hard blocked: no
3: hci0: Bluetooth
	Soft blocked: no
	Hard blocked: no
also....iwconfig confirms that power management is off as Pjotr recommends....

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brian@brian-samsungRF511:~$ iwconfig
lo        no wireless extensions.

wlp1s0b1  IEEE 802.11  ESSID:"HOLMSIDE"  
          Mode:Managed  Frequency:2.462 GHz  Access Point: 00:1B:2F:97:CD:F2   
          Bit Rate=54 Mb/s   Tx-Power=30 dBm   
          Retry short limit:7   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
          Power Management:off
          Link Quality=70/70  Signal level=-22 dBm  
          Rx invalid nwid:0  Rx invalid crypt:0  Rx invalid frag:0
          Tx excessive retries:32  Invalid misc:63   Missed beacon:0

enp2s0    no wireless extensions.
 
Here is the lsusb

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brian@brian-samsungRF511:~$ lsusb
Bus 002 Device 003: ID 0a5c:219c Broadcom Corp. 
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 003: ID 0bc2:231a Seagate RSS LLC 
Bus 004 Device 002: ID 0080:a001  
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 2232:1008 Silicon Motion 
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
and finally... lspci

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brian@brian-samsungRF511:~$ lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family DRAM Controller (rev 09)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 09)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series/C200 Series Chipset Family MEI Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1a.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series/C200 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #2 (rev 04)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 6 Series/C200 Series Chipset Family High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series/C200 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 1 (rev b4)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series/C200 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 4 (rev b4)
00:1c.4 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 6 Series/C200 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 5 (rev b4)
00:1d.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series/C200 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation HM65 Express Chipset LPC Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 6 Series/C200 Series Chipset Family 6 port Mobile SATA AHCI Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 6 Series/C200 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller (rev 04)
01:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Inc. and subsidiaries BCM4313 802.11bgn Wireless Network Adapter (rev 01)
02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 06)
03:00.0 USB controller: NEC Corporation uPD720200 USB 3.0 Host Controller (rev 04)
I cannot interpret all this detail. But I think, or suspect, that if there is a problem it is related to the Broadcom BCM4313 adapter. I launched Driver Manager. It lists the Broadcom adapter, and below that says "This device is not working", the bcmwl-kernel-source version 6.30.223.271+bdcom0ubuntu4 is greyed out or unselected, and the other button below saying "Do not use this device" is selected.

What should I do to re-establish a good wifi connection?

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:29 pm
by Pjotr
Try booting from an older kernel. You can find those under the header "Advanced" in the Grub bootloader menu.

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:53 pm
by br1anstorm
Thanks Pjotr - have just done a quick-and-dirty trial.

I was running the 4.15.0.58 kernel and having wifi trouble.

I have just rebooted using the previous kernel, 4.15.0.55. Using this one, the wifi seems to be working OK - or rather the connection isn't dropping out. But again, Update Manager and Driver Manager are saying they can't connect/refresh, and my impression is that websites are still loading a bit slower than usual.

I also have a couple of other older kernels still available under the advanced setting in Grub - .54 and .52. I haven't yet tried running either of them to see if they are any better or different. Will experiment with both of them to see if I get better results

Just to add to the picture, the latest refresh of Update Manager is offering me kernel 4.15.0.62.64!

I normally like to keep my system up to date. Do I move on to the latest kernel, or should I uninstall .58 and revert to one of the earlier kernels?

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 4:41 pm
by br1anstorm
A quick update after trying all the previous kernels. Not a very encouraging picture. Here's a full summary:

kernel 4.15.0.58 (the latest one installed) - intermittent and poor quality wifi as per original post;

4.15.0.55 (the one I'm now using!) - wifi connection seems pretty solid, but speed (eg when running Driver Manager) is slow **

4.15.0.54 - wifi very slow to make connection, speed of connection and website-loading unbelievably slow. Driver Manager and Update Manager won't refresh at all, saying "no internet access";

4.15.0.52 - no wifi connection made - my router is listed, but the system tray symbol just rotates as if trying to connect and failing;

4.15.0.20 (still listed in Grub!) - no wifi connection at all, as above.

** when looking at the "Connection Information" for the wifi, it displays 54Mbps but seems to oscillate between that figure and 1Mbps. And in case it's relevant, that display shows that the driver being used is brcmsmac.

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:16 pm
by Pjotr
Try the 4.15.0-62.

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:41 pm
by Minux1
I had similar problems running LM v19.2 XFCE on my ancient IBM G40 ThinkPad ... pop-up message boxes asking for the router password and indicating the WiFi was disconnected.
Disabled the incumbent ¨old as the hills" (a,b,g) WiFi card and installed a period D-Link PCMCIA card (a,b,g,n) I found laying in a junk box in the G40s PCMCIA slot and changed the settings to enable iPv6 protocol and clear sailing ever since. :mrgreen:

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:51 pm
by Minux1
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I observed that there was native support for the D-Link PCMCIA card. I never had to search for or install a single 3rd party driver!! :shock: :D
As the emoticons indicate it was shock and then pure DELIGHT. :mrgreen:

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:14 pm
by br1anstorm
Minux1
Thanks for your comment - but I fear it is of little help in my particular situation. My laptop is very different; it has no PCMCIA slot, so the route you were lucky enough to follow is not one that I can take.

I shall try Pjotr's latest suggestion.... and maybe also await advice from others based on the specifics of my system and installation.

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:45 am
by br1anstorm
Pjotr wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:16 pm
Try the 4.15.0-62.
I just updated - the kernel and various other updates including Firefox, systemd, and lots of others.

Rebooted so that I'm now running 4.15.0-62.

The wireless connection is useless. The icon rotates as if it is trying to make a connection, but it fails to do so. I can only connect to the internet .... and my printer... if I use the hard-wire ethernet cable to my router.

Before rebooting (while still using 4.15.0-58) I looked at the wifi connection details when it appeared, briefly, to have a connection. It showed the driver as being brcmsmac, and the speed as "unknown" and then, fleetingly, as 1Mb/s. (The wifi connection should be 54Mb/s).

It's worrying that the forum seems to be filling with a growing list of complaints about poor or non-existent wifi connections. Obviously different Mint users have different hardware (and presumably different adapters). I am little the wiser as to whether the problem is a kernel update (I've tried several older ones), a driver issue, or something else. But troubleshooting takes time, and we have lives to lead. A laptop without a solid and reliable wifi connection is as much use as a chocolate teapot. It's the sort of problem that is likely to drive users away from Mint, as well as damaging Mint's reputation - which would be a pity.

I can't easily change my machine's hardware. I am deeply loyal to Mint, and would be reluctant to switch to another OS. But Mint could be in line for the chop, to be replaced by another OS, unless an effective solution is identified soon.

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:12 am
by rjsrjs
I had a similar problem on an older 32 bit laptop. If you go to Broadcom website you my find an answer there or google it with your Broadcom adapter number.

Good Luck.

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:57 am
by br1anstorm
Another update (I'm still trying to gather evidence that helps to identify the problem).

I've just booted up my laptop (Samsung RF511, Broadcom 4313 wifi adapter) into a live session of MX Linux, which I happened to have on a USB stick.

The wireless connects instantly, rock-solid at 54 Mb/s, and operates perfectly.

(I could have noted before, but didn't, that Win7 which is installed as dual boot on my laptop, also connects flawlessly via wifi)

To my simple mind this suggests that if MX (and Win7) can make it work, there is nothing intrinsically wrong or odd about my hardware; and that the Broadcom wifi adapter itself isn't the problem. The finger points increasingly at Mint not performing as it should. That's not good news.

For what it's worth, when I examine the wifi connection info in MX Linux, it says that the driver being used is "wl" - whereas Mint apparently uses brcmsmac. I have no idea whether this is part of the problem. I know that it is possible to install and use different drivers, and I vaguely recall from years ago that making Broadcom wifi adapters work was sometimes a problem and involved all sorts of work in the terminal to arrange "blacklisting".

But I would rather hope that it's possible to tweak Mint to make the wifi work, rather than having to get into the complexities of searching the Broadcom website without really knowing what I'm looking for!

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:55 pm
by Minux1
It´s been long debated whether it would be preferable to be lucky or smart.
I must be lucky because I´m certainly not smart.
All of my Linux configs so far have worked and are continuing to work knock on wood. :D
I think the secret lies in concocting a list of Linux friendly hardware based on the actual experience of others.
I´m pretty sure from my own personal experience IBM & Lenovo ThinkPads and Acer netbooks are on that list.
Things just don´t happen by accident.
Acer netbooks were designed to work with Linux (Linpus Linux) and work with Linux Mint like a charm.
I knew that and had checked it out before acquiring my Acer netbooks.
I will add ´due diligence´ to the ingredients (luck, smarts) that add up to a successful Linux configuration.
Do your due diligence and do the research on any computer you are thinking of buying and installing Linux on.
Have other people´s experience indicated that the contemplated hardware is Linux friendly?
Learn from the mistakes of others rather than repeat them.
I´m no computer guru but I have basic reading skills and know from doing my homework (research) when something works and when it doesn´t.
For instance if 5 other credible people have had bad experiences trying to install/run Linux with a certain make and model of laptop why would I buy into a project doomed to failure?
This is raw horse sense (walking around trouble rather than being caught in the pool of quicksand) you don´t have to be a MIT computer science grad to exercise.

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:11 pm
by JeremyB
br1anstorm wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:57 am
Another update (I'm still trying to gather evidence that helps to identify the problem).

I've just booted up my laptop (Samsung RF511, Broadcom 4313 wifi adapter) into a live session of MX Linux, which I happened to have on a USB stick.

The wireless connects instantly, rock-solid at 54 Mb/s, and operates perfectly.

(I could have noted before, but didn't, that Win7 which is installed as dual boot on my laptop, also connects flawlessly via wifi)

To my simple mind this suggests that if MX (and Win7) can make it work, there is nothing intrinsically wrong or odd about my hardware; and that the Broadcom wifi adapter itself isn't the problem. The finger points increasingly at Mint not performing as it should. That's not good news.

For what it's worth, when I examine the wifi connection info in MX Linux, it says that the driver being used is "wl" - whereas Mint apparently uses brcmsmac. I have no idea whether this is part of the problem. I know that it is possible to install and use different drivers, and I vaguely recall from years ago that making Broadcom wifi adapters work was sometimes a problem and involved all sorts of work in the terminal to arrange "blacklisting".

But I would rather hope that it's possible to tweak Mint to make the wifi work, rather than having to get into the complexities of searching the Broadcom website without really knowing what I'm looking for!
If MX uses wl and that works fine, do

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sudo apt install broadcom-sta-dkms
Reboot

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:12 pm
by br1anstorm
JeremyB.... I'm not normally inclined to believe in miracles, and I don't want to be too hasty in my judgements as I've only done a ten-minute test. But - hooray!

I followed your advice, have rebooted, and the wifi now simply works! No rotating icon as it struggles to connect. It's now using the wl driver, and the connection information shows a steady 54Mb/s (whereas before it was fluctuating between 1 Mb/s, 11 Mb/s and 48 Mb/s). Web-pages load more quickly, the connection isn't dropping out, and both Update Manager and Driver Manager refresh immediately with no popups saying I'm not connected or the repository can't be found...

Is it magic? Is it witchcraft? Is it great wisdom? Is it luck? I have no idea. But on the evidence so far, JeremyB - you have cracked it, and I'm very grateful.

(I just wonder, mischievously: if I hadn't mentioned trying out MX Linux and seeing what wifi driver it used, would it still have been possible to diagnose the problem and identify this solution from the other details and terminal info I posted earlier?)

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 10:03 am
by JeremyB
My old Toshiba laptop has a BCM4313 wifi card and it worked fine with either driver but there are some versions that don't work well with the kernel module

Re: Wifi connection intermittent and poor quality

Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 5:21 pm
by br1anstorm
Rather confirms that finding the right driver(s) for Broadcom wifi adapters is a bit of a lottery.

Anyhow, after 24 hours of reliable wifi connection (at last) I'm marking this thread as Solved....