Getting Wireless (internal card) working on Linux

Recently I had ocassion to require wireless access on my Linux box. This is notoriously difficult in Linux as of now, although most other hardware devices are found and work right out of the box. I’d gotten it working on my laptop before, but this time it was necessary to get it working on my desktop. At first I tried a USB wireless device, but those are almost no support in Linux so I ditched that effort and bought a D-Link DWL-G510 Wifi G pci card. I hoped it would work out of the box, but it didn’t.

After connection inside the PC it was just there without working or anything. The only way to get it to work involved getting the ndiswrapper program, a program for using the Windows device drivers instead of waiting for Linux people to figure out how to reverse-engineer the drivers. I am using Fedora Core 3 and, unfortunately, they use a 4k kernel, which doesn’t work with the Windows drivers. I had to go to to see the Fedora instructions. This involved downloading the patched kernel from the link listed there. It worked just fine and I just boot from that kernel instead of the one I had before. (This after a few hours of searching on Google were fruitless) Once that was done I followed the instructions on that page to create and install an RPM of ndiswrapper program. For my particular wireless card ndiswrapper can use the drivers that come on the CD-ROM. So I navigated to the drivers’ location on the CD-ROM and typed

ndiswrapper -i filename.inf

where filename was the name of the inf file. Then I typed

ndiswrapper -l

and it told me the driver and hardware were present. I then went to my /etc/modprobe.conf file and added

options ndiswrapper if_name=eth1
alias eth1 ndiswrapper

Finally I typed

modprobe ndiswrapper

finally everything was working! I was able to go into the network configuration GUI in Fedora and configure/activate a wireless connection and here I am using it! There’s just one thing I haven’t figured out yet – how to get it to load automatically when I start up my computer. So far I have to type that every time I log in. Still, at least I finally have wireless working, which is no small task in Linux.

Next I will share my experiences making my Linux computer into a nat box – essentially converting it into a wireless router for my room. This should, theoretically, all me to also connect my windows computer to the Linux one and, therefore, have them both access the Internet withouth needing two wifi cards – which is a good thing if the computers are right next to each other. Why spend ~$100 when you can just spend $50? (for purely reference point – this was written 3 June 2005 although it won’t appear for a couple of days)