Ubuntu 11.04 broke my wireless

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Arancaytar
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Ubuntu 11.04 broke my wireless

Postby Arancaytar » Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:37 pm UTC

I've now run into this issue four different ways that seem wildly different, but can be traced back to the common cause of Ubuntu making a complete mess of the Broadcom wireless drivers in Natty.

1.) After upgrading my existing 10.10 installation to 11.04, the system initially was left completely unable to start. I never found out why, but the problem later reappeared (see 3) and was fixed by blacklisting the apparently broken brcm80211 kernel module (alternatively by disabling the wireless device in bios, either one worked). Without knowing that, I had no option but to reinstall.

2.) I did a clean install of 11.04, which at least got the system to boot again. However, NetworkManager now claimed "wireless interface disabled by hardware switch" even though the device was set to be enabled (and after disabling the hardware switch) in bios. Some searching showed that others had fixed this problem by downgrading the also broken bcmwl-kernel-source package from the Natty version "5.100.82.38+bdcom-0ubuntu3" back to the Maverick version "5.60.48.36+bdcom-0ubuntu5", and so I did exactly that, and it worked for a week.

3.) The hardware switch was still disabled, so I enabled it in Bios and tried to use it now that the issue seemed to be fixed. Bad idea. The system froze and was left in the same unbootable state as in 1, even after disabling the hardware switch again. I searched a bit and found a post that had solved the problem by installing broadcom-sta-common and blacklisting the brcm80211 module, and this made my system bootable again. Still no wireless.

4.) Currently, the system recognizes that there is a wireless module, but it can't use it. When I installed the latest bcmwl-kernel-source module, I got the issue from 2.) ("disabled by hardware switch"); when I downgraded back to 5.60, this message disappeared but I still can't connect to anything. "iwlist scan" shows an error of "failed to read scan data: invalid argument".

modprobe -l wl shows that the file updates/dkms/wl.ko is loaded which is binary-identical to the file /var/lib/dkms/bcmwl/5.60.48.36+bdcom/2.6.38-11-generic/x86_64/module/wl.ko.

I also grepped modprobe -l for "wl" to see what else might be enabled, and got back the following. Not sure if any of it is relevant:

Code: Select all

kernel/drivers/mfd/wl1273-core.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/wl12xx/wl12xx.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/wl12xx/wl12xx_spi.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/wl12xx/wl12xx_sdio.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/wl3501_cs.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/rndis_wlan.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/mwl8k.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/iwlwifi/iwlcore.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/iwlwifi/iwlagn.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/iwlwifi/iwl3945.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/wl1251/wl1251.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/wl1251/wl1251_spi.ko
kernel/drivers/net/wireless/wl1251/wl1251_sdio.ko
kernel/drivers/media/radio/radio-wl1273.ko
kernel/drivers/staging/wlan-ng/prism2_usb.ko
kernel/drivers/staging/wlags49_h2/wlags49_h2_cs.ko
kernel/drivers/staging/wlags49_h25/wlags49_h25_cs.ko
kernel/sound/soc/codecs/snd-soc-wl1273.ko
kernel/net/netfilter/ipvs/ip_vs_wlc.ko
updates/dkms/wl.ko
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Arancaytar
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Re: Ubuntu 11.04 broke my wireless

Postby Arancaytar » Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:52 pm UTC

... I have no idea what just happened, but after two days of trying to get it working and failing, the wireless suddenly switched itself on and connected. As did the Bluetooth adapter, which hasn't worked in ages.

I wasn't at the computer when it happened, and neither was anyone else. It's kind of weird.

Edit: Simple and hilarious explanation. Leaving the room, I closed the door, which stuck on the cat5 cable and pulled it loose from the computer. Apparently, the system is unable to cope with eth0 and eth1 being active simultaneously, and switches the wireless off if a cable is connected. Pulling the cable out solved the problem. I'd already fixed the driver issue by downgrading the version, all that was missing was the cable thing.
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Re: Ubuntu 11.04 broke my wireless

Postby phlip » Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:52 am UTC

Arancaytar wrote:Apparently, the system is unable to cope with eth0 and eth1 being active simultaneously

Are they both connected to the same network? Most systems don't like that... it tends to confuse the routing. I'm not familiar with one that'll automatically shut one off as you describe... but then I haven't tried much. I know Windows will just give you an error message if you have two network interfaces in the same subnet.

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squig
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Re: Ubuntu 11.04 broke my wireless

Postby squig » Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:14 pm UTC

I have Ubuntu 10.10 (haven't bitten the upgrade bullet yet) in a laptop with a Broadcom wireless card and had endless problems getting it to work, my solution was to use the b43 driver after a convoluted series of steps involving extracting and patching the firmware. Possibly you could investigate this as well, it may be that you can get both interfaces working at the same time as well!

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Re: Ubuntu 11.04 broke my wireless

Postby Arancaytar » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:03 am UTC

It doesn't look like a routing problem, as the ethernet cable prevents the wireless device from connecting to any access point, not just one on the same network. The Bluetooth device is also disabled, and in fact the indicator light (a small LED built into the wireless switch key) switches to "disabled" when the cable is inserted.
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