Fedora Linux (fc8) on my new laptop… the wireless saga

I love it when a plan comes together but hate it when I can’t think of a catchy title for a post. Oh well. In my last post regarding my new laptop, things have been progressing.

My last statement in that post said something about how there is something to be said about having a Mac “just work out of the box” but I’ve seen lots of people post saying that part of the fun of Linux, is trying to get things to work. It can be downright frustrating, of course, but when it works, it works well.

My laptop is a Toshiba A215 (which I just added another 2GB of ram). It’s a great laptop. Vista works well with it. I can’t complain about that, but I’ve been wanting to run Linux full time on it. One of the quirks of this laptop is that the wireless device shows up as an usb device, which is something very strange:

[jpabian@stoshua]~% lsusb
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0bda:8197 Realtek Semiconductor Corp.

This wireless device is indeed a Realtek RTL8187B. Some people have gotten it to work and others have just given up on it. Those of the people who got it to work have hardcoded the wifi settings in a config file. I wanted to have the nifty wifi-selector that “NetworkManager” provides. I don’t want to hardcode anything (like the Mac). I searched and searched and tried everything I could find to do. I found a lot of really great resources but nothing worked. This was one of the best sites:

  • Realtek Linux wireless driver project

I mean it, I was pulling my hair out. It shouldn’t be this hard. I began to be disappointed with my otherwise ideal laptop. I started to read about other wireless USB devices that work with linux. I came up with a plan. I checked out Circuit City’s, Best Buy’s, and Office Depot’s websites to see what they had on sale AND what wireless USB devices worked under linux.

One page I had found (and you know, I can’t find it now!), had a list of pretty much all the wireless USB devices and if they had kernel support or if drivers existed. But it also had a column that reported if it “worked out of the box” or not. Each of the stores I mentioned above had a Linksys on sale, AND it was reported to “work out of the box!” I was excited but also very nervous whether or not it would work. I saw a few posts around where people where having problems with. I picked up the Linksys® WUSB54GC Wireless-G USB 2.0 Network Adapter for $50 after “instant savings.”


So when the moment of truth came, I plugged in the WUSB54GC into one of my USB ports and say the following message:

Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> wlan1: Device is fully-supported using driver ‘rt73usb’.
Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> (wlan1): exporting device as /org/freedesktop/NetworkManager/Device/4
Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> Now managing wireless (802.11) device ‘wlan1’.
Dec 2 17:07:41 stoshua NetworkManager: <info> Bringing up device wlan1

It worked! I didn’t have to do anything! Sure enough, NetworkManager presented me with both my wireless networks (and my neighbors’). I couldn’t believe it. It works great. It works good on the suspend and resume functions of my laptop.

Sure, I really wish that the onboard wifi worked under Linux, but from I’ve read, they’ve only just merged the driver support into the very latest kernel sources so I suspect that support will continue to get better. But for now, I’m very happy with this device.

Now, the only lingering item is sound. Fedora 8 went to using Pulse Audio for the default sound server. Sure looks good on paper, but it doesn’t work and I’m not the only one; there are several threads over at the Fedora Forums talking about it. But FC8 is still bleeding edge. It will work sooner than later, I’m sure.

I’ll save that for another post.

6 thoughts on “Fedora Linux (fc8) on my new laptop… the wireless saga

  1. Pingback: Fedora Werewolf (fc8) on toshiba laptop… the sound saga

  2. I stumbled onto this blog while researching my own Linux/wifi problems. Like you, I bought a Toshiba A215 thinking that I could run Linux– I’ve heard that Toshiba has great Linux support, right? Well, FC 7 did load fairly easily, and I get the basics: cabled networking, web browsing and the like; but no sound, no video, and it won’t synch with my PDA. And most depressing: no wifi. After pulling my hair out for weeks, I found your blog and thought this USB network card would be a cheap, if temporary, fix while I worked on getting Linux to recognize the onboard wifi card. I brought it home and eagerly installed it in my laptop only to find when I turned it on that nothing happens. The laptop apparently doesn’t even know it’s there. The included CD is no help because it only runs on Windows. What a disappointment! I guess I’m back to where I started from. I’m sure glad Linux is such a great OS, because otherwise I would have chucked it years ago.

    You owe me $65.

  3. Just hold on a second. If you did get the same USB adapter I got, the WUSB54GC, then is should work since the latest Fedora kernel has the module, rt73usb.ko.

    You can verify it actually lives on your system by typing “locate rt73usb.ko”

    You can also verify that the laptop “knows it is there” by looking at /var/log/messages. You should see the kernel recognize it when you plug it in.

    Another thing to check is to make sure NetworkManager is running. I believe I had to enable it and start it at boot up by going to System -> Administration -> Services.

    Finally, if you really truly can’t get it to work, can’t you return it to the store you got it from?

    I also got a no name USB wireless adapter that is much smaller than the WUSB54GC, but it used the zd1211rw.ko which was in the old Fedora kernel but not included in the latest. My latest challenge is to get that module going on my laptop. It works great with the older kernel, (where it was part of the package).

    Good luck!

  4. iHatePenguins ‘s problem is FC7. Out of curiosity, I tried the device in FC7. I had to manually load the drivers, and even then, the device would not show up in the network configuration tool. I then moved over to FC8, and presto, the drivers auto-magically loaded as soon as I plugged the USB stick in. The networking came up fine. Hooray for Core 8!

  5. I’ve since upgraded to FC8. While it wasn’t easy, with the help of the local Linux expert, I finally got wifi working with the Linksys adaptor. Sometimes I have to reload the rt73usb driver. That’s at work; for some reason, I still haven’t been able to get it to work at home. But I suppose it’s just a matter of finding the right settings. The next step will be to get the onboard Atheros adaptor working. Thanks for your help guys. Maybe I don’t hate penguins quite so much now.

  6. I have the same problem on FC8 werewolf, Except I have a Belkin 54g Wireless adapter and It Does use the rt73usb.ko driver Yet sometimes it rarely works, I was wondering how you reload a driver? is it the “modprobe rt73usb” command?

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