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Wireless on Ubuntu Linux 8.04 Hardy Heron April 3, 2008

Posted by techscope in linux, ubuntu.
Tags: , , ,

There’s been much talk over the years that Ubuntu Linux, notwithstanding being a rich desktop environment rivaling Windows and Mac OS in every possible way, still leaves much to be desired when it comes to wireless networking.

My experience with this distro has been pretty positive from the beginning, but when I first got my USB wireless dongle into the port after installing Ndiswrapper (that was on 7.04 – Feisty Fawn, some 8 months ago), almost immediately the system froze on me, and would do so every time I wanted to go wireless.

Rummaging through forums, I found out that a CPU lock-up bug was to blame, and since wireless connection is a must on my laptop, and I did not want to buy a new natively supported wi-fi card, I abandoned Feisty altogether. I even decided to wait it out when Gutsy Gibbon came around.

Worth saying, I resorted to Puppy Linux for a while, which handled wireless out of the box with flying colors.
I may have had some subliminal trepidation after burning the Hardy Heron (beta) .iso image and running the installer. Sure, what other bugs could one expect?

Ok, folks, Ndiswrapper installed with my wi-fi usb dongle windows driver over it. WPA2/WPA encryption on. Ready, steady, GO!

Trying to connect to the wireless network… forever… DHCP wouldn’t assign an IP address. Static IP wouldn’t work either.

I tweaked Ubuntu back and forth and even managed to connect on 3 out of a hundred occasions, using plain terminal commands and a couple of scripts. But it was only stable enough until the next reboot.

It seems the problem lies with slight differences in the implementation of WPA algorithms by various vendors. In this case, wpa_supplicant VS my router’s encryption schemes are a tad not fully compatible.

It is also worth mentioning, that I am writing this from Hardy Heron on wireless, same set-up, but WEP-128 encryption.

Bottom line:

The state of wireless in Ubuntu Hardy (beta) is workable, but stable enough only using WEP encryption, which is outdated and easily crackable, providing minimum security.

Let us hope WPA implementation and other wireless bugs will be done away with in the stable release, due in just over 20 days from now.



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