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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Installing a WiFi (Wireless) Card in Kubuntu: Using ndisgtk and ndiswrapper

If you are like me, then after you installed Kubuntu 6.06 Dapper, you noticed that your wireless card is NOT working. Well have no fear, if you were Google-ing around and found this site, you're in luck! Installing a wireless card is pretty straight forward once you know what programs you need to install.

Step 1: Download the Driver
The very first step is to go to your wifi card's manufacturers website, or your computer model's drivers page and download the proper driver for your wifi card.
For example:
I installed a my wifi card for my R3000 series Compaq Presario Laptop. I went to the HP support site and entered in the numbers on my computer. In this case I have a R3038CL. I entered that into the search engine on the HP support site, and viola, it took me to my computer's support page where I was able to click on the “Download” section and download my wireless card's driver. (More on my Compaq Presario Laptop on down.)

Step 2: Get the Downloaded and Extracted Driver to Linux
Now this is a WINDOWS driver, so you can't just double-click the .exe of the driver in Linux and hope it works... The easiest thing to do, IF you are a Windows user (which you probably are if you are installing your wireless card from a windows machine. ;) is to download that file in Windows, then extract it (double-click on it and follow the instructions!) in Windows and either burn it on a CD or slap it on a thumbdrive. If you can't do either of those, you can also put it on your C: drive and navigate to it on Linux by going to /media and finding your Windows hard drive. But don't leave it there, you must copy it over to, say, your home folder (/home/username) or your Desktop (/home/username/Desktop).

Step 3: Using Adept. (Skip this if you are already adept at Adept.)
Okay, IF this is the first time you've installed anything on Kubuntu and IF you were not able to complete the installation while online (in other words you had to unplug your compy from the internet to get it to install), then there is one step that you MUST do or nearly go crazy as I did.
Go to Adept in K>System>Adept and enter in you're password when prompted.
Click on “Adept” (top left of the window) and then click on “Manage Repositories.” Make sure each “deb” and “deb-src” line is BLACK not GRAY. If they are gray, you must right-click on each “deb” and “deb-src” line and select “Enable”. Once you have enabled all of them, click “Apply” at the bottom of the window. Then click on “Fetch Updates” at the top of the window. Now it's time to get the programs.

Step 4: Getting ndiswrapper and ndisgtk
You might find a few websites on how to use ndiswrapper and such, and they are good sites and very helpful, but... we have an easier way, ndisgtk! (Hey, that rhymed) In your Adept window search for ndisgtk. The nice thing installing ndisgtk using Adept is... it will automatically install ndiswrapper for you. After the search is complete, click on the little blue arrow beside ndisgtk, and then click “Request Install” and click “Apply” at the top of the window and watch the magic happen.

Step 5: Whew! Almost There: We must make one little change...
Now that you've installed it, go to K>System>Windows Wireless Drivers and right-click. Select “Edit Item.” This will bring up the "KDE Menu Editor". On the right side where it reads “Command:” make sure the line beside it reads “kdesu /usr/bin/ndisgtk” The line might begin with “gksudo” and you must change it to “kdesu”.

Step 6: Install that Sucker (Driver)!
Bring up your “Windows Wireless Drivers” (K>System>Windows Wireless Drivers) Click on “Install New Drivers.” Navigate to your Windows driver folder (that we extracted earlier) and find the .inf file. (it will be something like "bcmwl5.inf") Click on the .inf file and select “Open”. Now click “Install”. If all goes as planned you will see the ______.inf file and “Driver Present, Hardware Present.” (The scope of this tutorial will not cover what to do if you do not see the "Driver Present, Hardware Present" line, sorry.)

Step 7: Possibly Optional
Least not Last... IF you have a Broadcom wifi card, (you will if you have a Compaq R3000 series Lappy like me) you must “blacklist” the default driver that Kubuntu comes with. This is a very simple, but necessary step.
Time for some Command Prompt-age... The easiest way I've found to do this is hit Alt+F2, type in "Konsole", and hit enter. (or K>System>Konsole) Now type “sudo kate /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist”. You will be prompted for your password. When the file come up in the editor, scroll to the bottom and type on an empty line “blacklist bcm43xx” (without the quotes). Save it, and close it out. Restart your computer and you should get some hot wifi action! Woohoo!

A very nice wifi program that comes with your Kubuntu install is “Wireless Assistant.” (K>Internet>Wireless Assistant) You should be able to enter in your wireless settings and get up and running.

Well, that's all for now, please post your comments and critiques. I can always edit this to make it better!

Some K/Ubuntu Helps:
Ubuntu and ndiswrapper
Ubuntu Forums
Kubuntu Forums

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