Installed Wireless Networking Card

Last weekend I bought a new Linksys Wireless-G network card for my laptop from FutureShop. After sliding the card in and booting up the laptop, the card was detected but unfortunately when I tried selecting the appropriate driver for *all* Linksys PCMCIA network cards (Tulip) it would not accept it. Google to the rescue! I searched for “wpc54g linux” and after some reading found out that the newer Linksys cards use a Broadcom chipset and apparently Broadcom refuses to support Linux.

Further reading in forums uncovered several other people who were having the same problem and someone who had found a solution: the NdisWrapper project. NdisWrapper is a Linux kernel module that lets you load drivers built for Windows XP. Apparently there are quite a few vendors peddling networking products without Linux support. Following the directions I was able to install the NdisWrapper without much effort. The only thing I had to do that was not described in the instructions was install the “pciutils” package because NdisWrapper complained that the command “lspci” did not exist.

Once the “pciutils” package was installed the card worked great. However, I was surprised at the lack of graphical Wireless tools built into KDE/Mandrake. From what I have found so far all the wireless tools are command-line based. To do simple things like scan for wireless access points, check signal strength, and change the wireless access point to which you are connected, the command-line must be used. This is fine for myself but I highly doubt Joe User will have much success using these command-line tools.