Tag Archive for 'Linux'

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Realtek USB Wireless on Linux (Fedora)

When John needed wireless for his computer at home, he bought (probably on my recommendation) a Billion 3011N – a USB wireless N device with the Realtek 8191S(U) chipset. On the box it said that it supported Linux, so I figured it was a pretty safe bet (surely that means there’s a stable driver in the mainline kernel, right?).

Turns out, no. The device has horrible support under Linux and it’s a super pain. The driver disk that came with the box does have a Linux driver, but it doesn’t always compile against the kernel and then there are configuration issues and a custom wpaconfig is required.


So John bought another USB wireless dongle.

Anyway, so now I need a USB wireless dongle for my machine and I asked John to buy one of his spare ones from him (he has four or five). He gave me the afore mentioned Billion device. I plugged it into my Fedora 13 box, but it didn’t know much about it. So then I downloaded the open source driver from Realtek, compiled it and loaded the module. The system hard-locked – even Magic Keys couldn’t save it.

I shelved it for a while, until a bloke called Terry Polzin on the Fedora list today posted a request for help with getting a Realtek 8188S(U) working. I replied saying that I had a similar device and shared my experiences.

I told him that there is a driver in staging which supports the device, but unlike Ubuntu, Fedora only ships quality working drivers by default, so no staging drivers are included. It’s easy enough to get them though, just add the RPMFusion Free repository and install their kmod-staging package which (as the name might give away) includes the staging drivers for the current kernel.

Once you have that installed, the r8192s_usb module can be loaded, but the device still needs external (presumably proprietary) firmware to work. Fortunately, although the driver available from Realtek does not include it, it was included on the disk, and is also available in the Billion driver from their website. So, once you have put the firmware in the right place, the device just works.

Here are the steps to get it working (you will need to have RPMFusion enabled, and run these as root).

yum install kmod-staging unzip
depmod -a
wget http://au.billion.com/downloads/3011N/3011N_Linux_Driver.zip
unzip -j 3011N_Linux_Driver.zip "*rtl8192sfw.bin" -d RTL8192SU
mv RTL8192SU /lib/firmware/

Now, plug in your device and check that the module and firmware have been loaded, using dmesg. You should see something like this:

usb 1-2.3: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 16
usb 1-2.3: New USB device found, idVendor=0bda, idProduct=8172
usb 1-2.3: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
usb 1-2.3: SerialNumber: 00e04c000001
==>ep_num:4, in_ep_num:1, out_ep_num:3
==>RtOutPipes:4 6 13
==>txqueue_to_outpipemap for BK, BE, VI, VO, HCCA, TXCMD, MGNT, HIGH, BEACON:
1 1 0 0 2 2 2 2 2
rtl819xU: --->FirmwareDownload92S()

usb 1-2.3: firmware: requesting RTL8192SU/rtl8192sfw.bin
rtl819xU:signature:8192, version:902b, size:30, imemsize:7408, sram size:9688


rtl819xU:--->FirmwareCheckReady(): LoadStaus(1),
rtl819xU:<---FirmwareCheckReady(): LoadFWStatus(1), rtStatus(0)


rtl819xU:--->FirmwareCheckReady(): LoadStaus(2),

rtl819xU:IMEM Ready after CPU has refilled.

rtl819xU:<--FirmwareEnableCPU(): rtStatus(0x0)

rtl819xU:<---FirmwareCheckReady(): LoadFWStatus(2), rtStatus(0)


rtl819xU:--->FirmwareCheckReady(): LoadStaus(3),
rtl819xU:DMEM code download success, CPUStatus(0x3f)

rtl819xU:Polling Load Firmware ready, CPUStatus(ff)

rtl819xU:FirmwareCheckReady(): Current RCR settings(0x157e20e)

rtl819xU:<---FirmwareCheckReady(): LoadFWStatus(3), rtStatus(0)

rtl819xU:Firmware Download Success!!

ADDRCONF(NETDEV_UP): wlan0: link is not ready
=====>rtl8192SU_link_change 1
<=====rtl8192SU_link_change 2

Now, you should have a wireless device and network interface, which you can check with iwconfig and ifconfig -a.

wlan0 802.11b/g/n Mode:Managed Frequency=2.422 GHz
Access Point: Not-Associated Bit Rate:130 Mb/s
Retry min limit:7 RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off
Power Management:off
Link Quality=0/100 Signal level=0 dBm Noise level=0 dBm
Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0
Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:0 Missed beacon:0

And that's it. The device should now work with NetworkManager, etc.

The main downside here (apart from the obvious) is that you will be relying on RPMFusion to build an updated kmod-staging version when you get a Fedora kernel update. Sometimes this might not happen before you get your kernel, so when you reboot, you lose your wireless (because there's no driver). If so, boot to your older kernel for a while, or build the driver yourself, or create an akmod instead of kmod.

Ubuntu users should be able to just put the firmware in the right place, as their kernel ships with the unstable drivers by default.


Linux newbie friend starts blog

A friend of mine who is still relatively new to Linux has started his own blog, to document some of his experiences and discoveries. He’s primarily a technical writer and tester, but I think that he might have some worthwhile things to say from a technical Linux newbie’s perspective. At the very least, it’s a great way for him to document things he wants to recall in the future!

Good luck Allan :-)


LTSP 5.2 released, with some impressive features

The Linux Terminal Server Project team have released version 5.2 after two years and almost one thousand commits. It has become one pretty powerful product! I like the ability to “run the whole session remotely or run select applications locally to use specific hardware or advance 3D capabilities.”


Set Your Desktop Free, With Nouveau’s 3D

The nouveau project has done it! Finally, an open source 3D driver for NVIDIA video cards has arrived and will ship with Fedora 13. Let’s take a look (including a few benchmarks).

United Kingdom government heading for the cloud?

There are plans afoot to replace the UK government’s computer systems with a “cloud” and free software.

The government will also push for “open source” software to be used more widely among central and local government’s 4m desktop computers. That poses an immediate threat to Microsoft, whose Windows operating system and Office applications suite is at present firmly embedded as the standard on PCs in government..

I doubt that Microsoft would sit idly by and let this happen, though.

The Importance of Fitting In

Is the success of Linux directly proportional to its ability to integrate with existing proprietary systems like Windows? If so, should free software developers be spending more time integrating with it instead of building better software for free platforms?

New Zealand school goes totally open source

Albany Senior High School in Auckland New Zealand is a new school, set up just last year in 2009. Most education institutions are “Microsoft shops” but this school has bucked the trend by going the free software route.

Applications used within the school include OpenOffice, Google Docs, Moodle for managing education content, and Mahara for student portfolios. The Koha software used by the school library was also customised to integrate more closely with the LDAP security system and to allow book recommendations.

Go my Kiwi cousins, go!

Munich adopts Open Document Format

I missed this previously, but Munich has finally switched over to exclusive use of ODF for documents, and PDF for non-editable documents.

The city administration’s standard desktops now consist of the free OpenOffice.org office suite, Mozilla’s Firefox browser, the Thunderbird email client and several other open source applications, such as the GIMP image editor.

New Zealand Government begins trials for move to Linux

Yep, the Kiwis beat us at everything these days and now those sensible chaps in Government begin trials of Linux and free software.

In 2003, the NZ government recommended use of Free software on the desktop for agencies (not just the server side). Now, we’re starting to see it happen. Hurrah!

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Horizons Regional Council and NZ Post will all begin trialling the replacement of their existing Windows desktops with machines running Linux and other open source software in February.

It’s almost enough to want to move overseas and become a Kiwi.

A call for the Government to use Free software

It has just been revealed that the Australian Government spends “over half a billion dollars each year” on proprietary software licenses. That’s somewhere over $500,000,000.

The Greens are heading a call for the Government to use free software and for the first time in my life I find myself agreeing with them.

Greens communication spokesman Scott Ludlam said:

“We know [software] costs are sky high and governments are a huge revenue source for companies like Microsoft, but there are also very strong public policy grounds for using open-source software. And one is to make sure that government information is accessible to the largest number of people as possible at no cost to them.”

It was on the front page of the Canberra Times yesterday.

If the PM wants to save money, here’s a great way to do it. In fact, for the cost of licenses for a single year, the Government could hire 5000 full time highly paid open source developers. By leveraging existing free software it wouldn’t be too hard to build anything and everything that the Government uses for it and the Educational sectors.