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Gathering information on the wireless hardware

Saturday, December 29, 2007 | 0 comments

With iwconfig one can configure the parameters of the wireless interfaces, but also see those parameters, and the wireless statistics. When I entered this command at the command line of Ubuntu 7.10 running on my Acer Aspire 4320 I got:

john@throy:~$ iwconfig
lo        no wireless extensions.

eth0      no wireless extensions.

A clear sign that something was wrong.

In order to fix this problem, one has to know what kind of hardware is used to provide the notebook with a wireless interface. With lspci one can obtain information about all PCI buses in the computer, and devices connected to them. Since this often is a lot of information, I used grep to reduce this information (I already knew that the wireless hardware was made by Atheros):

john@throy:~$ lspci -nn | grep -i atheros
04:00.0 Ethernet controller [0200]: Atheros Communications, Inc. AR5006EG
802.11 b/g Wireless PCI Express Adapter [168c:001c] (rev 01)

Note that the -i option for grep makes the search case insensitive, and hence the line containing Atheros is found, despite I searched for "atheros". This line contains two bits of important information: 'AR5006EG', and '168c:001c'

More clues: sticker at the underside of the Acer notebook shows Atheros AR5BXB63.
More clues: sticker at the underside of the Acer notebook shows Atheros AR5BXB63.

With this information I was able to find the Windows driver via the list of cards supported by NDISwrapper. Since the card was made by Atheros, I went to the List A page. On that page I searched - using Ctrl+F in Firefox - for 'AR5006EG' and got the following result:

Before I downloaded the driver, I first made a directory ndis in my home directory to keep things together:

john@throy:~$ mkdir ndis
john@throy:~$ cd ndis

I used wget to download the zip file containing the driver:

wget ftp://ftp.work.acer-euro.com/notebook/aspire_4710/driver/Wireless_Atheros.zip

If you're going to use the same driver, here are the file size and the md5sum of the zip file I dowloaded:

john@throy:~/ndis$ ls -l *.zip
-rw-r--r-- 1 john john 2787341 2007-12-29 18:40 Wireless_Atheros.zip
john@throy:~/ndis$ md5sum Wireless_Atheros.zip 
21074ba9a494130c0a81411356802086  Wireless_Atheros.zip

I unzipped the Wireless_Atheros.zip file. This created a directory Atheros, which contains another zip file, HR2H01WW.zip, which I also unzipped because this is the file that contains the required files: net5211.inf and ar5211.sys.

john@throy:~/ndis$ unzip Wireless_Atheros.zip 
Archive:  Wireless_Atheros.zip
   creating: Atheros/
  inflating: Atheros/HR2H01WW.zip    

john@throy:~/ndis$ cd Atheros/
john@throy:~/ndis/Atheros$ unzip HR2H01WW.zip 
Archive:  HR2H01WW.zip
  inflating: data1.cab               
  inflating: data1.hdr               
  inflating: data2.cab               
  inflating: ISSetup.dll             
  inflating: layout.bin              
  inflating: net5211.cat             
  inflating: net5211.inf             
  inflating: Notes.txt               
  inflating: setup.exe               
  inflating: setup.ini               
  inflating: setup.inx               
  inflating: setup.iss               
  inflating: SilentInstall.bat       
  inflating: _Setup.dll              
  inflating: ar5211.sys              
john@throy:~/ndis/Atheros$

Next, I removed the old version of madwifi.

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