Wednesday, February 04, 2009

upgrading the wifi on the Aspire One

Last week I ordered a Dell 1390 wifi card for the netbook so I could have wireless connectivity in all 3 OSes (WinXP, Mac OS X and Linux). I thought I'd mention what I did to get it working in the various systems.

This was easy. I simply booted into the OS and it told me I had a new network device. I followed the prompts, selected my access point and I was on the internet. Woopie!!!

Windows XP:
I refered back to a post about my HP dv2810 install from last summer and got the driver software from Dell. The link to the driver is here. I saved it to my SD card as I'd need it for the Linux installation as well. Next I went to the Hardware Device Manager and installed the driver for the unidentified new hardware. I told Windows I'd specify the location of the files and before I knew it I had it working in Windows. Pretty easy so far.

Fedora 10:
My first attempt, following the same instructions as the dv2810 didn't work so well. Here's what I tried:

# wget
# unzip R174291.exe
# cd DRIVER_US/bcmwl5.inf
# ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5.inf
# ndiswrapper -l
bcmwl5 : driver installed
  device (14E4:4311) present (alternate driver: ssb)
# modprobe ndiswrapper
# iwconfig wlan0

But this is where it broke. I got a "No such device" error message instead of it showing me the wifi card as it did on the HP laptop.

Back to the site. I noticed that it shows the bcm4311 rev 1 as being supported, since it was I thought there had to be a better way than the ndiswrapper solution. It turns out there is. I have the rpmfusion repos installed so I was able to simply install the driver.

# yum install broadcom-wl

After a reboot I was good to go.

I noticed the signal strength on the Dell card is quite a lot more than the original atheros card. Not a bad upgrade for $15 including shipping. Checking the power consumption with powertop seems to indicate a slightly lower power draw with the card as well. I'll just have to see how the battery does I guess. Without firing up the soldering iron, I think I've done all the hardware hacking I plan to do to this little netbook.


David OBrien said...

Lets say I have existing WinXP and Fedora 10 partitions.. OS is installed on both and works great...

I purposely left a 16GB partition (hd0,1) empty for the OSx86 installation. When I start the OSx installation do I choose MBR partition when I make that 16GB primary partition the target of the installer using disk utilities?

I always seem to screw that part up and endup with grub being hosed.

What do you use as the boot loader for your Tri-Boot 8.9?

Brian said...

I've done the same thing a few times. Some versions of the Mac OS installer seem to over write the MBR, while others don't. I can't recall which ones do and don't over write the MBR thought.

To fix it is easy enough. Just get a knoppix CD and boot from it.
create a mount point, /linuxhd
mount your linux partition to /linuxhd
cd to /linuxhd
mv dev to dev.orig
mkdir dev
cd /
tar cvf /linuxhd/devs.tar ./dev
cd /linuxhd
tar xvf devs.tar
cd /
chroot /linuxhd
grub-install sda
cd /linuxhd
rm -rf dev
mv dev.orig dev
cd /
umount /linuxhd

All of that was from memory so I might have goofed the syntax of the grub-install but it should put you on the road to repair....