One of the many lovely gifts that Ariesna and I received for our wedding was a Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G router.1 Since a wireless router is useless without something to connect to it; I went out and picked up a Linksys WPC54GS Wireless-G Notebook Adapter. Since I was still kind of dazed from the whole wedding/honey-night experience; I didn’t stop to check whether the router had SpeedBooster and if I could get the card online for much cheaper than I could in the store.2 I had cash in my pocket and techno-lust burning in my heart. I bought the card, took it home and immediately started mucking about with my laptop to try to get it to work. In a previous fit of whimsey, I had wiped M$ Windows from my laptop and replaced it with SuSE 9.0 Pro. Since APT is such a wonderful thing, I used it to keep SuSE updated; rather I used it to update SuSE on the laptop whenever I booted it up to use it. So the first thing I tried doing in my quest to get wireless networking running on my laptop was to run APT and grab all the latest stuff for SuSE 9.0.
For the first time ever, APT let me down and in doing so it let me down badly. Something in my xserver configuration (or maybe the startup scripts) got hosed. I fiddled with it for a couple of days, but had no luck in correcting the problem. I could work around it, but not fix it. Once I got to that point, I tried to load some missing software I needed to get the wireless card to work, but the software was not listed in the APT repositories I was using. This is especially problematic as the CD-ROM in this laptop tends to be very flakey, so I couldn’t hope to go back to my original CDs and load it from there. In the meantime, I downloaded the latest version of Ubuntu (Hoary 5.04). I did this planning on borrowing the modular CD-ROM drive of a co-worker with the same ancient Dell laptop to replace SuSE on my laptop (if all else failed). Tonight, I was home alone and annoyed that I still didn’t have my wireless network up & running. So I ran over to Best Buy, picked up a spindle of CD-Rs, burned Ubuntu to disc and tried installing it.
Much to my utter amazement and total surprise, my laptop decided that it liked this burned CD and allowed me to install Ubuntu without error. It took several hours to do it, but eventually I was looking at an incredibly ugly Ubuntu desktop. This struck me as odd, but then I realized it was displaying at 800×600 when my laptop’s native resolution is 1024×768. So a bit of googling later and a quick run of:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg and I was looking at the very pretty version of Ubuntu’s desktop. About an hour later, after following these directions in the NdisWrapper wiki, and I have wireless networking running on my laptop. Now I just need to look into a 2nd battery for the laptop so I can have be a bit further away from the wall socket than my power cord lets me go. Still, it’s so very nice not having to sit in my lousy desk chair to do some work on the computer. It’ll be even nicer when I can put the funds together to build a MythTV box for the living room to watch all my anime with. 🙂
Updated 2005-05-27, 19:55 GMT-06:00: I noticed a typo in the dpkg-reconfigure command above, so I’ve edited this post to correct it.
1 Yes, I do realize that considering this a lovely gift puts me completely and forever in the “geek” category,
2 The answers to those questions were: No and Yes.