Wireless-less

Ubuntu Version 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) has been ticking over normally for the past few months, receiving the available updates, and exhibiting no extant problems. During this hiatus of trouble-free operation I took the opportunity to look at a number of subsequent releases of the software, namely Version 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) and the current release, Version 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot).

While this was largely due to my curiosity with all things new in Ubuntu, it was also precipitated by my acquisition of a netbook computer. The Acer Aspire One 522 has a 10.1-inch screen with a native resolution of 1280×720. Even with the relatively high screen resolution for such a small unit, I thought that the display might benefit from the supposedly netbook-friendly Unity desktop that is a feature of recent versions of Ubuntu. I was also curious to see if any of the previously-identified shortcomings with Unity (Dis-Unity?; May 17, 2011; https://linuxnorth.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/dis-unity/) had been resolved.

Natty installed with no difficulties, but then things went south in a hurry. The system showed my wireless router connection as being available but, as soon as I tried to connect, the whole machine hung up. No mouse movement, no keyboard control, nothing. In fact, the only means to bring the netbook back to life was to hold the power key down and force a cold reboot.

A little experimentation confirmed that wireless access was a problem. The netbook saw the Internet just fine when using a wired connection, but a system crash was guaranteed as soon as any attempt was made to access the wireless network.

Realizing that this was beyond my level of expertise, I resorted to my usual Google search for assistance. This identified lots of other users with similar hang-ups, and an indication that the problem was related to the specific hardware in the Aspire 522, namely a Broadcom 802.11n Network Adapter (wireless), and an Atheros AR8152/8158 PCI-E Fast Ethernet Controller (NDIS 6.20) providing the wired connectivity.

Even more interesting was one of the potential solutions offered.

The user “letmeknow” on Ubuntu Forums indicated that “You can… boot Win7 before and do a reboot to Linux…” While this solution (amazingly) does work, it clearly isn’t a desired method of solving a Linux problem! So, on to letmeknow’s second method..

The second solution involves a two-step process:

(1)  Edit the file /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf (using sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf) and add the line:

blacklist atl1c

(2)  Open Terminal and issue the command:

sudo update-initramfs -u

Related messaging on the forum suggests that the atl1c driver supports the Atheros L1C gigabit ethernet adapter. Blacklisting the driver disables the Ethernet controller and hence access to any wired connections. This is the case and, while the wireless connection can now be established, the wired Internet connection is unavailable.

This is of course a reversible process. If the blacklisted driver is restored (by removing or commenting out the blacklist command), and the machine is rebooted, the reverse connectivity will be in place. The wired connection will now once again be active, but accessing the wireless network will cause a system crash.

The recent release of Ubuntu Version 11.10 has done nothing to change the problem with wireless connectivity for the Aspire 522. The new operating system still crashes when access the wireless network, unless the above-noted Ethernet driver is blacklisted.

Fortunately, the wireless connection is my method of choice in normal usage, and the wired connection isn’t needed. So, thanks “letmeknow”, I am once again connected and, this time – on a higher plane – of knowledge!

References:

Acer Aspire One 522 – Smiles and Frowns
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1680348

Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal)
http://releases.ubuntu.com/natty/

Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)
http://www.ubuntu.com/

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3 Responses to Wireless-less

  1. Chris Taylor says:

    Wow! Hope they fix this problem. Seems like a situation that is not all that unusual. I would hate to have to jump through hoops just to switch back and forth beween wired and wireless connections.

    Chris

  2. Antonio says:

    Thanks a lot. I have an Aspire One 722 and experience the same problem, and always had to boot into Windows before.

  3. Pingback: Ubuntu:Acer Aspire One sometimes freezes on startup [closed] – Ubuntu Linux Questions

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