Enable WiFi in Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)

Categories: Linux, Networking, Tips

ubuntu-logo1I recently took the plunge and decided to setup a dual-boot configuration on my laptop.  I’m already running Windows 7, which is excellent by the way, but my geekier side has always dreamed of using a linux distribution regularly.  Ubuntu is one of the friendliest Linux distros out there, and with all of the buzz that the latest version (Karmic Koala) has been getting, I decided to go for it.

After an extremely smooth (Windows 7 smooth) install, my wired ethernet connection worked right from the start; but not so lucky with my wireless connection;  my wireless adapter was not detected during install.  If I’m going to use this regulary, my wifi connection HAS TO WORK!  I have a basic knowledge of Linux, nowhere near professional or expert, but I figured that with Ubuntu being user-friendly there has to be a fairly easy fix, especially since I am using a Dell because Dell is supposed to be Linux-friendly.

Disclaimer: this worked for my specific setup and has not been tested with other systems, but hopefully the process is general enough to help out others.  There are a lot of articles that are more technical, but my goal was to resolve this with making as few changes to the internals of Ubuntu as possible, as well as to avoid making any dumb newbie CLI mistakes that would ruin my install.

My setup:

Dell Latitude D520

Dell WLAN 1390

    1. Download Windows drivers for your WLAN adapter, extract to a directory of your choosing

    2. Install ‘Windows Wireless Drivers’ (Ndiswrapper driver installation tool) using the new ‘Ubuntu Software Center’WindowsWirelessDrivers

    3. Open the tool above (System/Administration/Windows Wireless Drivers) and ‘Install New Driver’ by pointing to the appropriate ‘.inf’ file, which should be located in the directory you extracted your WLAN drivers to from step 1.WWD

    4. Download, install, and activate the appropriate proprietary Linux drivers for your WLAN device (System/Preference/Hardware Drivers). In my case, there were no available drivers listed until I followed steps 1-3 above.  FYI, the download and install process took a while in my case, just be patient.

    5. Connect to your wifi and enjoy!Wifi