Kubuntu Feisty Fawn a mess! Problem 1: The bcm43xx issue


Just got going with the Feisty Fawn Herd 5 test release of Kubuntu and it’s not the state of testing I’m complaining about, it’s more thinks have been probably on Kubuntu already for a longer time but putting a 7. out there before fixing these issues is a mistake because users will think – wow nice new release need to get it – and the Kubuntu team will fail their expectations.

To start with the first point and that has been already a major point for several releases and kills the net and the ubuntu forums all over the place, I call it: “The bcm43xx issue“.

This damn wlan card just doesn’t work right out of the box but still it keeps on giving me trouble. First of all the standard install recognized the card fine and wants to load the bcm43xx module fine but of course the module needs the right  firmware prepared with the bcm43xx-fwcutter. This module is not on the install disk nor easy to get through the Ubuntu or Kubuntu website well how could anyone access the website without a working connection? Of course there might be wire connection but well the user wants the straight to the point solution and nothing more. The new bcm43xx-fwcutter has a new function that downloads a fireware package from the internet but again with no connection no firmware. I think there should be one more simple solution: The system will recognize that the user has a bcm43xx card and opens up a simple dialog asking the user to supply a disk or location of a Windows driver of his WLAN card and the wizard takes the necessary steps to get the files ready for the system. Well I didn’t finish with the bcm43xx module because it seems to be still under “heavy” development because after an apt-get update the softmac version (I think) was put up but I just got it working with ndiswrapper because I know it works and I already did it on several distros and always worked fine instead of the kernel version. Well if the kernel won’t supply a working fine bcm43xx by the release date (uuuppps soon) the installer should offer the ndiswrapper solution so the user can get his WLAN working and please consider my idea with the nice and easy wizard that gives every user the chance to get his device running because they don’t look into the system logs and don’t have a neighbor with the skills to fix this issue. (Wondering if there isn’t a chance to get a “open” firmware for that WLAN device? I’m remembering reading somewhere that the kernel driver was supposed to be a 100% solution and not missing the gap of firmware…)

Well this is just the beginning. I found lot of thinks just now and the release is scheduled for next month but I think right now… call it off and do some more work. Expect more about the Kubuntu Feisty Fawn issues the next days!


11 Responses to “Kubuntu Feisty Fawn a mess! Problem 1: The bcm43xx issue”

  1. 1 oskar

    Oh my god… How can you memorize all those names without the slightest understanding of what they mean.
    This article proves nothing except that you don’t have the slightest understanding of what a driver is. Your “wizard” idea wouldn’t remotely work.

    Consider that the only available drivers are closed source, so they can’t include them for ethical reasons. Again, this is not an issue, you should get your facts straight. It probably has nothing to do with the Operating system, it’s that the hardware manufacturer did neither write a driver for linux nor provide the coders with the necessary infromation to write one.
    Stop blogging, or start learning!

  2. 2 peterpparker

    I don’t think you read the entry carefully.

    My idea:
    (1) System recognizes bcm43xx device is in the computer
    (2) Informs the user during installation that he will have to install the proper driver and that it will be not free
    (3) Offer Yes or No choice to install driver and then ask the user to supply a CD with the driver onboard
    (4) Install wizard will search the CD for the BCM….sys files and run bcm43xx-fwcutter and get the firmware setup
    (5) Setup bcm43xx module as normal but with the module really running because the fw is in place

    So tell me now what is dump about this idea? It really gets the PC running? Actually Ubuntu could also include it in the dialog with the other non-free drivers for ATI and nvidia and offer it there.

    This is me idea, thats why I started blogging and I hope you and Ubuntu can learn from it.

  3. 3 oskar

    1 it should.
    2 Not so good, because it would encourage people to use non open-source drivers. Which would make the whole system harder to debug.
    3 Where is the user supposed to get the cd with the linux driver from? You realize that the windows driver won’t work?
    4 I don’t get it… firmware?

    Feisty already has the restricted driver management, and besides suse there is no distribution that makes it easier to install closed source drivers. So I don’t see why you’re say “call it off”. It doesn’t get any easier at the moment.

    I would rather encourage people to get hardware that is supported by linux.
    You should familiarize yourself with the whole philosophy behind linux. Start off at http://www.fsf.org. It’s really hard to explain in one post why closed source driver use is being discouraged by the community.

  4. 4 Cheeseater

    All this discussion about drivers having to be open source. I would like to just get in installer to make everything work. Do I care where the drivers (or whatever) comes from. Do I care if the sources are not available. Do I care about debugging drivers. Please get real and support systems in a way that manufacturers are not required to release their sources. They do not do this for windows, and it works fine…… So why not for Linux?

    Trying to get SuSe 10.2 working with this Truemobile 1300 card. Windows looks tempting more and more…

  5. 5 Limpalot

    You don’t get it, do you?
    In 3: You need the windows driver! Either you need it for fwcutter to get the firmware from OR you need it for ndiswrapper to load…
    Ndiswrapper is not installed automatically at all and bcm43xx asks you if you want to download the firmware from the net, wich you haven’t been able to reach yet because you are going to use the wlan card to get on the net…..
    So spiderman wants the install routine to ask the user if he has a usable driver available, this way you can actually get online without being online first!!
    And on 4:
    The DRIVER is the bcm43xx module shipping with the newer Kernels, that is open source, but it won’t work without the firmware, wich is NOT open source, so fwcutter pulls the firmware out of the windows driver and uses that.
    That’s why bcm43xx asks you if you want to download the firmware automatically when it detects a broadcom wlan card.

  6. 6 oskar


    If they would write linux drivers, it wouldn’t be a problem. They don’t need to open any of their sources, they just have to pass on the documentation to linux developers, so they are able to code a driver without reverse engineering.

    That’s just really awkward…
    You’re right, I don’t get it.

    Nevermind… What he should have done is this:

    Instead of blessing the web with this blog.

  7. 7 oskar

    I realize this is not the solution to his problem, but this would be the right place to post it – if there is indeed a way to make this work by cutting firmware out of a driver *still confused*.

  8. 8 tomcat

    Manndriva Linux is what you need or Sabayon 3.3 ,Sabayon doesn’t have issues with bcm43xx it just worked out of the box with no fuss,Mandriva just asks for the location of the firmware files and uses your windows driver with ndiswrapper.
    Both are great distros,give yourself a break from faulty fawn.

  9. Greetings,

    I’m guessing you probably resolved this by now – but if you haven’t.
    Check out my post about my Dell Inspirion 710m – I managed to get my wifi using the bcm43xx with a ndiswrapper and dell driver which includes my card.


  10. а все таки: прелестно!

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