[ltp] My Wireless Experiences with a T41
Wed, 12 Nov 2003 20:57:15 -0500
I thought some of you would be interested in my experiences getting wireless
networking going on my T41. The machine originally came with a Centrino
wireless card which I swapped out for a Cisco Aironet MPI350 knowing that the
Intel card had absolutely no driver support in Linux (two days after I
received my machine, Linuxant announced their driverloader product, but I'll
get to that later).
My card came with firmware version 5.02.17, so the first thing I did was to
downgrade it to version 5.00.03, which is the version that came with the
Linux driver available from Cisco. I will shamefully admit that I used the
Windows version of the Cisco ACU to do this because I didn't want to spend a
lot of time with it. After downgrading the firmware, I followed Fabrice
Bellet's instructions for building the airo_mpi driver found here:
He reports in his Linux on a T40 document that this driver only works with the
5b00.08, but I thought I would give it a shot anyway.
The module built without issue and modprobed without complaining, but i could
not get it to associate with the AP. It would also frequently cause a kernel
panic when I tried to activate the interface.
Not willing to give up, I tried to build the Cisco driver, which is shipped
with the 5.00.03 firmware, so I was hoping I could at least use that. I had
all kinds of difficulty because even though I was trying to build mpi350, the
installer wanted to update pcmcia-cs. I gave up rather quickly because I
decided to try the Linuxant driverloader solution to see if it worked.
I rebooted into Windows and installed the latest driver and firmware available
from the Cisco website. I then rebooted to Linux and went through the
Linuxant installer. It was a very simple process. It involves installing a
package (comes in rpm, deb or tgz) and using a web interface to install the
I used the generic rpm because I am running the most recent mandrake kernel
which Linuxant has not built a package for yet. The rpm built it's own
kernel module and finished in less than a minute. I used the web interface
to upload the same driver I had just installed in Windows, and it all went
very quickly and in about 5 minutes I was up and running.
I now have a working wireless connection on my home network. The only problem
I am still having is that I am having trouble using the AP at my office,
where they have 128-bit WEP turned on. I suspect at this point my
difficulties have more to do with my lack of familiarity with the
wireless-tools package than with a problem in the driver. I have left any
authentication off for the time being on my home network so I can make sure
the connection works before adding variables that have the potential to cause
problems. The wireless connection at work is really not a problem, because I
really wanted the wireless solution for home anyway.
If anyone has any experience with using the wireless-tools with the Linuxant
driverloader, I would be interested in hearing from you.
The Linuxant driverloader comes with a restrictive 30-day trial license. A
permanent license is $19.95. I will probably buy it and stay with this
solution until the airo_mpi driver matures and works with later firmware. I
really don't want to downgrade this firmware because this version solves the
problem I was having in Windows of the wireless connection dropping after 5
Also, if I knew I was going to end up here, I probably would have skipped the
Cisco card and stuck with the Intel Centrino card and used the driverloader
straight away saving , although now I have the equipment to test the future
revisions of the open source driver, so perhaps I can help that solution get
If you made it this far, thanks for reading this. Hopefully this helps
anybody considering a built in WiFi solution on their Thinkpad.
"Outside of a dog, a man's best friend is a book, inside
a dog it's too dark to read" -Groucho Marx