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Glyndwr714
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 5:37 am    Post subject: WiFi Dongles Reply with quote

Hello all!
After installing Gentoo GNU/Linux on my laptop, I had been convinced that the distro's fantastic :D . With that knowledge, I've decided that I'd like to also have it on my Desktop computer.
My real dilemma here, however, is that I've not got any ethernet cable. I've always relied on a wireless dongle that, sadly, isn't very friendly with Linux. :( (Thanks Broadcom!)

So, I'm wondering... are there any dongles that'd simply work out of the box, with the minimal install iso? I'd like to go shopping for one, but my only knowledge on the matter is limited to "Atheros usually works well"...
...trying to shop for a specific driver or chipset has proven really difficult for me. :(
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The Doctor
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually that is about right. Also intel usually will work.

If you care to dig through the kernel you can probably find an appropriate driver for the Broadcom. I ended up digging into the experimental drivers and mine is currently working well enough that you are reading this.

Further, I would advise you to forget about the minimal ISO if wireless is to be involved. Go straight to the system rescue cd since it is Gentoo based (therefore does not alter any steps in the handbook) and it does support wireless very well.
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glyndwr714,

Don't spend any money until you have tested with System Rescue CD.
If your dongle works there ... well, its Gentoo :)

Tell us the vendor and device IDs of your dongle, from lsusb.
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khayyam
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 10:58 am    Post subject: Re: WiFi Dongles Reply with quote

Glyndwr714 wrote:
My real dilemma here, however, is that I've not got any ethernet cable. I've always relied on a wireless dongle that, sadly, isn't very friendly with Linux. :( (Thanks Broadcom!)

Glyndwr714 ... there are a number of options that may be open to you. Your broadcom card may be pci-e and so could be swapped out with another pci-e card (check your motherboard). If not then a PCI card (such as the WMP300N) could be purchased, these will offer BNC connectors for antenna, and will generally perform better than a USB dongle (also due to the fact that you can get higher dB antenna, and/or re-locate them with cable from the BNC, and/or improve the signal with a directional booster such as a windsurfer or cantena). You could also buy a cheap (802.11g or 802.11n) access point, put OpenWRT/LEDE on it, bridge to the AP, and use the standard (4x, 8x) ethernet on the OpenWRT bridge. If you're thrifty and do a bit of research prior you can pick up such things at next to nothing (if not nothing given how many decent wireless routers I've found in the street and in thrift/charity stores).

Glyndwr714 wrote:
So, I'm wondering... are there any dongles that'd simply work out of the box, with the minimal install iso? I'd like to go shopping for one, but my only knowledge on the matter is limited to "Atheros usually works well"...

Atheros would like you to think that, but its a belief based only on the excellent work that was done on ath5k ... ath9k and ath10k are not so great (and the FOSS ath5k developers quit having found Atheros impossible to work with, hence ath9k/ath10k being described by them as a total disaster, particularly ath10k).

As the Doctor stated, you should use sysresccd for better wireless support. As for dongles, the problem is that often its not clear what chipset they have until you've purchased one, and even then the chipset may change on the next purchase. Some chipsets are sold under a variety of names, and non-branded varieties may not work properly with firmware shipped by the manufacture for that chipset. There are also 802.11n chipsets which were sold prior to the establishment of the standard, and these may have operational issue with other 802.11n hardware (such as AP's). Also, "mirco" USB wireless dongles should be avoided. Anyhow, dependent on where you're located, the current Sitecom dongles are Ralink, use the rt2800usb (firmware required), and work reasonably well. I think these are sold in the US as Dlink. I have a couple of generic dongles that are also Ralink, and carl9170, but I generally don't use them so I can't attest to how well they function (actually, the carl9170 spams dmesg due to it being a pre-standard 802.11n).

Glyndwr714 wrote:
...trying to shop for a specific driver or chipset has proven really difficult for me. :(

If you have the brand and/or chipset you can search wikidev ... that is currently the best place to look for such info.

HTH & best ... khay
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Glyndwr714
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon wrote:
Tell us the vendor and device IDs of your dongle, from lsusb.

Bus 002 Device 004: ID 0846:9011 NetGear, Inc. WNDA3100v2 802.11abgn [Broadcom BCM4323]

khayyam wrote:
the current Sitecom dongles are Ralink, use the rt2800usb (firmware required), and work reasonably well. I think these are sold in the US as Dlink. I have a couple of generic dongles that are also Ralink, and carl9170

Are there any that might not require installing firmware? Kind of unworkable for me, I don't have a spare USB.



If it doesn't require proprietary firmware and is integrated into the kernel, would it mean I wouldn't have to install proprietary firmware?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_open-source_wireless_drivers

Thanks for the info, guys.
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glyndwr714,

Ewww. Google says that you need ndiswrapper and the windows driver.
This Wiki page supports that.
Your dongle is listed under Unsupported Chips :(

net-wireless/ndiswrapper is in the Gentoo repo.
In theory, you emerge it and unpick the 32 bit Windows driver. As it provides a kernel module, it only works with some kernels.
You may have to wait for it to catch up with new kernels.

Most USB WiFi dongles require firmware.
You can get the firmware from say, System Rescue CD. It will be in /lib/firmware.

Its unlikely that System Rescue CD provides ndiswrapper. For it to be useful, it would need to include Windows drivers.
Somehow, I don't think Microsoft would like that.

As khayyam says, there are PCI wifi cards. They won't all be firmware free either.
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Glyndwr714
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon wrote:
In theory, you emerge it and unpick the 32 bit Windows driver. As it provides a kernel module, it only works with some kernels.
You may have to wait for it to catch up with new kernels.

Thanks, Neddy! Sadly, I don't believe I'd be able to emerge it. Without an ethernet cable, I would be left with a dysfunctional dongle :lol: and no internet connection. I don't have a spare USB to transfer the files to simply make the package, either. Bit of a tight spot!

So that's why I'm kind of looking for any tips to go shopping with. Again, just to restate my problem here, I don't have any potential connection, and consequently no means of installing Gentoo or firmware required for certain dongles that may work with the Linux kernel but might, for example, require cloning a git repo to install the drivers. - I also don't believe I have space for a card in my desktop.

A few people over on reddit told me that I should hunt for dongles marketed specifically for the raspberry pi. What do you make of that?
I'm just looking for items that'd get me connected right out of the box, without having to install any drivers - because I don't have a connection or a free usb device.
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glyndwr714,

Do you have another working OS on your desktop, even Windows will do?
The idea is to fetch the files you need with another operating system and put them where Gentoo will find them.
Its called Sneakernet. Even 12 years later, it still works.

Raspberry pi dongles are usually tiny USB devices. All the ones I have need firmware and because they are so small, the coverage is poor too.

What boot media will you use to install Gentoo?
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Computer users fall into two groups:-
those that do backups
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Glyndwr714
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NeddySeagoon wrote:
Glyndwr714,
Do you have another working OS on your desktop, even Windows will do?
What boot media will you use to install Gentoo?


I have only Windows at the moment. The boot media I'd use to install Gentoo with would be a USB with an iso
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2018 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glyndwr714,

If you use SystemRescueCD, you get a bunch of files on the USB stick. It does not install as an ISO, so you can use the space for transferring files that you fetch elsewhere.

Elsewhere can be your Windows install. You can shrink Windows and install Gentoo in the space you create. Then you have a dual boot system.
When you get tired of Windows, you can delete it and add the space to your Gentoo.

-- edit --

To practice, to make sure you have all the bits, you could put System Rescue CD on a USB stick and install and boot a minimal Gentoo beside it.
You would need to use Windows to fetch files but once Gentoo booted and connected to the internet, you would know you had all the bits.

Another way ... Intel/AMD CPUs only

Install Virtualbox in Windows,
Install Gentoo as a guest in Virtualbox. You can pass your wifi dongle to the gentoo guest and make if work there.
Virtualbox will boot System Rescue CD from a file in Windows.
This way you can do a whole Gentoo install. No USB stick is required.
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