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Installing the Cisco MiniPCI 350 driver for the IBM Thinkpad
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2003 5:37 am    Post subject: Installing the Cisco MiniPCI 350 driver for the IBM Thinkpad Reply with quote

Installing the Cisco MiniPCI 350 driver for the IBM Thinkpad

I want to let everyone know now that I have the IBM ThinkPadR-32 (2658-J3U);

There are two ways of installing the driver.

Option 1: Emerge mpi350-driver which happens to be Cisco's proprietary diver. You have may have to download this version wireless tools from portage will NOT work at all because the driver has extremely limited functionality.

While this is the simplest method; It's also the least functional method. For the driver to work properly, your firmware version MUST be version 5.00.03. Anything newer will NOT work (you have been warned)! Please, trust me on this... I spent two weeks figuring out why it wouldn't work with the latest firmware available.

Once, you have mpi-driver installed, you do have to fire up X to load the ACU utility to change your settings and to get the darn card to work every time you want to use it; unfortunately, their programs are GUI only, except bcard which I never got to work properly. It sucks, but it's the only way. Personally, I don't like Cisco's proprietary driver and you can NOT use WEP because Cisco's driver does not support it. There's not much you can do with Cisco's driver. At this juncture, I will end option 1 with; use this only if you don't want to use WEP or any other feature for that matter.

Option 2: Download the latest (recommended) driver that Fabrice Bellet have been (and still is) working on.
You can get it from this site:

Extract the file as usual (I should NOT have to tell you how) I recommend /usr/src. Within the archive, there are really easy instructions to follow; I would recommend building the driver seperately because if you're like me who likes to keep the kernel up to date, you can write and alias or a script to make sure to rebuild the Cisco driver for you. With this driver, you can use the wireless tools available from portage or you can use Cisco's ACU util; however, I will warn you now and tell you NOT to try flashing the card with Fabrice's driver (he says so himself on his page).

Getting the wireless card to work on startup.

I modified the following files:
  • /etc/conf.d/net
  • /etc/init.d/net.eth1

You have to copy /etc/init.d/net.eth0 to /etc/init.d/net.eth1, then run net.eth1
You also need to run
rc-update add net.eth1 default

In the file /etc/conf.d/net, fill in any necessary parameters for eth1. There's plenty of help in the forums if you don't know how.

In the file /etc/init.d/net.eth1 You're adding a couple of lines to the iface_start section; it should look similar to this :

iface_start() {
        local retval=0
        # Make sure module is loaded first
        /sbin/modprobe airo_mpi <-- add this line
        # Let's give the wireless card a nickname
        /usr/sbin/iwconfig eth1 nickname "make a name up here" <-- add this line
        # We'll set the ESSID to any because the machine is never in one place.
        /usr/sbin/iwconfig eth1 essid any ** <-- add this line and see note below under "**"

        setup_env ${1}

** The reason why I use "any" is because this laptop goes with me everywhere; normally, I would put in my ssid instead of "any"

The code modifcation allows the card to come up during boot time.


There is one. The built-in wired card has precedence over the Cisco card; you may have to disable the wired card (remove the net.eth0 startup script if you don't intend to use the wired card in linux) to use the wireless card. I use both cards (because the laptop goes with me), so disabling the card is not feasible for me.

That pretty much sums up what needs to be done feel free to post any comments.
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