[Solved] Problems connecting to 3g wirless router

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[Solved] Problems connecting to 3g wirless router

Postby paulm » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:10 am

I've just started a new mobile/mobile broadband contract. Got a new 3g wireless router (Huawei E586, connecting to EE). And I've hit a strange problem....

I normally run Arch, which is pretty much always on the latest versions of everything. When I installed, I installed NetworkManager to handle network connections - seemed the simplest option at the time, though I'm not terribly fond of NM.

When I got the E586, I copied down the SSID name and WPA passphrase, booted the laptop and tried to connect. Over and over again - after much grinding, NM would come back to a prompt for the passphrase. Never did connect.

Thinking the device might be faulty, I thought I'd better try it under something else before I started complaining. So I rebooted to SolydX (Debian testing based), which uses Wicd instead of NM. It became obvious that the problem was not with the device - I very quickly got a connection and was able to get on the net.

Thinking that NM had a problem, I went back to Arch and installed Wicd on it. Disabled NM and tried again. And got exactly the same sort of problem - tried for a long time, then failed. Checking the wicd log, this is what I'm getting:

Code: Select all
2013/06/07 21:46:15 :: Generating psk...
2013/06/07 21:46:15 :: Attempting to authenticate...
2013/06/07 21:46:18 :: wpa_supplicant rescan forced...
2013/06/07 21:46:55 :: wpa_supplicant authentication may have failed.
2013/06/07 21:46:55 :: connect result is failed
2013/06/07 21:46:55 :: exiting connection thread
2013/06/07 21:46:56 :: Sending connection attempt result bad_pass


I thought I might not have the Wicd install properly set up (I still find systemd less than intuitive the configure), so I dug out the older 3g wireless router (T-Mobile Pointer, which is a Huawei E583c). It connects without problems. Argh!

So far, it seems that the problem is not in the network manager, but looks as though it is in the authentication layer (wpa_supplicant). But I have no idea why it affects some versions and not others, and no idea how to troubleshoot it.

I've got a number of different distros installed on my laptop - SalineOS 1.7 and 2.0dev, Salix 14.0, Arch, SolydX and Xubuntu 13.04. Of these, I can connect to the E586 with everything except Arch and Xubuntu (which are probably the most up-to-date distros on the machine). So I'm coming to the conclusion that the E586 doesn't like something in the most recent versions of wpa_supplicant. But I have no clue as to how to find it or fix it.

While I can use the older 3g wirless router for a while, its performance isn't as good as the new one, which also seems to have better battery life as well, so I'd really rather fix the problem and be able to use the E586.

Any clues would be most appreciated. I wondered if I need to produce something special in the way of a wpa_supplicant.conf, but don't know where to start....

Oh, and to add insult to injury, Vista (which I've not run for several months) was also able to connect to the E586 without any problems.

Paul.
Last edited by paulm on Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby nelz » Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:18 am

If Wicd works on SolydX, why not copy it's configuration files (in /etc/wicd) to the Arch install?
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
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Postby paulm » Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:44 pm

nelz wrote:If Wicd works on SolydX, why not copy it's configuration files (in /etc/wicd) to the Arch install?


:) Should have thought of that. Good idea. Thanks.

Unfortunately, makes no difference. Copied the config files, changed the host name to match the Arch hostname, and hit exactly the same problem - it brings the interface up, then fails to authenticate and comes back with a bad password error in the logs.

I suspect it is something broken in later versions of wpa_supplicant. At least that is my assumption given where the failure is occurring.

Next I'm going to try checking if there are any differences in the set up of the older T-Mobile Pointer as opposed to the later Huawei. If that doesn't help I guess I try using the Arch rollback machine to install an older wpa_supplicant and see if that makes any difference.

Any other ideas?

Paul.
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Postby GeordieJedi » Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:48 pm

Using Arch, can you connect to the Huawei E586 via the USB cable and get online that way ?
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Postby paulm » Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:04 pm

GeordieJedi wrote:Using Arch, can you connect to the Huawei E586 via the USB cable and get online that way ?


:shock: That's a very good question. I have no idea - never tried connecting a USB 3g dongle. I will see what I can find. Not ideal, but it would at least get me out of my current difficulties until I can find out why I can't authenticate the wireless connection to the E586.

Thanks.

Paul.
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Postby paulm » Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:35 pm

In case anyone else hits this problem, I've now got the answer...

Turns out it was a kernel regression. When the problem first came up, I was running a 3.9.x series kernel for Arch (which had solved an earlier regression in the 3.8.x series - couldn't get a full wireless n connection with the 3.8.x kernel...). Because of the problem with wireless n, I also updated Xubuntu to a 3.9.x kernel. Both Arch and Xubuntu couldn't connect to the newer MiFi device, all my other distros could.

I'm currently experimenting with SolydX (Debian testing based, built by refugees from the Linux Mint Debian project - very nice...). It provides monthly updates. I hadn't had time to go back to the connection problem until a few days ago. When I did, I found I couldn't connect to the E586 from SolydX. Turns out that the last update pack from SolydX included an upgraded kernel - naturally, to a 3.9.x kernel...

Arch is now on 3.10.x kernels and I can now connect to the newer MiFi device from it without problems...

:) Maybe something a little less cutting edge in the way of kernels would be a good idea - fairly major regressions in the last two kernel series makes me wonder what there is going to be in 3.10.x....

Paul.
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