Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

For discussing Linux compatible (or not) devices

Moderators: ChriThor, LXF moderators

Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby Crummy » Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:36 pm

Hi, I'm new to Linux on PCs, having just installed Ubuntu 16.04 from the cover disc on the "Complete guide" published last summer. Fortunately it all went smoothly, though I was glad of the guidance in the book for partitioning the hard drive and getting round the not-booting-from-DVD-drive problem. I now need to get it connected to the internet but the PC doesn't have a wireless card installed and is too far from my router to use the ethernet connection. Can anyone recommend a compatible wireless card (or USB adapter?) which is easily obtainable and not too expensive please. Preferable it would work with Windows (euch!) also as I have kept the Windows partition in case of emergencies. If it makes any difference, the PC is a 2010 Lenovo ThinkCentre. I guess at a pinch I could use a Powerline Extender with an ethernet connection, but that looks expensive compared with most wi-fi cards.

In addition, I'd appreciate recommendations for a book/books to help me with getting starting using Linux, shell scripts, admin etc. 20 years ago, I worked as a Unix Sys Admin, so I am (or was ?) familiar with the basics of Unix/Linux, but I'm sure quite a lot has changed since then between commercial Unix and open Linux; also I'm hoping to get my son into Linux and Python and he would be starting from scratch.

Thank in advance for any help!

8)
Crummy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:56 pm

Re: Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby Dutch_Master » Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:13 am

Welcome. To start with your last question first, the "Unix and Linux Administrator handbook" by Prentice Hall is a comprehensive introduction to present day *nix like systems. The basics haven't changed in 40+ years, so a polish-up on your skills would see you take off on a flying start. For your son I'd suggest the Raspberry Pi route, it was set up with kids like him in mind!

Now, WiFi cards: are you really sure your machine doesn't have one? It's practically standard, even on 2010 models ;) There's a few ways to check what hardware your machine has and what Linux knows about it. The easiest option is to install the lshw package, including its GUI if not automagically selected, with Synaptic. As Linux, like Unix, loves the cli, there's 2 methods of getting the same info in a terminal:
Code: Select all
sudo lshw
Does exactly the same as the GUI, but in text on the cli. It'll be quite a bit of text and scrolling by awfully fast, so use the various Bash tools to get a grip:
Code: Select all
sudo lshw | less
sudo lshw > lswh.txt && sudo chmod 644 lshw.txt

The former calls the tool, then allows you to scroll through the output on the screen, while the latter redirects the output to a text file, which you then can browse at your leisure.

Both methods generate a lot of data not relevant to the current query. The alternative is the iwconfig command, which normally configures any wireless, as well as wired, network connections:
Code: Select all
sudo iwconfig -a
This will list all network connections, active or not. A wireless card will probably be designated as wlan0 or similar, while wired network cards have eth0 or similar in their output.

Tip: bookmark this website: https://ss64.com/bash/

HTH!
Dutch_Master
LXF regular
 
Posts: 2589
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:49 am

Re: Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby Crummy » Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:45 pm

Hi Dutch-Master, thanks for the advice.

I will get hold of the book you mention and get brushing up my skills. For my son, we do have a Raspberry Pi2, but as I am pretty useless at just playing or tinkering with technology, we haven't yet done anything with it. I had hoped there would be a Raspberry Pi club or similar nearby we could join, but there wasn't last time I looked. At the moment I am trying to get him to learn Scratch, then we can move on to Python and Linux shell programming.

Regarding the wireless card, as you suggested I have tried lshw and iwconfig, but couldn't see anything except (from lshw) " *-network Ethernet Controller". iwconfig replied "no such device". Before I had loaded Ubuntu, i tried to connect to the network using the Windows system but it didn't work then either (just told me the cable was unplugged). I guess the PC is a very basic one, it belonged to my late mother-in-law who just used it for basic admin and it was in her study right next to the router. So it looks like I do need to get a wifi card ...
Crummy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:56 pm

Re: Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby nelz » Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:21 pm

Most wifi chips are well supported nowadays. I would steer clear of anything with a Broadcom chip. It's not that they don't work, they do and I'm using one to send this, but they do require extra work as you need to install drivers (and sometimes firmware too). Anything Intel is always a good choice, their open source support is excellent. I have also used several devices from Edimax and they always worked out of the box.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
User avatar
nelz
Site admin
 
Posts: 9046
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2005 11:52 am
Location: Warrington, UK

Re: Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby nelz » Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:22 pm

As there are so many cards available, you may be better off finding one that looks like it is suitable and then asking us about that specific device before buying.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)
User avatar
nelz
Site admin
 
Posts: 9046
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2005 11:52 am
Location: Warrington, UK

Re: Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby towy71 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:19 am

The TP-LINK TL-WN823N works and can be found on Amazon, I have one plugged into a RPI3 and it works well ;-)
still looking for that door into summer
towy71
Moderator
 
Posts: 4317
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 2:11 pm
Location: wild West Wales

Re: Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby Crummy » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:55 pm

Thanks nelz and towy71. I have had a look in my local Maplin and PC-World, they have the TP-Link TL-WN881ND available currently (didn't see the WN823). One on-line review said they have it working with Linux 'brilliantly" and others also mentioned having it working with Linux. Apparently it has a Qualcom Atheros chip, according to the reviewer, though I couldn't check that in-store. At the moment this seems the best bet. Unless anyone has heard anything negative about it ...
Crummy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:56 pm

Re: Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby Crummy » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:02 pm

Hi again! I'm having problems with this still and would appreciate any help anyone can give me.
I bought the TL-W881ND, as it had positive reviews, but found it didn't fit my PC (my PC must be a slimline one or something). So I took it back and got the WN823N instead. It turns out the Linux driver is not on the supplied DVD, so I had to physically pick up my PC and move it to the room where our router is, and download it from the website. Then when I ran "sudo make" as per instructions to compile the driver, it failed with an error message. As far as I can tell, it doesn't like the fact that the directory and file names have brackets () in them. So now I don't know what to do. I could try renaming the offending items, but I imagine that those names are probably referenced elsewhere in the driver files, so then they would be unable to find the renamed files when needed and cause a different error.

Can anyone help me please? I'm about at the limit of my knowledge on this aspect of Linux, but I really don't want to give up on switching from Windows if I can help it. :(
Crummy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:56 pm

Re: Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby jonni » Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:34 pm

Hi Crummy,

Wireless drivers can be a pain, and in general it's not worth wasting time downloading drivers from manufacturer's websites. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to see source code available and manufacturers supporting Linux, but when it doesn't work or isn't maintained it's just frustrating. You probably know this already. The chip inside your wireless dongle is the Realtek 8192EU, which exists in various forms and revisions and so there isn't a one size fits all driver in the Linux kernel.

In this case the drivers on TP-Link's website use older kernel functions (the website claims it only supports up to kernel 3.10.something whereas 16.04 uses 4.4.something, or 4.8 if HWE stack is enabled) and the errors you see are complaining that in your newer kernel those calls need more arguments. I read a post that someone had managed to hack the driver and get it working by filling all the required arguments with 0s and NULLs, but this seems like a bad idea so I won't cite that here.

What I'd try is to hit up Pilot6's PPA and grab a handily precompiled driver. Hopefully it's just a matter of (with your PC plugged into the router, sorry):

Code: Select all
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hanipouspilot/rtlwifi
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install rtl8192eu-dkms


Best of luck!
User avatar
jonni
LXF regular
 
Posts: 102
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:59 pm

Re: Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby Crummy » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:17 pm

Thanks Jonni, I will give those commands a try. Does it matter what directory I am in when I run the commands? I hope they do the job!

Just for info, what is Pilot6 and PPA? It's a long time since I worked with Unix, so my knowledge of terminology i suspect is somewhat out of date!

Thanks again!
Crummy
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2017 11:56 pm

Re: Suitable Wi-fi card for Ubuntu 16.04 on a Lenovo PC

Postby jonni » Wed Mar 29, 2017 3:06 pm

Hi Crummy,
Does it matter what directory I am in when I run the commands?

Nope.

I hope they do the job!

Me too. My fingers and toes are all crossed.

Pilot6 is the nickname/handle/pseudonym of a kind soul who maintains a PPA full of Realtek wifi drivers. Actually they maintain several PPAs full of lots of different things.

PPA stands for Personal Package Archive and is a sort of diet repository where people can store and distribute custom Ubuntu packages. By using them, you can save yourself a lot of work compiling and recompiling things, but they come with the caveat that you should trust the maintainer.
User avatar
jonni
LXF regular
 
Posts: 102
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:59 pm


Return to Hardware

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests