Since MATE was now available in the Debian repositories I decided to see how well one of my older laptops (an HP 510 with a 1.4 Ghz Celeron CPU and 512MB RAM) would cope.
I booted from CD and used the wired network adapter to do a minimal installation of Debian wheezy and having installed MATE from the ‘wheezy-backports’ repository, I was quite pleased to discover that everything worked surprisingly well.
A seven-year old budget laptop is never going to be fast, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was perfectly usable.
So I decided to see if I could finish the job properly and get the wireless network adapter working but I quickly discovered that there were a number of issues with the ‘gnome-network-manager’ tool, probably because I’d left something essential out, so I decided to keep it simple and just configure the wireless interface in ‘/etc/network/interfaces’ instead – and in any case this will help keep the number of packages installed on the system to a minimum.
Installing the Firmware
The wireless network identifies itself as an Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG adapter, so having determined that this is supported I needed to install the firmware. The required firmware is only available in the ‘non-free’ repositories as it is released under a proprietary licence so before we can install anything we need to update ‘sources.list’ and add the following lines (shown in bold).
# nano /etc/apt/sources.list
deb http://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ wheezy main non-free #deb-src http://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ wheezy main deb http://security.debian.org/ wheezy/updates main non-free #deb-src http://security.debian.org/ wheezy/updates main # wheezy-updates, previously known as 'volatile' deb http://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ wheezy-updates main #deb-src http://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ wheezy-updates main # wheezy-backports deb ftp://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ wheezy-backports main #deb-src ftp://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ wheezy-backports main
Then update the list of available packages – check that this retrieves the list of available non-free packages (shown in italics).
# apt-get update : : : Get:6 http://ftp.uk.debian.org wheezy/non-free i386 Packages [77.5 kB] Hit http://security.debian.org wheezy/updates/main i386 Packages Hit http://ftp.uk.debian.org wheezy/main Translation-en Get:7 http://security.debian.org wheezy/updates/non-free i386 Packages [14 B] : : : Fetched 536 kB in 3s (164 kB/s) Reading package lists... Done #
After a bit of searching about I found that the name of the package containing the firmware that the Intel Pro 2200 wireless adapter needs is ‘firmware-ipw2x00’ (the ‘x’ put me off the scent for a while as searching the packages for one with ‘2200’ in the name came up blank). However, once you know what you need installing it is simple enough.
# apt-get install firmware-ipw2x00 Reading package lists... Done Building dependency tree Reading state information... Done The following NEW packages will be installed: firmware-ipw2x00 0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded. Need to get 524 kB of archives. : : : Setting up firmware-ipw2x00 (0.36+wheezy.1) ... #
You then need to reboot…
Configuring the Wireless Interface
To connect to a wireless network we also need the following packages..
# apt-get install wireless-tools wpasupplicant Reading package lists... Done Building dependency tree Reading state information... Done The following extra packages will be installed: libiw30 libnl-3-200 libnl-genl-3-200 libpcsclite1 libreadline5 Suggested packages: pcscd wpagui libengine-pkcs11-openssl The following NEW packages will be installed: libiw30 libnl-3-200 libnl-genl-3-200 libpcsclite1 libreadline5 wireless-tools wpasupplicant 0 upgraded, 7 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded. Need to get 963 kB of archives. After this operation, 2,168 kB of disk space will be used. Do you want to continue [Y/n]? y : : : : #
To check that the wireless interface is detected.
# iwconfig wlan0 IEEE 802.11bgn ESSID:off/any Mode:Managed Access Point: Not-Associated Tx-Power=0 dBm Retry long limit:7 RTS thr:off Fragment thr:off Encryption key:off Power Management:on lo no wireless extensions. eth0 no wireless extensions. #
If there is not an entry corresponding to your wireless network then your wireless device is not supported, you may find that upgrading to a newer kernel (using ‘apt-get upgrade’), or newer linux release solves this problem.
If the wireless device is listed as ‘eth1’ instead if ‘wlan0’ you can change this by editing the corisponding entry in ‘/etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules’ so that the name is ‘wlan0’ instead of ‘eth1’.
Then you need to configure the wireless interface by editing ‘/etc/network/interfaces’.
# vi /etc/network/interfaces
# The loopback network interface auto lo iface lo inet loopback # The primary network interface allow-hotplug eth0 iface eth0 inet dhcp auto wlan0 iface wlan0 inet dhcp wpa-ssid <insert your-ssid here> wpa-psk <insert your-password here>
You will need to substitute your real network ssid (the name of your wireless network) and your real network password, sometimes referred to as a pre-shaired key or PSK, in place of your-ssid and your-password in ‘/etc/network/interfaces’.
The next time the system boots it should connect to your wireless network…