Configuring wireless networking using MATE

I’ve been using MATE as my main desktop for some time so when it came to installing Linux on my new laptop (an HP 6470b that I picked up second-hand) it was the obvious choice.

The only problem was how to manage network connections as I’m not keen on installing all the packages required by the GNOME network manager. After a bit of research I decided to use wicd.

The wireless network adapter in the HP 6470b identifies itself as an Intel Corporation Centrino Advanced-N 6205 adapter, so the first thing I needed to do was install the correct firmware.

Figuring out what package you need to install the firmware for a particular device can take a bit of searching but a good place to start is the list of PCI devices on the Debian Wiki.

From this page I was able to work out that the Intel Corporation Centrino Advanced-N 6205 is one of several that use the firmware in the firmware-iwlwifi package. As with all the packages containing proprietary code this is only available in the non-free repository so before we can install anything we need to update sources.list and add the following entries (shown in red).

# vi /etc/apt/sources.list

deb ftp://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ jessie main non-free
#deb-src ftp://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ jessie main
 
deb http://security.debian.org/ jessie/updates main non-free
#deb-src http://security.debian.org/ jessie/updates main
 
# jessie-updates, previously known as ‘volatile’
deb ftp://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ jessie-updates main non-free
#deb-src ftp://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ jessie-updates main

Then we just need to install the required firmware.

# apt-get update
Get:1 http://security.debian.org jessie/updates InRelease [63.1 kB]
  :
  :
  :
Fetched 12.6 MB in 9s (1,344 kB/s)
Reading package lists... Done
# apt-get install firmware-iwlwifi
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree      
Reading state information... Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  firmware-iwlwifi
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 20 not upgraded.
Need to get 2,138 kB of archives.
After this operation, 13.6 MB of additional disk space will be used.
  :
  :
  :
Unpacking firmware-iwlwifi (0.43) ...
Setting up firmware-iwlwifi (0.43) ...

The easiest way to ensure the firmware is loaded is to simply reboot (particularly if you don’t know the name of the kernel module).

# reboot

Or if you know the module name you can remove it and then re-add it which should cause the newly installed firmware to be loaded.

# modprobe -r iwlwifi;modprobe iwlwifi

Then we just need to install wicd (wireless-tools and wpasupplicant are automatically installed as required packages).

# apt-get install wicd--no-install-recommends
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree      
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
  libglade2-0 libiw30 libnl-3-200 libnl-genl-3-200 libpcsclite1
  python-dbus python-dbus-dev python-glade2 python-wicd wicd-daemon
  wicd-gtk wireless-tools wpasupplicant
Suggested packages:
  pcscd python-dbus-doc python-dbus-dbg python-gtk2-doc pm-utils
  wpagui libengine-pkcs11-openssl
Recommended packages:
  rfkill python-notify
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  libglade2-0 libiw30 libnl-3-200 libnl-genl-3-200 libpcsclite1
  python-dbus python-dbus-dev python-glade2 python-wicd wicd
  wicd-daemon wicd-gtk wireless-tools wpasupplicant
0 upgraded, 14 newly installed, 0 to remove and 20 not upgraded.
Need to get 2,066 kB of archives.
After this operation, 5,812 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] Y

Since you need to be a member of the netdev group to be able to use wicd you will then be prompted to add any users who are not already members of that group to the netdev group.

Package configuration                                                   
                                                                        
                                                                        
        
┌────────────────┤ Configuring wicd-daemon ├────────────────┐  
        │ Users who should be able to run wicd clients need to be   │  
        │ added to the group “netdev”.                              │  
        │                                                           │  
        │ Users to add to the netdev group:                         │  
        │                                                           │  
        │    [ ] user_1                                             │  
        │    [ ] user_2                                             │  
        │    [ ] user_3                                             │  
        │                                                           │  
        │                                                           │  
        │                          <Ok>                             │  
        │                                                           │  
        └───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘  
                                                                        
                                                                        
                                                                      

You don’t have to add everyone (and you can add or remove users later if you change your mind).

Package configuration                                                   
                                                                        
                                                                        
        
┌────────────────┤ Configuring wicd-daemon ├────────────────┐  
        │ Users who should be able to run wicd clients need to be   │  
        │ added to the group “netdev”.                              │  
        │                                                           │  
        │ Users to add to the netdev group:                         │  
        │                                                           │  
        │    [*] user_1                                             │  
        │    [ ] user_2                                             │  
        │    [*] user_3                                             │  
        │                                                           │  
        │                                                           │  
        │                          <Ok>                             │  
        │                                                           │  
        └───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘  
                                                                        
                                                                        
                                                                      

When you select <OK> the installation will continue.

  :
  :
  :
Setting up wicd-daemon (1.7.2.4-4.1) ...
Adding user user_1 to group netdev
Adding user user_3 to group netdev
Setting up python-glade2 (2.24.0-4) ...
Setting up wicd-gtk (1.7.2.4-4.1) ...
Setting up wicd (1.7.2.4-4.1) ...
Processing triggers for libc-bin (2.19-18+deb8u9) ...
Processing triggers for dbus (1.8.22-0+deb8u1) ...
Processing triggers for systemd (215-17+deb8u7) ...
#

Check that everything is working by using the ‘iwconfig’ utility to check that the wireless network adapter has been detected – make a note of the device name (which I have highlighted in red), you may need it in a minute.

#
iwconfig
lo        no wireless extensions.

wlan0     IEEE 802.11abgn  ESSID:off/any  
          Mode:Managed  Access Point: Not-Associated   Tx-Power=15 dBm  
          Retry short limit:7   RTS thr:off   Fragment thr:off
          Encryption key:off
          Power Management:off
          
eth0      no wireless extensions.

#

The next time you login to the desktop you should see a new network icon in the notification area, double-click on this icon to open the application.

If there are no wireless network listed then you may need to configure the preferences to include the name of the wireless interface.

Click on the down arrow at the right hand side of the menu bar and select Preferences.

Enter the name of the wireless interface (the one you made a note of earlier) and click on OK.

That should be it.

When connecting to a secure wireless network you will need to configure the credentials in the connection properties before connecting.

References

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One Response to Configuring wireless networking using MATE

  1. MATE is a wonderful desktop environment; it is fast and responsive.

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