Linux-compatible wireless USB adaptor that I can actually buy? (part 3)

Information keeps arriving via the comments to my previous posts (1, 2), but there’s still no one good candidate for a currently-available USB (or even PCI) wireless card that “just works” with Ubuntu – or any Linux distro, I suspect. Linux Emporium have been updating their wireless adaptor page recently, and the current text backs up my suspicions. I hope they won’t mind me reproducing it here:

It seems that all good things come to an end, and we’re sorry to say that it looks like Ralink have stopped production of the RT2500 chipset – just as it has become well-supported by most important distributions, Debian, Ubuntu and openSUSE at least.

We’ve managed to keep things going so far, by searching out cards from various sources, but this has become too unreliable. Frustratingly, we know that Belkin have some of the older cards in stock, but they are unable to distinguish them from the new models, which have the same part number but a different chipset.

We’ve sourced alternatives, and as promised they’re now available. They have a new chipset, again Ralink, and the drivers have been been released by Ralink. Good for them! However, we’re in the situation we were with the RT2500 18 months ago, where the new chipset is not adequately supported in any GNU/Linux distribution. So we’ve done a lot of work and will be supplying a setup CD with each card. This will allow you to get wireless up and running until such time as the distributions support this chipset fully.

I’d love to hear about peoples’ experiences with that Linux Emporium script. It doesn’t sound like an easy thing to do.

7 thoughts on “Linux-compatible wireless USB adaptor that I can actually buy? (part 3)

  1. The Belkin USB wireless dongle Linux Emporium used to sell is still available on

    Mine (that I bought at the Linux Emporium as well) didn’t work with the rt2x00 driver available at the time. I however retried recently (before they changed the page again), and they mentioned the rt73 driver which works very well on my machine now (I’m using it as I type). It’s not NetworkManager good, but it’s good :)


  2. hello. Just to tell you that I have an Edimax USB dongle (seems like some kind of noname brand to me), and it uses a zydas chipset. It does not currently work with ubuntu’s stable releases, however I plugged it into Feisty Fawn, which uses a 2.6.20 kernel if I recall correctly, and it worked out of the box with network-manager. This might be what you are looking for. Very short review, in French, with a screenshot of kern.log:

    As for the problem of “guessing” which card has the right chipset well… SOME ebay vendors include that information (I actually bought an atheros card there and the guy mentionned the chipset, and also added that it was linux compatible); or, depending on your country, you could do the dirty trick of going into a store, buying the device, testing if the chipset matches, and if it doesn’t, get a refund “because it doesn’t work” (which is true).

  3. I’m not using wireless on Ubuntu, but I’ve found Atheros chipsets to be one of the easiest to use on other distros – the drivers are easy to install, require no complex prerequisites or special daemons, and work well with NetworkManager. Having to install third-party drivers is a pain, but as far as I can see, it’s about as close to ‘just works’ as you can get at the moment.

  4. Agreed, Atheros chipsets using the madwifi driver seem to be easiest, if you don’t mind that it has to load a binary blob into the kernel. On Ubuntu, you can enable Universe (I think that’s where it is) and “apt-get install linux-restricted-modules-$KERNELVERSION” to get it going. Maybe that’s not quite “just works,” but that might be the best you can do.

    Right now I’m using a Netgear WG311T (11b/g w/108Mbps, PCI), and it works very well (disclaimer: I’m a Netgear employee). Certain versions of the WG311 (cheaper, 11b/g 54Mbps, PCI) — maybe the v1? — use the Atheros chipset as well, but others (v2?) use a poorly-supported TI chipset.

    I feel like I read somewhere that the latest madwifi drivers don’t support USB wireless chipsets, but you can google around yourself or visit to figure it out. I don’t have my Netgear client adapter list handy to list some Atheros-based USB adapters here (stupid Windows file server isn’t being nice to me today), but you should be able to find that information online somewhere.

  5. Thanks, Brian, that’s a good hint for a PCI card.

    But I notice that the site says “Please also note: there are No USB devices supported by MadWifi. No USB devices are likely to be supported any time soon.”

  6. Hopefully this post rings true in someone’s troubleshooting memory. I have a zd1211 chipet (on a Hawking HWU54G usb wifi dongle). It works, but only up to a certain point. I was hoping someone with more Linux experience could help me figure out where the problem is. I’ve posted the pertinent snippet from dmesg (grep zd). Here’s the issue: I can see all available wireless access points. I can even connect to my university’s open “guest” access point. I can ping the DNS server, and it will respond with no packet loss. If I ping (say), it will resolve the address just fine, but all packets are lost. Essentially, I can’t get “off-site”. But from dmesg I feel that my chipset/driver are all loaded fine. Any ideas??


    Here’s the dmesg:

    [17179597.892000] zd1211 – – r83
    [17179598.144000] zd1211:bulk out: wMaxPacketSize = 40
    [17179598.144000] zd1211:bulk in: wMaxPacketSize = 40
    [17179598.144000] zd1211:interrupt in: wMaxPacketSize = 40
    [17179598.144000] zd1211:interrupt in: int_interval = 1
    [17179598.144000] zd1211:bulk out: wMaxPacketSize = 40
    [17179598.160000] zd1211:USB Download Boot code success
    [17179598.168000] zd1211:MAC address = 00:0e:3b:04:40:2c
    [17179598.172000] zd1211:AddrEntryTable = f7d4
    [17179598.176000] zd1211:RF_Mode = 00000004
    [17179598.176000] zd1211:Pure B-Mode
    [17179598.384000] zd1211:AllowedChannel = 000007ff
    [17179598.388000] zd1211:LinkLEDn = 200
    [17179598.848000] zd1205: (exit) zd1205_config, drivers/usb/net/zd1211/zd1205.c line 2601
    [17179598.848000] zd1205: (exit) zd1205_init, drivers/usb/net/zd1211/zd1205.c line 8570
    [17179598.848000] usbcore: registered new driver zd1211
    [17179598.980000] zd1205: (enter) zd1205_open, drivers/usb/net/zd1211/zd1205.c line 4353
    [17179599.152000] zd1205: (exit) zd1205_open, drivers/usb/net/zd1211/zd1205.c line 4436
    [17179600.316000] zd1211:Pure B-Mode
    [17179600.408000] zd1211:STA_ASSOCIATED with 00:0b:86:a7:3d:50

  7. Pls I have a Senao Wireless USB and I want to Install it on my Ubuntu 7.10. Can anyone offer help pls

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