WMP54G Wireless how-to for Ubuntu 8.10

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This article describes how to set up the Linksys WMP54G Wireless PCI card with Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex

lspci -nn
03:0d.0 Network controller [0280]: Broadcom Corporation BCM4306 802.11b/g Wireless LAN Controller [14e4:4320] (rev 02)
  • Insert the PCI card with the motherboard power OFF.
  • Attach external antenna.
  • Boot Ubuntu 8.10 LiveCD.

When the system desktop comes up and settles down, LEFT-CLICK on the network icon (the two nested computers, on the right part of the upper task bar). It will show the heading Wired Network at the top of the list. Followed by whatever wired interfaces were found during boot, usually eth0.

Then comes the Wireless Networks heading. If this is followed by no itemized entries, that is because the boot process failed to configure the WMP54G PCI card completely. (Or because no wireless signals are currently available.)

Click on >System>Administration>System Log

In kern.log, the proper b43legacy driver is being loaded:

Feb  3 16:14:46 ubuntu kernel: [   83.440289] b43legacy-phy0: Broadcom 4306 WLAN found

But the load process fails:

Feb  3 16:15:01 ubuntu kernel: [  112.220018] firmware: requesting b43legacy/ucode4.fw
Feb  3 16:15:01 ubuntu kernel: [  112.246113] b43legacy-phy0 ERROR: Firmware file "b43legacy/ucode4.fw" not found or load failed.
Feb  3 16:15:01 ubuntu kernel: [  112.246204] b43legacy-phy0 ERROR: You must go to http://linuxwireless.org/en/users/Drivers/b43#devicefirmware and download the correct firmware (version 3).

The necessary ucode4.fw firmware is not included on the Ubuntu LiveCD because of copyright issues.

The only easy way to acquire this firmware is to connect the computer to the Internet with a network wire.
After the wired connection is working, click on
and enter the command:

$ sudo apt-get install b43-fwcutter

With luck, this will instigate a complex automagical process which will fetch the required firmware files and put them into /lib/firmware/b43legacy. (This directory can be stored on a USB flash drive, and copied to this location in the future, to use the LiveCD to set up a wireless connection when no wired Internet access is available.)

However, the wireless driver is still not working, because it does not know that the files it needs are now available.

The loaded b43legacy driver can be seen listed with the command:

$ lsmod

The way to get it working is to remove it and then reload it:

$ sudo modprobe -r b43legacy 
$ sudo modprobe b43legacy

Now LEFT-CLICK on the network icon and see that if there are any Wireless Networks signals within range, they are each listed.
Try any that are open, or that you know the keys for, by clicking on it. This opens an Authentication window. Choose the appropriate Security, such as WEP 40/128-bit Key, and enter the Key. Click on Connect. A Keyring window will pop up, which can be Cancelled. The wireless connection should complete now.

RIGHT-CLICK on the network icon. Click on Connection Information. Click on the appropriate tab, something like "Auto linksys". See the connection details, starting with something like:
Interface: 802.11 WiFi (wlan0)

If necessary, RIGHT-CLICK on the network icon, and click on Edit Connections. Click on the Wireless tab. Click on the name of the wireless connection, then click Edit. Edit the connection parameters as required.

Click on >System>Administration>System Monitor
This will launch a live graph of Network History.

Unplug the network wire so that only the wireless connection will be available.

The network icon will change to a set of five graduated bars.

Launch the Firefox Web Browser.
Open google.com and click on News.
MIDDLE-CLICK on a dozen various news stories as fast as possible.
Watch the graph of Network History. See if good sustained download speed is achieved.

Go to a Firefox download page (alternate versions is best).
Download files.
Watch the graph of Network History. See if good sustained download speed is achieved.

Does your Linksys WMP54G card give good sustained speeds under Ubuntu 8.10?
Does it work better under Puppy Linux 4.1.2? Why?

The above is for the older full-height PCI Linksys WMP54G BCM4306 cards made in Taiwan FCC ID: PKW-WMP54G.
The newer half-high PCI Linksys WMP54G cards made in China (circa 2004?) have the same model number but a different FCC ID: Q87-WMP54GV4, and are completely different internally, RaLink RT2500 802.11g Cardbus/mini-PCI, rt2500pci kernel module, rt2x00.serialmonkey.com.