How to Install the Linksys WPC54GS Wireless G Network Adapter in Ubuntu 5.10 Breezy

Well, that was a long title.

My mother recently changed her 4-year old Dell Inspiron 4100 for a brand new iMac G5, so I took that old laptop (20 GB hard disk, 256 MB RAM) and, after backing up her data, wiped it completely and reinstalled it with the following configuration:

Then I bought a Linksys Wireless-G Notebook Adapter with SpeedBooster, to be able to use my wireless connection at home (in 2002 Dell notebooks did not have wireless LAN adapters by default). Of course, installing it in Windows 2000 was easy, but the difficult part was to have it running in Ubuntu…

Of course I could have taken a look in the web before buying it, but hey, I love living dangerously :)

I am amazed to see that the Ubuntu community keeps trying anything on it, so that I quickly found lots of information about how to make the damn card work. But sometimes that information can be quite misleading.

First of all I found this page in the Ubuntu wiki, that simply says that the WPC54GS is 100% compatible and states “Plug it in, reboot, you’re done”. Sorry to say this guys, but at least in my Ubuntu installation, this did not work.

Then I read somewhere about ndiswrapper, which allows to use native wireless Windows XP drivers directly in any Linux flavor. Yep, the same drivers with those “.inf” files that you use in Windows, you can use them in your Linux installation. Awesome, what can I say.

So this is how I came up with this page about Ubuntu in the ndiswrapper MediaWiki where everything is explained; this page points to another one, where the basic installation procedures are explained in great detail.

This is what I did:

  1. I installed ndiswrapper-utils using the System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager
  2. I inserted the CD that came with the card in the laptop
  3. In a terminal window, typed sudo ndiswrapper -i /cdrom/lsbcmnds.inf (you must be root)
  4. If everything goes OK, if you type ndiswrapper -l you should see the newly installed driver
  5. Then I typed sudo ndiswrapper -m to make this driver load every time the machine boots up (that’s what I understood that the thing did… maybe I’m wrong!)
  6. Then I typed sudo depmod -a; if no errors appear, then everything is OK
  7. Then I typed sudo modprobe ndiswrapper which loads the module in memory, right now.
  8. After that, I opened System -> Administration -> Networking, and found (phew!) that the Wireless network adapter was finally recognized by Ubuntu. I configured it the same way as in Windows (the ESSID of the network, the security type, the credentials), and voilà, my Ubuntu laptop is online!

I had already installed Ubuntu in my G3 iBook (see my previous post) but I must say that I prefer it in this Inspiron laptop rathen than in my iBook. It just feels better, and faster.

Anyway, hope this helps!

Update, 2006-05-01: I have made the card work in Kubuntu as well, check it out! It is slightly more complicated…

Also, thanks to whoever put a link to this page from :)

Update, 2006-06-02: I have made the card work in Ubuntu Dapper 6.06 as well, check it out! The trick is to blacklist the default Broadcom driver… ;)