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Using Broadcom Wireless in Ubuntu Breezy 5.10

Broadcom wireless chipset

Broadcom manufactures a chipset family called the Broadcom 43xx which is used in a lot of wireless products, including the Apple Airport Extreme, some Linksys products, and many Dell and Acer notebooks. They do not work out of the box on Ubuntu because the manufacturers have not released (open or closed) drivers for Linux; apparently they have not opened source because of security concerns (see this forum posting).

Broadcom生产的系列芯片称为Broadcom 43xx,应用于许多的无线产品中,包括苹果公司的Airport Extreme、一些linksys产品和许多Dell和Acer的笔记本电脑。由于厂商没有发布Linux下的驱动,所以,在Ubuntu系统下,它不能工作;看起来由于安全措施原因,他们也不准备开源(见 this forum posting)。

All is not lost: the very useful Ndiswrapper, which allows you to use vendor-supplied Windows wireless drivers in Linux, does work with these chips. There are occasional bugs (such as ESSID not being set or signal strength displaying incorrectly), but wireless networking can be done.


How To find out if you're using Broadcom 43xx

如何确定你是否使用Broadcom 43xx

In a terminal, type `lspci`, which lists the PCI devices in your system. The output might include something like


0000:02:02.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4306 802.11b/g Wireless LAN Controller (rev 03)

in which case you've got a Broadcom 4306. You can find out a bit more information about the driver by typing `lspci -n`, which in my case includes the line

就说明你有Broadcom 4306这个设备。你可以输入“"lspci -n" 命令可以得到这个设备更多的信息。我这里的结果是

0000:02:02.0 0280: 14e4:4320 (rev 03)


This section's contents are copied from a posting on Ubuntu forums. I suspect these instructions don't work on the Apple Airport Extreme (see WifiDocs/Device/AirportExtreme)

这部分内容引自Ubuntu论坛的一个帖子。我怀疑这些在苹果的Airport Extreme(见 WifiDocs/Device/AirportExtreme)上是不工作的。

Broadcom wireless cards are tricky to set up in ubuntu, and the forums are full of frustrated users seeking advice. Broadcom provide no Linux support (feel free to complain to your hardware vendor or choose a different card if you haven't yet shelled out your cash), but they can be made to work - and you're in the right place if you want to know how.


First, you need to find out if this How To is for you. Broadcom wireless cards come under many brand names and, in particular, are used in many Dell and Acer laptops. Look for the drivers supplied with your card (Dell usually store a copy in `C:/DRIVERS/NETWORK/ADDON`); if you have a file called `bcmwl5.inf` or `bcmwl5a.inf` then keep on reading. You won't succeed without following these instructions!


  • Before you start, clear out any mess from existing failed attempts to use ndiswrapper. Note that you shouldn't use a root terminal to execute the code in this how-to; use a normal terminal session instead.
  • 开始前,清理掉以前使用ndiswrapper的失败尝试。注意,不要使用root用户终端执行本篇指导中的代码;请使用正常的终端。
sudo modprobe -r bcmwl5
sudo rmmod ndiswrapper
sudo apt-get remove ndiswrapper-utils
sudo rm -r /etc/ndiswrapper/
sudo rm -r /etc/modprobe.d/ndiswrapper

Some of these steps may report errors; just ignore them.


  • Copy the `bcmwl5.inf` and `bcmwl5.sys` files to your desktop.



  • Open a terminal session and enter this code. Note that you need an active network connection for this to work; I've assumed that if you have access to a wireless LAN, you also have access to a wired network as a fallback.


sudo apt-get install ndiswrapper-utils
sudo ndiswrapper -i ~/Desktop/bcmwl5.inf
sudo ndiswrapper -m
for conffile in /etc/ndiswrapper/bcmwl5/*.conf; do
sudo cat $conffile | sed -e 's/RadioState|1/RadioState|0/' > $conffile
  • Reboot your PC. On restarting, the light on your wireless card should come on. If not, try entering


sudo modprobe ndiswrapper
  • Your card is now working. Open the networking configuration tool System --> Administration --> Networking.

现在你的无线网卡已经工作了。打开网络配置工具 系统-->系统管理-->网络。

  • Select your wireless network card (probably `wlan0`) and hit the properties button.


  • Tick the This device is configured box, and enter your network name and connection settings. Ask your office network administrator for support if you don't know what this question means, or copy your settings from Windows.


  • BE CAREFUL entering your WEP key, if you're using one. You're expected to enter this in hexadecimal form; if you don't speak hex, prefix your key with s:


  • Click OK. The screen should close fairly quickly; if it hangs, you probably aren't connected properly.


  • Back in the Network Settings screen, select your wireless device as the default gateway device.


  • Click OK. Again, the screen should close fairly quickly.


  • Enjoy wireless nirvana. If everything works, you can delete the `bcmwl` file from your desktop.


  • You might notice that the signal strength applet doesn't work properly. This is a known bug with these cards.


If you have trouble, try booting into Windows - if you dual boot - and checking that the card is enabled. Some laptops allow the wireless card to be switched off, usually with a special key combination, and I've not found a reliable way to make this work in Linux.




I'm not sure if WPA works - I've not tried.



My Linksys PCI card occasionally crashes the computer when someone tries to use my wireless connection (I've set up my desktop to share its wired internet connection).

当有人试图使用我的无线连接的话,我的Linsys PCI卡偶尔会使系统崩溃(我已经共享了我的笔记本电脑的无线网络连接)。

Using Broadcom Wireless in Ubuntu Dapper 6.10

Using the New Broadcom Driver

Airport Extreme cards found on most Apple laptops use this chipset. The Dapper kernel has support inbuilt for the Broadcom device. You should be able to get the card working in Dapper by following the steps below.

绝大多数苹果笔记本电脑上的Airport Extreme卡都使用这个芯片。Dapper的内核已经内建了对Broadcom的支持。你按照接下来的步骤,可以使无线网卡在Dapper下工作。

Extract the Firmware

You don't need to compile the driver as a precompiled module is present. However, we need to extract the firmware for the card. Download fwcutter by checking out the subversion source.


svn checkout svn://svn.berlios.de/bcm43xx/trunk/fwcutter
cd fwcutter

Open up the readme file, and see how you can obtain the driver file. It might be illegal to post the link here. Copy the driver file to the fwcutter directory.


./fwcutter <driver_file>
sudo make installfw

The driver files will be copied to /lib/firmware.


Setting up the Wireless Card

sudo modprobe bcm43xx

The device gets loaded as either eth1/eth2 (some weird kernel bug, i am guessing). Find out which one it is by doing a



This should return the name of the interface as ethX. Check if you can scan for networks using


sudo iwlist ethX scan

The following steps should get you connected on to the network.


# Turning off other network devices"
sudo ifconfig eth0 down
sudo modprobe bcm43xx
# setting wireless device parameters
sudo ifconfig $interface up # This step is very very important!
sudo iwconfig $interface essid your_essid_here
sudo iwconfig $interface mode managed
sudo iwconfig $interface key off # see man iwconfig for wireless encrpytion
"Setting up dhcp"
sudo dhclient $interface

An alternative script is given below.


#!/bin/bash <br>
if [ -z "$2" ]<br>
iwlist  scan | grep ESSID<br>
echo "+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++  "<br>
echo "Usage: getit [interface] [essid]  "<br>
echo "Pick one of the above essid's "<br>
echo "use the interface that had the essids"<br>
echo "+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++  "<br>
exit $E_NOARGS<br>
fi  <br>
echo "Bringing network down"<br>
ifdown eth1 &>3<br>
echo "Bringing network back up"<br>
ifup $1 &>3<br>
echo "Changing to $2"<br>
iwconfig $1 essid $2 &>3<br>
echo "Changing to rate to 11M"<br>
iwconfig $1 rate 11M &>3<br>
echo "acquiring IP"<br>
dhclient $1 <br>

The forum link (applies to Dapper, to be released around 4/2006) where this is discussed is http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=114922

Reader Comments

  • Dapper section needs cleanup, testing, and expansion... towsonu2003 02.08.2006
  • Both scripts should be merged . VenkatRaghavan 02.12.2006