After a long series of well-meaning but misleading tutorials, Google searchs, and finally, just plain-old reading, I’ve been granted success at connecting seemlessly to my WPA wireless network at home with an ease that rivals Windows’ own wireless setup (that may not be as flattering as my wording has lead you to imply…), alhamdulillaah.
A little background – I have a Dell Inspiron 8600 – in my opinion, an outstandind machine in all regards. However, as it came configured, the wireless card that it came with was…to put it bluntly…a piece of junk. This was seemingly by design, as most of users had similar problems – basically, random disconnections. I knew this was not how wireless cards were supposed to work, so after battling it out with customer support, they finally sent me a new wireless card from a newer revision – namely – the Intel 2915 ABG (I think…that’s what Fedora is telling me, anyway…I thought it was the 2200BG). On Windows, the new card worked flawlessly, maa shaa Allaah. I was most-definitely well-pleased.
Under Linux, on the other hand, and Fedora, to be specific, it was a different story. All the “normal” built-in tools for Fedora appeared to have excellent support for WEP encryption, but given that WEP is crackable in minutes, I didn’t really consider it to provide anything near equivalent protection to a wired setup. Of course, the concept of absolute security is a long forgone dream, and anyone thinking they’ve attained it in this world in any regard is deluded, to say the least (they’re a downright liar, to say the most…). Besides, we’d always been running a WPA network at home, and I didn’t want to have to switch between WPA & WEP just because I was booting into a different operating system. So, basically, I started my long, drawn-out expedition to find out how true *nix gurus achieved WPA bliss. I would soon learn that bliss is, indeed, something one must fight for, but in the end, turns out to be something amazingly ridiculous in terms of it’s simplicity, once you found out. I hope that by writing this, I can help another poor soul avoid what I went through and get what they’re looking for without having to go through everything I had to. Heed my story, grasshopper, and perhaps you, too, will be blessed with what it is that I have been granted.
I will spare you all the details of what I did that didn’t work, and I will just jump to what I have done recently that did work, alhamdulillaah. It can be summarized with the following two steps:
- Download the non-free Intel wireless firmware (the latest version as of this writing was 3.0 -use that)
- Ensure that the NetworkManager service is enabled and starts at boot time
Believe it or not, if one searches the web for WPA, wireless, and Fedora – at least when I was doing it – you’ll find nary a reference to both those steps together, but a lot of references to wpa_supplicant and arcane configuration settings. Why, though, would you go through all that, when the folks at Fedora have been working so hard to make the experience as simple as detecting & connecting to the right network?
In fact, believe it or not, but I completely redid the installation of my laptop to ensure there were no other crazy configuration issues, and indeed, for my configuration, this is all that is required. Give it a shot, assuming you have the same or similar hardware, and let me know how it all goes.