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edmann13's avatar

How do I install wireless drivers on lubuntu?

Asked by edmann13 (296points) April 15th, 2013

I have an HP2133 I bought second hand off a coworker. It came with a certain version of linux (SUSE I believe) but he installed windows 7 starter on it and it was running slower than molasses. I tried fuduntu but it was still running sluggish and the screen kept bugging out and not displaying properly, so now I’m trying lubuntu, but it says I need a wireless connection for best install. I found the drivers for the machine, but I have them in an .exe, and the machine is asking for a .inf, it has an “install windows drivers” tool. How shall I proceed?

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20 Answers

jerv's avatar

First off, your best bet is to have the computer hooked up via Ethernet during the install process. That allows it to grab whatever drivers it needs from the internet auto-magically in most cases; Linux has surprisingly good Plug-and-play so long as it has an internet connection, and you can nearly always connect via Ethernet.

Failing that, make sure there are no Linux drivers already there. Going into a terminal and typing lspci will give you a list of everything on the PCI bus, along with chipset IDs. The chipset IDs are what Plug-and-play systems use to determine the correct driver.

To find out what drivers are loaded, type lsmod .If there is a driver already loaded, lsmod will reveal it. If not, it will reveal that too. If there isn’t already a driver loaded, or it is the incorrect driver.

Messing with ndiswrapper (the “normal” way of putting a Windows driver into a Linux system) is a bit arcane and non-intuitive at times; best not to if it can be avoided.

edmann13's avatar

I have it connected to ethernet. I booted the OS through my usb drive, but now every time I go to install the OS on the hard drive it freezes up. I’m at a loss of what to do, I just want to get this thing working.

jerv's avatar

I have to ask; did you do a complete drive wipe when you installed, or did you attempt a dual-boot configuration? I am almost wondering if there isn’t an issue with the hard drive like a bad boot block due to botched installs. A bad bootloader (either LILO or GRUB, most likely) config can mess up the MBR in “interesting” ways that will freeze the computer whenever you try to boot from it.

I would almost wager that the bootloader is your issue. Re-install/repair the bootloader.

Also note that the HP2133 is a netbook, and not a particularly great one. Netbooks are inherently slow and struggle with bloatware anyways, and the VIA C7 has less power of the old Atom n270 that powered the first Acer Aspire One netbooks, or about as much as a mid-range Pentium 4 from 10 years ago. That means that it will be sluggish with a full-blown modern OS, and really needs something lightweight.

edmann13's avatar

I’ve looked into lightweight OSes, and it appears lubuntu is my best bet unless you can suggest something better. I’m using unetbootin to put lubuntu on my USB drive, the OS boots from the usb drive fine, it just doesn’t install itself to the hard drive. It worked fine with fuduntu (ignoring the graphical/speed issues) and the OS booted from the usb drive runs smooth. I like it very much. I just want it to be permanent.

edmann13's avatar

The system mentioned something about GRUB. I’m not even sure how to re-install or repair the bootloader. sorry to be a pain, I’m very new to this.

jerv's avatar

I would try grabbing another USB stick putting PartedMagic on it, and use that to fix your MBR and bootloader.

edmann13's avatar

I don’t own a second usb drive, do I need them both in at the same time? I’m thinking I’ll just use parted magic to format the hard drive, and then try lubuntu again, might that work?

jerv's avatar

Not at the same time, but it’s easier to have multiple USB drives just to save the hassles of recreating the USB key. Nowadays, they are dirt cheap; it isn’t hard to find one big enough for a CD image for under $5. I have a fistful of them, ranging from 512MB to 8GB, and not spent more than $15 on any of them.

edmann13's avatar

parted magic won’t start up, the screen cycles red, green, blue, grey, black, white, gradient…. until I turn it off. I am at my wit’s end, I’m so frustrated I’ve been unable to use this machine for weeks now. What do I do?

edmann13's avatar

I tried killing noveau and booting to shell, no luck.

jerv's avatar

While the screen is wigging out, did you switch to a different console?

X is trying and failing to start, which is why it’s doing that, but you should be able to Alt-F(1–6) your way to another console and go from there.

edmann13's avatar

not sure when I should be pressing this. How it changes anything

edmann13's avatar

all I want is access to my arduino IDE, and maybe a browser with youtube, I will try any other OS in existence that can bring me these things.

jerv's avatar

Linux, like UNIX, has multiple “terminal” sessions going on. The Alt-F1 through Alt-F6 change between them. X, the GUI that you are used to seeing only runs on one of them; the others are shells. When you see the “angry disco strobe” with the flashing and colors, that means that X cannot initialize the video driver, but that only really affects that terminal.

To put terminal switching another way, the canned soup you are looking for is in aisle 6 but you are in aisle 3 wondering where the soup is.

It’s obvious that Linux runs on that machine, but there are many diistros, and you chose a rather obscure one that may not like HP netbooks. That is why I prefer to stick with the major ones you see in the Top 10 list at Distrowatch ; they arepopular for a reason, and that reason is that they work and work well. Then again, Fuduntu works well when installed properly….

But if you want to experiment, Mint is a good choice. They don’t do all the crazy stuff Ubuntu does.

OpenSUSE is a resource hog that will slow your machine to a crawl.

PCLinuxOS is a storng contender.

Mageia intrigues me, but I haven’t tried it. It’s a fork from Mandriva though,and I have had good luck with Mandriva.

Thing is, any distro can be improperly installed. Video drivers and bad GRUB configs are the prime problems. Somehow, people seem to have the most issues with thise two things despite how automated the installers are.

edmann13's avatar

Must admit I don’t know how to ensure the video drivers were installed correctly and I’d hazard a guess that my main issue is the video drivers, I’m welcome to any suggestions on fixing fuduntu, its installed and boots properly, it just has display issues and tends to lag because of them. I’m going to do some more reading, and then I guess I’ll give mint a shot, a lot of people say good things about it online.

jerv's avatar

Video drivers in Linux are more art than science :p

edmann13's avatar

okay so you keep tossing me fishes, now teach me to fish, where should I start reading?

jerv's avatar

Distrowatch, which I linked above, is a good place to find and compare various distros.

Almost every distro has it’s own forums for support questions, one that goes into far more detail than a general Q&A site; here are the forums for Fuduntu, which even has a section about installing and upgrading and another specifically for networking and wireless.

Other distros have similar forums:
Mint forums
PCLinuxOS forums
Mageia forums

That doesn’t even include the general Linux sites like Linux Forums, Linux Solved, JustLinux, and LinuxQuestions.

The Linux community is generally friendly, as can be expected from people who do this for love and not for money. Many of them are so knowledgeable it makes you wonder if they have a life. You should have little problem getting any question answered there, though they may ask you for details in order to make sure they get it right; you don’t want to install an Atheros 58xx-series driver on a Broadcom chip.

After doing this sort of thing for >30 years, it’s easy for me to forget that others don’t know the sort of things I take for granted. Mea culpa.

edmann13's avatar

error informing the kernel about modifications to partition /dev/sda1 :\

jerv's avatar

That is an error in your MBR caused by bad partitioning, and an unnervingly common one.

I wonder if this would help:

sudo gparted /dev/sda

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