Dell E1505 Ubuntu – no wifi

I own a Dell E1505 laptop from about 4 years back that contains a 1390 Wireless Mini-Card.  This card uses the Broadcom 4311 chipset.  As this laptop is a secondary machine, it is subject to frequent OS installs and all kinds of testing.  The biggest issue I’ve had with it has been Ubuntu 9.10.  I was running Ubuntu 9.04 prior to 9.10 being released (and 8.10 before that) and the wifi worked fine, right out of the box.  Ubuntu 9.10 aka Karmic Koala breaks this out-of-the-box wifi functionality, however.

I ran into this issue when 9.10 was released back in October of 2009.  I reinstalled 9.10 today to do some Android development work, only to re-discover the same issue I had nearly 9 months ago.  The ISO I used to install was downloaded today, so I was surprised when the wifi issue was still there.  Wanting to get my wifi back, I scoured the intrawebz for a while until I re-found my solution from last Fall.

The main problem I have is that I cannot get the wifi switch to turn on.  This is achieved by holding the FN key and pressing F2.  However, before installing this fix, that key combination has no effect.  It seems that the driver is valid, as lspci lists the device (Broadcom 4311), yet something isn’t right, obviously, as it doesn’t work.  The most odd part about the whole situation is if you run the Live CD, wifi works miraculously.  It would appear that something is not getting copied from the Live CD at installation time.

The answer is this:

1. Boot into Ubuntu and pop your Live CD into the tray.
2. Install the following files from the disk, in order, by double-clicking them:

/pool/main/p/patch/patch_2.5.9-5_i386.deb
/pool/main/d/dkms/dkms_2.1.0.1-0ubuntu1_all.deb
/pool/restricted/b/bcmwl/bcmwl-kernel-source_5.10.91.9+bdcom-0ubuntu4_i386.deb

3. Reboot.

That should do it!  Your machine should boot back into Ubuntu 9.10, this time with the wifi light illuminated.

Written By drew

One Comment on “Dell E1505 Ubuntu – no wifi

  1. Joe Reply

    January 11, 2011 at 8:48

    These exact steps also worked for the same hardware in Ubuntu 10.04.

    Thanks! You made my day a lot easier.

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