Giving up on bcm43xx in Gutsy beta

The only major issue that I have felt in my use of Ubuntu till date(and to be fair, this is not ubuntu specific) is the problems I keep having with wireless setup. I can live with any of it’s other flaws.

In earlier releases, the problem had been WPA support. The default install didn’t have wpa_supplicant, and to install wpa_supplicant, you needed to have network first, dammit! So I had to run around looking for a network cable, sit next to my AP, patiently download the package, figure out the unnecessarily verbose documentation and finally set up the stuff(in two terminals, one keeping an eye on the messages of wpa_cli).

In Feisty, at least NetworkManager managed to understand that there is in fact a protocol called WPA, but for some freaking reason had trouble connecting to my AP(a D-link 2640T) at home. So I always connected using ifup/ifdown everytime where I had some latitude regarding timeout.

And speaking of NetworkManager, under WEP configuration why does network manager have the option “WEP passphrase” by itself when it has two perfectly acceptable options of “ASCII” and “Hex” in the same dropdown? I spent days wondering why the hex passphrase I kept entering didn’t work under “WEP passphrase”, when it worked perfectly fine under the “hex” option(which I had forgotten in my haste)!

While setting up my laptop under Feisty for the first time, I read around how only ndiswrapper unleashed the full speed of my BCM4312 wireless card, and that the native bcm43xx would keep it stuck at “b” speeds. (For some unknown reason, I always found the concept of fwcutter a bit uncomfortable). So I setup ndiswrapper, and worked happily ever since.

When I upgraded to Gutsy though, I was told that native 43xx was now good enough for prime enough, and so I allowed the restricted drivers manager to use the fwcutter to install it for me. Since that time, for the past few days, I have had many random issues with network connection. Wireless connection kept stalling with the AP for weird reasons, till today, when I finally got fed up too much and blacklisted the bcm43xx module again and enabled ndiswrapper.

I don’t seem to be the only person with such issues on the web though. There have been quite a few reports of regression issues of bcm43xx on Gutsy. I will wait till these die down.