Geeky/Programming Ramblings

Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron – Linux is Cool, Linux Wireless is Not – 10 Step Program

Gah. I have a love hate relationship with Linux. It is pretty cool, can do pretty much everything. But.. But.. wireless support is just a joke. Same issues with Yellow Dog Linux on the PS3.

Wireless should JUST WORK.

I downloaded the 8.04 iso, and burnt it to cd. Installed it in windows, which is cool, a 10 GB partition. rebooted and the windows boot manager lets you choose , Vista or Ubuntu.

After getting set up, logged in, I tried to get on wireless. Doesn’t work. The thing is with Linux, is if you start configuring stuff here and there, it can get WAY out of hand, and then its just wacked. That happened, so I reboot to Vista, uninstall Linux, reinstall.

Now, lets search the forums, blogs and what not to get wireless to work. These are the steps I took to get it to work. My laptop is Inspiron E1705 with Broadcom wireless..

Fire up terminal..

1) sudo apt-get install build-essential

2) wget

3) tar xjf b43-fwcutter-011.tar.bz2

4) cd b43-fwcutter-011

5) make

6) cd..

7) wget

8) tar xjf broadcom-wl-

9) cd broadcom-wl-

10) sudo ../../b43-fwcutter-011/b43-fwcutter -w “/lib/firmware� wl_apsta.o

Now, reboot a few times, and then maybe.. just maybe your wireless will connect and work. Once it latches on, it seems to be fine. I am on Ubuntu right now, writing this post.

Only 10 steps to get wifi working, all manual, and just a PITA. Granted it took me about an hour to patch together 18 different ways to get it to work..

Now I know why people use Mac and Windows. There is now way regular users are going to put up with that. Its like having to turn a crank to get your engine in your car to start. Just ain’t going to happen. Maybe in version 9 🙂

By Steve Novoselac

Director of Digital Technology @TrekBikes, Father, Musician, Cyclist, Homebrewer

22 replies on “Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron – Linux is Cool, Linux Wireless is Not – 10 Step Program”

sudo: ../../b43-fwcutter-011/b43-fwcutter: command not found

Is what I get when I put the last of the code in also “cd..” should be just “cd” without the two dots.


“Its like having to turn a crank to get your engine in your car to start.”

Well, we really just bought the wrong car (Broadcom chip here, too). It’s more like the start-button is hidden somewhere, and they only tell Windows chauffeurs where it is. So we hired a Ubuntu chauffeur, and now we have to help him look for it…


Instead of doing steps 1-6 I would suggest to get a b43-fwcutter package from and install it with dpkg.

Reduces the 10 step program to a 6 step program 🙂

1) wget

2) sudo dpkg -i b43-fwcutter_011-1_i386.deb

continue with 7)

And I agree that you bought the wrong car by the way. Why do people always complain that Linux doesnt’t support their hardware? The problem is that many hardware manufacturers don’t support Linux!

Please write thousands of emails to them and tell that you won’t buy their products anymore if they don’t change their mind about Linux instead of blaming Linux developers that work for free.

Ever tried to get hardware support from Microsoft? They tell you to ask your hardware manufacturer for a new driver, that’s all.


yeah, still 6 steps is bad. If you are “non geek” there is no way you are going to do that and actually get it working (read: your grandma)

If manufacturers won’t support Linux, then Linux will never be viable.. never 🙂


I tried it with the Debian package and a friends Laptop and I was surprised. The package is configured to download the required files and does steps 7-10 by itself. Of course only if you have a working internet connection (wired connection). So then it’s only a 2-step programme 🙂

However, I see that it can be frustrating…

But good for the geeks, isn’t it? Now they have also non-geek friends because they can fix their computers 😉


I am a noobie, and am having problems with getting wireless to work. It tells me I have a BCM94311 MCG wlan mini-pci (rev 02) in Compaq F500. I get to the last command, and get the following error message “This file is recognised as:
ID : FW11
filename : wl_apsta.o
version : 351.126
MD5 : 9207bc565c2fc9fa1591f6c7911d3fc0
Extracting b43/ucode4.fw
failed to create output directory: No such file or directory
Please can somebody help, I dont want to have to use windows to go wireless.
Many thanks in anticipation


If you go out to buy a transportation vehicle to get you, from let’s say work to school, you are going to buy a car, that fill the needs for the journey, you are not going to buy a truck 🙂 With the machine VS Linux war i guess it’s like that, If you really wanna get a linux distro, research the laptops that better work with the distro…

But trust me, I totally agree with you Steve, totally!!!


To Roger:

I am also new to Ubuntu. This line is to correct the step 10)

10) sudo ../../b43-fwcutter-011/b43-fwcutter -w /lib/firmware wl_apsta.o

where ../../ is the directory you place the file b43-fwcutter-011

I did all the 10 steps carefully, and I have detected my network now, but still time-out while I tried to connect to it.


It is a bit unfair to give such a broad stereotype to Ubuntu, because 90% of the time, everything works from a straight install with the exception of possibly ATI drivers (the last time I checked, they were a pain). I have used Ubuntu on both of my computers and have seen it on so many other laptops because everyone I know uses it, and it has worked with wireless automatically, even just by setting it to roaming.


What do you expect though. Some things require drivers and support software to function. To get my wireless card working with Vista I had to install drivers. Luckily they were all included in a handy CD from Dell, but were that not the case it would be just as much work.


@Anonymous – #1 – it wouldnt be as much work. Are you telling me you have to compile (make) drivers on your dell in XP/Vista? No way, never.

#2 – this would never pass the grandmother test.

@NiGmA – ubuntu is labeled as the linux distro for everyone. Don’t get me wrong it is the easiest linux distro. The others would be even worse I am guessing. Linux in general need to be able to be uber geeky yet easy if it ever wants to be on desktops everywhere.


I installed Hardy Heron and found that it was quite easy to install the b43-fwcutter and the broadcom firmware.

Here is what I did:

1. Installed Ubuntu (Hardy Heron)
2. Ran the update manager (System -> Administration -> Update Manager) and downloaded the latest patch.
3. Once installed, connected to the Internet using a LAN cable.
4. Went to System -> Administration -> Hardware Drivers
5. Clicked on the tab to enable the Broadcom B43 wireless driver. Clicked “Yes” when asked whether I wanted to download the driver.
6. This installed the b43-fwcutter and also downloaded the firmware and configured the wireless card.
7. Restarted the computer and was able to connect to the wireless network.

Fortunately, I did not require to do any geeky stuff like compiling the b43-fwcutter.


I gave up on fwcutter and stuck with ndiswrapper, which I used with preveous Ubuntu versions. Even so, every major Ubuntu version has brought a certain amount of wrestling with my wifi hardware. When I buy my next laptop, a Broadcom wifi chip is an unconditional deal-breaker. Y’HEAR THAT, BROADCOM?

Broadcom’s excuse for not releasing enough hardware specs to allow an open-source driver driver, _including_ that firmware blob, to be written is that it would make it easier to reverse-engineer their products. Bull! You think the Chinese haven’t already got prototypes? There’s just no market for bootlegs of something with such a crappy reputation.

I’m not an Open Source purist; I wouldn’t mind if Broadcom (May their skivvy shorts be starched with epoxy glue!) would copy nVidia and release free (even if not “Free”) Linux drivers for their products, but until they do, I’ll be adding BOYCOTT BROADCOM! as a tagline to anyting I post to any relevant forum.



Sorry guys I feel like such an idiot for asking this! However, I just installed Ubuntu (8.10) for the first time – mainly so that I could enable Monitor Mode on my laptop’s Broadcom 4311 wifi card.

Can you just tell me which directories I am meant to be running these terminal commands from? I know it prob sounds stupid, but I have just migrated to Linux so really just don’t know.

Didn’t even make it past the first step, epic fail 🙂

dan@ubuntu:~$ sudo apt-get install build-essential
[sudo] password for dan:
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
E: Couldn’t find package build-essential

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help an ignorant novice 🙂


When you use a package manager (apt or synaptic), it figures out which directories to unpack the package into. If apt can’t find the package, it must be looking in the wrong repository. That’s weird, because an Ubuntu install sets the repository list to the ones appropriate to your version. Try running synaptic (main menu -> Administration -> Synaptic)
and using its search feature to look for build-essential. Is it possible that you got a corrupt download?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.