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Just wanted to pass on a little "trick" that I've used to make installing Debian 7 a bit easier. On my first NetInstall I got a "firmware not found" about ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Engineer TNFrank's Avatar
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    Firmware "trick".


    Just wanted to pass on a little "trick" that I've used to make installing Debian 7 a bit easier. On my first NetInstall I got a "firmware not found" about my wifi and had to hook up a Cat5 cable to my modem to get the install going. Afterwards I did find the firmware and got my wifi up and running but man, what a pain. I did a second install and this time I had a USB handy with the firmware on it to plug in so I could get my wifi running during install. Easier but not perfect.
    Then doing another install(all of which are from a "Live" USB via UNetbootin) I noticed that there was a folder on the USB called "firmware" so I got an idea. I simply did a drag and drop of the firmware I downloaded over to the folder on the install USB and bingo, now during install the Debian installer automatically detects the firmware and it gets installed without issue.
    So, if ya'll are going to be doing an install and you've found that you need firmware of one kind or another to get things running just download it ahead of time and drop it into the "firmware" folder on the USB before you do the install and Bob's your Uncle.
    Rubberman likes this.

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    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    Great advice TNF! Installing drivers is one thing, but a lot of folks forget that the firmware is even more critical!
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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    Linux Engineer TNFrank's Avatar
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    One of the "odd" things is that my Point Linux installs, which are based on Debian 7 already have firmware and drivers to run my wifi card but a Pure Debian 7 install doesn't have the firmware, go figure. LOL.
    Still, it's easy enough to stick in into the folder on the Live USB so the installer can find it without the need for a second USB or CD with it on it.

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    drl
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    Hi.
    Quote Originally Posted by TNFrank View Post
    One of the "odd" things is that my Point Linux installs, which are based on Debian 7 already have firmware and drivers to run my wifi card but a Pure Debian 7 install doesn't have the firmware, go figure. LOL.
    Still, it's easy enough to stick in into the folder on the Live USB so the installer can find it without the need for a second USB or CD with it on it.
    The Debian distribution does not include non-free drivers, firmware, etc.
    The main archive area forms the Debian distribution.

    Packages in the other archive areas (contrib, non-free) are not considered to be part of the Debian distribution, although we support their use and provide infrastructure for them (such as our bug-tracking system and mailing lists).
    Excruciating detail can be found at Debian Policy Manual - The Debian Archive and, for some details on directory firmware, see 6.4.*Loading Missing Firmware

    Best wishes ... cheers, drl
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    thank you for this

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    Linux Engineer TNFrank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by king13 View Post
    thank you for this
    Hey, no problem pard. This is something that I just figured out the hard way and thought I'd pass it along to make future installs of Debian 7 a bit easier for folks. Figure that UNetbootin puts a "firmware" folder on the Live USB when you make it up, may as well use it so you don't need a second USB with the firmware on it handy during install.

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    Linux User jkwilborn's Avatar
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    TNFrank, do you know the difference between a .fw file and a .ko file? I have a warning that I may be missing firmware and it gives the path as "/lib/firmware/rtl_nic/rtl8168g-2.fw for module r8169". I have the unit working on a different kernel, but it's a .ko file. I don't understand the difference so I'm kind of lost as to what to do at this point. Is fw some kind of a way to store many firmware modules or am I making this too complicated. Seems that it just confuses the issue...

    I've copied the r8169.ko file over to the /lib/..../rtl_nic/ directory, but get the same message... Maybe it's looking for a sub directory or something? Any suggestions???

    Thanks

    Jack

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    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    There are 2 parts to most wifi drivers, the driver itself (the kernel module with API implementation, etc), and in many cases a binary blob that is the firmware for the device that is loaded on the device to handle the commands from the driver - that is what handles the actual device hardware. In many cases is is a proprietary bit of code from the device manufacturer so source code often isn't available.

    There are tools to extract that from Windows drivers for the device so that the Linux OS can support the device. Because of the proprietary nature of these blobs, a number of Linux distributions that do not want to support non-FOSS stuff "out-of-the-box", will require that you install the driver and firmware yourself, basically acknowledging that you realize you are running non-free code.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

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    Linux User jkwilborn's Avatar
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    In my current situation, I have a .ko file that, from what I understand is compiled from source for the chipset (I was also surprised). It produced a .ko file. When I attempt to create a backport that may support the wifi, it can't find the firmware for the Ethernet (which is working on this model). I'm confused that the error message is for an .fw file and I have successfully used a .ko in a different kernel.

    I guess I'm trying to find the difference of the two files, like are they interchangeable (fat chance, huh?), but don't know. I've Googled it and found no relation except they are firmware files. I've dealt with these before when I attempted to build a kernel for an old G5 I had with broadcomm hardware that wasn't supported. I went through the blob and wrapper and found it to be a rather large headache, especially since I was just jumping into Linux.

    Seems like every time I move from or to another platform I run into something like this, but the lack of knowing what the differences are is totally frustrating. This backport seems to be what I need to get the wifi up, but of course, it has a problem with the only working hardware! It grumped during install, but I found the .ko file and it was a happy camper. Still it never has complained about no firmware for the wifi and even though you can lspci and see it, you can't do anything else with it. Searched all the log files and no failure to load or anything about a wifi problem, during boot.

    Thanks

    I'm crossing my fingers...

    Jack

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